Partners John and Tim Glowczewski have owned Lakeview Drive Inn since they bought it from their father Bill in 1993. Lakeview has been in the Glowczewski family for nearly 40 years, and the family has emphasized customer relationships and traditions.
May 30, 2014 6:00 am • Nathan Hansen Daily News
For partners Tim and John Glowczewski at Winona’s Lakeview Drive Inn, the challenge of operating their business isn’t keeping up with the latest technology or innovation. Instead, Tim said one of the most important things he and his family try to do is keep the drive-in authentic to its roots, helping the business build close customer relationships.“I like to say we’re a working antique,” Tim said. “We’re not a theme restaurant, and don’t just look like a 50s place. A lot of the things here are not just for decoration.”Car memorabilia lines the walls of the diner, which Tim said still has many of the original fixtures. The drive-in serves all of the usual diner fare from fries and a burger to shakes and root beer floats, and many of Winona’s high school students have earned their spending cash as a carhop at Lakeview.While the restaurant isn’t completely frozen in time — the menu has changed over the years to bring in local foods and healthier meal options for customers — the Glowczewskis attention to detail has been rewarded. Most of the business at Lakeview is repeat business, Tim said, and customers who ate there as teenagers will come back after college glad to see the drive-in hasn’t changed while they were gone.“People don’t like change,” Tim said. “There is comfort in tradition. When they come back it feels like home to them.”For Tim, the most important part of his business are the people, from the three generations of his family that have owned and worked at Lakeview since his dad purchased the restaurant in 1977, to the customers that sit in their usual spot week after week. Some of Lakeview’s customers eat there so regularly, Tim said he can set his watch by them, and tries to check on the older customers if they ever fall off their routine.One of our biggest things is customer service,” Tim said. “We like to make a personal relationship with the customer.”
One of the thing Tim stresses with Lakeview is that the restaurant is a drive-in, not a drive-thru. A lot of the customers like to drop in and talk, whether it’s just shooting the breeze with the staff or gossiping with neighbors.Lakeview is a part of the community, Tim said, from its cruise nights to partnerships with the Great River Shakespeare Festival, local schools and other organizations. And that involvement with the community has paid off with Lakeview having ten record-setting years in a row. Every year has been better than the one before,” Tim said. “Things are good for Lakeview. We’re very proud to be a part of Winona.”
Summer in a frosted mug. By Patrick Marek
Lakeview Drive Inn has the best root beer I have ever tasted.
– Former First Lady Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson 1997, while in Winona as a passenger on the American Queen
In a world where our landmarks and traditions are rapidly disappearing before our eyes, there’s something extremely comforting about being able to drink a mug of root beer that is made from the exact recipe that generations of Winona families have enjoyed since Franklin Roosevelt’s first term as president. For 70 years Lakeview Drive Inn root beer has embodied the promise, possibilities and sweet rewards that come with carefree summer days. The robust recipe was originally called “Sno-Cap,” and was invented by Emil Berzinski, when he opened Emil’s Root Beer Stand in 1938. The recipe for this thick, dark, creamy brew with trademark foamy head and satisfying edge has been a secret that has been guarded almost as closely as the nation’s nuclear launch codes, and has been passed on only with the sale of the business — to Elmer Tarras in 1955, Bill and Sue Glowczewski in 1977, and ultimately to their two sons, Tim and John, who bought
Lakeview Drive Inn in 1993.
With nostalgic carhop curb service, fresh brewed root beer served in old-fashioned heavy glass frosted mugs, and menu
favorites that include their famous french fries and homemade tartar sauce, the Glowczewskis have stayed true to the traditions that have made the drive-in a favorite local destination for seven decades. However, they have also added
some innovations that have definitely kicked up the Lakeview dining experience a notch. Wednesday’s classic car “Cruise Nights,” a home brewed diet root beer product, and an expanded six-page menu have catapulted the restaurant to record
sales and earned the designation of one of the top ten Minnesota “Local Secrets, Big Finds” by Travelocity.com.
