In the age of the chain restaurant, customers keep coming back to the Pinnacle Drive-In.
It’s an institution in Pineville and Wyoming County, where people drive up for curb service or eat in the diner-style interior.
The Wyoming County Labor Day Festival is honoring the restaurant staff, naming it the marshal for this year’s parade.
A throwback to a simpler America, the Pinnacle has done things pretty much the same way for decades.
“We make the hot dog chili every day,” said Carolyn Clay, who has owned the Pinnacle since November 1968. “We mix the turkey salad for the subs every day. People like the food because it’s homemade. We put a lot of effort into everything.”
It’s not unusual to see the hot dogs, topped with that chili on a toasted English bun, leaving the restaurant packed into boxes and bags by the dozen or half-dozen.
The chili recipe is one that was in use when Clay bought the drive-in from Etta Allen. “She showed me how to make it, and we’ve added to it, Clay commented. “It’s our own version of it.”
The turkey subs are famous as well. The buns were once always deep-fried, although a healthier baked version has been available in recent years.
“People who haven’t lived here for years will come in to get a hot dog or a turkey sub when they’re in the area,” Clay noted.
In an online review of the restaurant, a woman lamented that her husband would get to eat at the Pinnacle while he was in West Virginia and she would not. A former West Virginian called the hot dogs “the best in the world.”
The restaurant was named one of 101 unique places to eat in the state a few years ago.
In addition to its array of sandwiches, sides and dinners, the Pinnacle offers daily specials of southern West Virginia favorites, like vegetable beef soup, beans and corn bread and chili.
“We’ve added a few things to the menu since I bought the restaurant,” Clay noted. “But it’s mostly the same.”
Some members of the staff have worked there for years. “We’ve been lucky to get good help,” she remarked. “When we get good people, we don’t want them leaving.
“I enjoy the customers, the people who come in,” said Clay. “We really appreciate them. Most of it is repeat business, and that’s what made us.
“If I had it all to do over,” she remarked, “I would.”
The Pinnacle is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.