Want a made-to-order cheeseburger and a large ice-cold mug of home-brewed Draft Root Beer for four bucks?

How about a half-pound Sugar Loaf Mountain Burger for $4.20?  Hungry for fried chicken, an elk burger, a vegetarian burger or a tastefully twisted flavor cone that screams summer fun?

Well, come on down…to Winona, Minnesota!

Add a friendly owner who loves to pull up a stool and visit with customers (and a basket of deep-fried mushrooms) and you’re about to experience life in the slow lane at the oldest restaurant in Winona.

Hubby and I stopped by the Lakeview Drive Inn on a recent trip to Minnesota. Owner Tim Glowczewski sat with us while we dove into our baskets of goodies. He explained how Lakeview Drive Inn has belonged to just three families since its inception. His parents were the third owners, and Tim and his brother John bought the restaurant from them in 1993.

The original Lakeview Drive Inn 1938. Originally named Emil’s Root Beer.

The highly guarded  *and regarded* root beer recipe defining Lakeview has been passed exclusively to new owners, and is an important factor in the restaurant earning the title of one of the top ten Minnesota “Local Secrets, Big Finds” by Travelocity.com, he said.

We discussed that delicious root beer with Tim, whose one-raised-eyebrow bespeaks sincerity as he talks. He said his brother John makes about 100 gallons of root beer every day, stirring it by hand. Depending on the year, Tim told us they make and serve about 25,000 to 35,000 gallons of it each season.

That’s a lot of root beer.

How’s the taste? Just ask my guy – he consumed three or four mugs back to back! I had to punch his leg *discreetly, of course* to make him stop.

Founded in 1938, and open from March until September, Lakeview Drive Inn is located on the shores of Lake Winona and boasts a view of Sugar Loaf Mountain. You can eat inside while balancing on a stool at an old-fashioned counter, or enjoy their carhop services.

With a wicked heat wave hugging the Midwest and Minnesota, eating inside was our only option. I’m glad we did because we met Tim and his friendly crew of local high school and college students. It’s a family business, and Tim’s daughter was working the day we went.

Tim told us it’s the *inn* place to be on “Cruise Nights” scheduled throughout the summer and featuring classic cars, motorcycles, bicycles, antiques, and spectators.

Other events include the “Coolest Car Contest” for owners of classic, vintage or one-of-a-kind decked-out rides, in which you just might win a stay in a ’57 or ’59 Chevy Fantasy Suite at the nearby River Port Inn of Winona! Pretty cool!

Tim said the parking lot is often solid with cars, especially on event nights. We believed him. You will too. As charming as his old-fashioned drive-in, Tim is an important part of the Lakeview Drive Inn experience.

So…plan on stopping by on your next trip through southern Minnesota, providing that it’s March through September. Be sure and tell Tim and all the folks that

Co-owner Tim (l) and Mark Stewart (r) at the Lakeside Drive Inn, Winona, MN

Mark and Jodi send them a big-Texas howdy!   

What cool Americana places did you find this summer? We’d love to hear about it!



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