In 1969, George and Peggy Scott, bought out the Dairy Mart and opened Scott’s Drive In at 4701 Old Jacksboro Highway. A lot has happened since then, but the building hasn’t changed much, and the food is still authentic with it being prepared “just like it always has been.” The cherry limeades and the Big Scotty Burgers still draw in people by the hordes.
Now Anthony Scott, the original owner’s son, and his wife Karla own the business. They have two sons, Bronson who is 10 and Baun who is 15, and Baun can’t wait to take over Scott’s Drive In. It looks like it runs in the family. The Scotts also own other restaurants in town, including The Highway Cafe, The Oyster Bar Grill and the Catfish Grill. “Everything we do here at Scott’s, we do by hand with a few exceptions. It is the same way at all our locations. We do a lot of things by hand that just aren’t done anymore. For instance, the onion rings are hand-battered, and Scott’s chili is hand made fresh twice every day. My dad got that recipe in 1942 on a ship in the NAVY in the merchant marines. He got it off of an old cook on a battleship,” Anthony said.
The meat is never frozen, in fact, “the meat truck comes every day. A lot of it has to do with how you put it together. We know how to cook a hamburger, and I have eaten a couple thousand of them. We buy the best meat we can buy; we buy the best buns we can buy, and we buy the freshest produce. It is hand-sliced every day,” Anthony shared with pride. “We are also famous for the crinkle-cut fries that are nice and salty,” Karla added. “We aren’t famous for our chicken sandwiches, but we should be. They are fresh and huge.” Anthony added, “We work hard to keep it like it always has been. We work hard to keep it fresh and we work hard so that you can get what you pay for. We strive to keep our restaurants really clean. It is not an option it is mandatory. If you’re leaning you should be cleaning,” he said. And, according to Anthony, their health department scores show that they are the cleanest restaurants in town. They have added a few things to the standby menu at Scott’s, like French fry pie made with chili and cheese, and the cowboy burger. They also have Shakers, which are ice cream with various candy mixed in. “We cook at home, and it is our test kitchen. We try and try to get recipes perfect. Finally, you get it down, and you go, ‘That’s it!’ It takes a lot of work,” Karla said.
Scott’s Drive In was a big part of Anthony’s childhood. A funny fact is told that so and so went into labor with Anthony while taking an order on speaker 13. The drive-in has 22 bays that people can pull up in and place orders on the speakers. “My earliest memory from Scott’s is my dad sitting me on the counter, and we used to have corn dogs and they were called super dogs. They were good, and you can’t get anything like them now. There was a super dog batter that you mixed in a metal pan, and you cooked the hot dogs, put them on a stick, and you dipped them and fried them. I can remember sitting back here when I was just a little kid with a pan of super dog batter and hand- dipping those,” he reminisced.
“I would come out and clear off tables and I remember customers tipping me a nickel or sometimes a quarter for helping out. It was the same way with my son Baun. When he was about 4 years old, he would put on the paper Scott’s hat, and he would run around in here and clean tables and he would come up and tell me, ‘Dad, they gave me fifty cents for cleaning tables,’” Anthony said with a smile. “I used to come to Scott’s and get a cherry lime and a Frito chili pie, and it was a treat, little did I know that Anthony and I would meet later,” Karla said. Anthony bought the business in 1993. He stayed in Wichita Falls unlike his other siblings because he had business interests here, and that hasn’t changed. He has owned bars and restaurants in our town and other cities for decades, but Wichita Falls is home.
And his other locations have the same work ethic as Scott’s Drive In. “We aren’t taking it off a truck, zipping the top off, and throwing it in a fryer. It is being prepared right here and right now when you order it. With the chicken fried steaks, for example, they are back there prepping the batter, prepping the breading for it, pounding on it, by gosh, getting it ready, and they double bread those steaks,” Anthony said. That goes for the catfish, too. They are hand-dipped and double breaded and cooked fresh to order.
When you come to Scotts Drive in and place an order, they put your order slip on a clothespin and zip it down the line to the cooks. That line has been there since the beginning and although it needs repairs at times, Anthony refuses to take it down. It is part of the charm of the restaurant. The booths are vintage, and it is easy to imagine all the people that have visited there throughout the years to get a delicious meal for a great price. The nostalgia at Scott’s Drive In keeps people who have eaten there as a child bringing in their kids and grandkids so that a whole new generation is coming to love the burgers, fries, shakes, malts and, of course, the cherry limeade.
-Cindy Kahler Thomas