Top of the Morning, June 14, 2014
Checking in on two of the area's traditional dining and entertainment favorites:
— I phoned Betty Hoots this week to check on the status of her famous Burger King restaurant in Mattoon (the Whopper-free one). Someone had told me it was going to close after 62 years in business.
"Not a day goes by for the last four or five years that I'm asked if it's true, that we're going to sell it," she said. "Someone just put it on Facebook about a month ago, and the next day two Realtors from Chicago called."
In their 80s, Betty and Gene Hoot are — like their restaurant — going strong. Gene works every day and Betty is on call, keeping customers happy with heaping helpings of lemon ice cream and Hooter Burgers.
The couple made national news by confronting the fast-food chain by the same name in court. A 1968 ruling went the Hoots' way, the bigger Burger King banned from opening a store within 20 miles of the mom-and-pop operation on Charleston Avenue.
It'll stay that way as long as the Hoots stay in business.
"And business," Betty said, "is very, very good."
— Awards are old hat for Gibson City's Harvest Moon Drive-In, which this week was named one of America's 10 best drive-ins by the roadtrippers.com. What's new is what's showing Thursday: Jimmy Buffett performing live from a drive-in in Fort Worth, Texas. "This is a test run," Harvest Moon GM Ben Harroun said. "If it goes well — and it looks like it will — we'll do it again." More than 600 tickets have been sold for the concert, which will be aired at drive-ins nationwide. Also new at Harvest Moon: fans can bring in alcohol for a $5 fee.