Matt and Kellie Cobern love to go on adventures and make new memories. Taking over the Peculiar Drive In has been one of their latest adventures, and they are enjoying every minute of it.
In late 1978, Matt’s mother, Vi Cobern, bought the Peculiar Drive In after working there as a part-time employee. Vi purchased the restaurant from a couple who had switched from fresh to frozen foods—something she promptly reversed. She also kept cooking up tenderloins, using the “claim to fame” old recipe from the 60’s, which had been introduced by Herb Witiker back when the restaurant was Herb’s Drive In.
As an eleven-year-old boy, Matt would watch the “cool high school kids” come to the drive-in after school. At the time, there were only a couple restaurants in town. In fact, the Peculiar Drive In is the longest continuously operated business in Peculiar.
Since his days of working at the drive-in as a youngster, Matt has worn many hats. He has worked as a police office and an electrician; he has participated in the Kansas City Renaissance Festival and has even done street characters. He can still pull off a variety of accents without batting an eye.
“I’ve done several things just because I have no fear of failure,” Matt remarked.
When Matt’s mother asked him if he would take over the restaurant, his first reaction was to say no. However, keeping in line with his adventurous nature, he decided to give it a try.
“This is a new adventure for us,” Matt said.
He calls his wife Kellie “the brains of the outfit.” Together they work together to keep the restaurant’s old-school charm while adding modern features.
In appearances, not much has changed. The Peculiar Drive In looks nearly the same as it did decades ago, as seen in the old photograph hanging on the restaurant’s wall.
“We try to keep it that way,” said Matt.
The Coberns have added a television with cable TV, free wireless internet, Twitter and Facebook pages, and a mobile site for the restaurant—features that keep up with the times without changing the heart of the restaurant.
Part of what makes this drive-in so special is the goal of its owners: “We want any chance to make new friends,” Matt said.
He calls their restaurant “personality-driven.” At the drive-in, they are intentional in meeting customers and making them feel special. They happily customize orders and have created outlandish sandwich combinations that have since landed on the menu. Matt fully understands the importance of the customer, and many customers come regularly.
“We have the best regulars you could ask for,” Matt said.
Matt and Kellie have three children, and they enjoy traveling and hunting. Recently they went wild boar hunting in Centerville, Texas. “It was awesome,” Matt said.
Although their latest adventure in life—the drive-in—has kept them off the road and in the restaurant more often than before, the Coberns are thriving in this new environment.
The Peculiar Drive In is closed on Sunday and Monday, open 11-8 Tuesday through Friday, and 11-7 on Saturday. The restaurant’s Facebook page can be found by searching for “Peculiar Drive In” on Facebook.
In the words of Matt Cobern, the Peculiar Drive In offers “old school food with friendly service, and the opportunity to make new friends.”