Mike’s Drive Up (aka Mike’s Garlic Fries!)

Clyde and I recently got our first orders of garlic fries here. Just wanted to say that
we liked it and recommend it! It’s in Eureka, CA

Article from Here:

Mike’s Drive Up: Reliability in a world of change
by Laura Provolt, 8/20/2007
Since 1956, when Mike Householder moved his 13-year-old business from his trailer to the current location of Mike’s Drive Up, little has changed about the business. From the wordplay signs on the wall to the hand-cut garlic fries and homemade chili, the little hamburger shop is essentially the same as it was more than 50 years ago, said current owner Frank Carpenter.

Carpenter, who has owned and operated the business with his wife Sherry for 20 years, said the business has been run by a few different families since Householder retired, and was purchased by Sherry’s family in the early 1970s. When her parents retired, she and Frank took it over, and said they hope their son James will take over the business when they retire.

The main changes in the business that have occurred in the last 50 years can be counted on one hand: the installation of a soda fountain, introduction of an electronic register and combining their chili and fries for chili cheese fries. The most recent change took place last October, when the business began accepting credit and debit cards.

“He resisted it for a long time, but finally he gave in,” Sherry said about her husband.

Frank, Sherry and James are the only employees of the business, so when they want a vacation the business closes down, often to the dismay and complaint of their loyal customers, Frank said.

In the last 50 years, Eureka has seen change that includes the growth of chain fast-food restaurants like Burger King, McDonald’s and Wendy’s. Though competition has increased, Frank attributes the long life of his business to a strong customer base.

Sherry said they were worried when Wendy’s moved down the street, but she said it ultimately helped Mike’s by bringing more people to that part of town. She said Grocery Outlet and other businesses that have come to the area have brought more customers, as well, and so the business is still going strong.

“We lose customers when they move away, but that is about it,” Frank said. “We have actually gotten calls from places like Connecticut, Maine and Alaska, from customers who moved away but really want one of our chili dogs. We have sent hot dogs, dry-iced, over to the East Coast for them — hey, it’s cheaper for them than coming out here.”

One of the most defining characteristics of Mike’s is its garlic fries. Frank said he often gets checks made out to “Mike’s Garlic Fries,” as that is evidently how the check writer thinks of the business. When he takes money and checks to deposit at the bank, the tellers frequently tell him the cash smells of garlic.

Frank displayed one of the T-shirts sold from the shop, which proudly states the motto “We advertise by word of mouth,” which he said is a tribute to the garlic breath one gets from eating the business’s garlic fries.

Sue Parnell, who lives in Scotia, said she first went to Mike’s in the early 1950s and has been coming back regularly since.

“I love the garlic fries, especially — you just can’t get them like this anywhere else,” Parnell said. “This place is always clean, fast and the service is always friendly.”

Copyright (C) 2005, The Eureka Reporter. All rights reserved.

About PeggyAnn

Professional PC Consultant, Researcher, & avid people watcher, Peggy Ann Rowe started into her genealogical quest at age 15 after watching the mini-series, "Roots" with her parents. This new obsession has fueled her love of history, & study of cultures & societies in every epoch. Today she is 57 years old with four kids who are all grown up (& all have flown the coop). In between her 'gigs' with clients she volunteered at many different non-profits. Former President, Secretary, and Director at Large on the board of the Douglas County Historical Society for 10+ years, and former Secretary at the Cloverdale Historical Society (Sonoma County) for nearly 10 years. This website is an attempt to share the knowledge she has gained about her family ties with others who may be interested in the same things. She does not guarantee 100% accuracy and does hope that you will send corrections. To learn more about her, click the "about" button in the page menu. Thanks! Another goal of this website is to disseminate a message (i.e. education) about domestic violence, child abuse, and all forms of sexual abuse to society at large. The message comes from real experience from the whole spectrum of the violence from sexual abuse by a perpetrator to sexual abuse perpetrated by a husband, to the abuse of children within the family. Peggy has seen it, lived it, and been hurt by it. There will on occasion be details that might be hard for some people to read, and a warning is usually posted at the beginning of the essay so that those who want to turn and not read may do so. The only way to teach and to let others learn what to avoid is to SHARE what happened with every detail necessary to make the point. Thank you.
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