I don’t know whether we’ll ever manage it, but I had it in mind, a month or so ago, that Marie and I might could visit all of the SEC schools and feature at least one restaurant from each in this blog. On the one hand, we’re in Athens, Knoxville and Nashville kind of regularly anyway, but on the other, that would mean a trip to the benighted Gainesville, Florida. Auburn, however, seemed like a decent test of the waters, since it’s only about an hour west of Columbus. Plus, I have a very reliable guide to the town in the form of my friend Cheryl.
I’ll tell you this for free; for a chainsmoking Auburn fan, Cheryl is all kinds of good people. Well, I jest; my dad’s best friend is a Tigers fan, too. So’s the co-owner of the business where I worked from 2006-09, and he’s a super guy. Either I’ve been lucky or the school seems to attract a very good class of fan. I had hoped Cheryl would be free to accompany us to Auburn, but she had plans already. Nevertheless, she wasn’t about to let us drive to the Plains without letting us know about a much-loved tailgating treat that we needed to try. She told me that whenever she and her daddy go to see the action in Jordan-Hare Stadium, they always stop in at a roadside shack in Opelika for some ice cream and a footlong.
Located just south of Opelika proper, Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar is a little roadside stand that sells just hot dogs and ice cream and absolutely thrives on the community’s love. During the short time we were there enjoying our second small lunch of the day, close to a dozen cars pulled up and drivers of all ages hopped out for a soft serve cone or a milkshake. The restaurant opened in 1952 and, as it approaches its sixtieth year, is still family-owned.
We had eaten only an hour or so before we pulled up, but planned accordingly and split a scrambled dog for the earlier meal. These hot dogs – boiled and served in a steamed bun – come as foot-longs or “shorts,” and naturally we each had a short. Marie’s was the chili and mine was the slaw. They were certainly ugly hot dogs, but they were quite tasty, and I think that mine, topped with that wonderful, creamy slaw, might have been the better of the two.
As far as the ice cream treats, I don’t know that soft serve goo is all that different wherever you find it, but my daughter dug into a Butterfinger flurry and could not finish it, although she agreed it was very tasty. We were all pretty full, and our next meal was only about fifteen minutes away. Clearly we needed to do something to pad the time, so I took a few moments to thank the young lady with a Bama ball cap and her manager and snap some photos, and then lazily continued the drive down Pepperell Parkway, which becomes Opelika Road, looking for some way to pad out our afternoon a little.
Other blog posts about Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar:
Chopped Onion (2009)