When it comes right down to it though, it’s all about the root beer. As they prepare to celebrate Lakeview
Drive Inn’s 70th Anniversary on August 9th and 10th, Tim and John Glowczewski cannot only stake claim to being owners of Winona’s oldest restaurant, but they are also two of only three men alive (their dad Bill is the third) who know the
secret “Sno-Cap” recipe. They won’t need to hire a private security firm for protection anytime soon, however, because Lakeview is one of the last drive-ins in the country to brew its own root beer. “It’s a very complicated and
difficult process,” said Tim Glowczewski. “That’s why hardly anyone in the country brews root beer from scratch anymore. It’s a lot easier to get a box of syrup from Pepsi and just plug it in. When we first bought the restaurant there
was definitely a learning curve to getting the syrup and the machine just right. Even today we’re still doing constant adjustments to get everything perfect. After 31 years in the business we can tell by the taste and the look
what we need to do. We can make adjustments that change the carbonation or the sweetness, or we can make the flow run faster to create more foam. One of the things that we discovered early on was that beet sugar gave the root beer a
smoothness, and that little bit of bite that you just can’t get with cane sugar or corn syrup.”
Here’s how John Glowczewski described the successful finished product from the “Sno-Cap” recipe:
“It’s definitely got to be smooth, because people slam them, especially on a warm day, but it also has to
have a bite to it, and the foam. When you make a Pepsi and put it into a mug, there’s no foam. When we pour one of our root beers, you should be able to put a pencil in the middle of the glass and have it stay. We work hard to get that
foam, it doesn’t just happen. The dark color is also very important. When you put a Lakeview root beer down, you can’t see through it. It has deep, rich, dark, color.”
Lakeview consumes over five tons of sugar every year while making its root beer. John Glowczewski is in charge of mixing the syrup every day, a job he inherited from his grandfather. He mixes the recipe by hand with
a stainless steel paddle in a large vat and then transfers the mixture to ten gallon cans. Each can produces 35 gallons of root beer. Tim oversees the carbonation machine. Between the two of them, they produce enough product to
serve over 100 gallons of root beer a day to Lakeview customers. Because Tim is a diabetic, he was strongly motivated to modify the recipe to create a diet root beer product. Getting the project from theory to the customer took longer
than anticipated, but Glowczewski maintains that it was worth the wait. “It took us at least three years to get the diet root beer into production,” Tim Glowczewski said. “We mathematically calculated the formula, and were going to use Nutri-Sweet as the sweetener. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get it in bulk. It was available in those little pink packets, or in tanker
trucks. We needed to find it in workable amounts, but I think that the pop companies had it cornered in bulk. We called a broker and had him search the country for Nutri-Sweet in the bulk sizes we needed, and he came up empty for
two years. Finally the patent must have run out because we were finally able to order Nutri-Sweet in a form that we could actually work with. After that it didn’t take long. We just had to adjust the machine and get the right strength.
The diet root beer product has grown steadily over the last five years. A lot of people say they can’t tell the difference. Best of all, now everyone can enjoy our homemade root beer.”
When Bill and Sue Glowczewski purchased the restaurant in 1977, their dream was for it to be a place where the entire
family could work together. Thirty-one years later, the plan can be judged an unqualified success. On any given night, you will find an impressive number of Glowczewskis serving the public, and even the employees who aren’t
related to the owners soon become part of the Lakeview family. “I counted one night a couple of weeks ago, and there were eight Glowczewskis working here at one time” said Bill Glowczewski. “There are ten of us from our
family out of our 28 employees. That was our dream, to see our family come up and work the business. That’s why I was able to buy the business, because the previous owner’s kids went in different directions.”
“We never have to advertise for help,” Tim Glowczewski added. “We have a stack of 200 applications from people who want to work here. It’s prestigious to be a Lakeview carhop. There are girls who come in here when they’re eight or nine
years old and they look at those 15 and 16-year-old carhops and they idolize them. We’ve had generations of Lakeview carhops…grandmothers, mothers, and daughters. We like to get kids who haven’t worked anywhere else. We look at our
employees as family. We treat them well, we train them well, and we hold them to the higher standard that we expect from Lakeview employees.” Glowczewski maintains that 90 percent of the Lakeview customers are “regulars” who visit the drive-in one to four times a week. The 70th anniversary celebration is the Glowczewskis’ way of saying thank you to those
loyal customers. They plan to cook six hogs in a roaster/smoker and will be offering a pulled pork sandwich, french fries a and Bloedows cookie made especially for Lakeview for $3.50. In addition there will be free entertainment
both days and the opportunity to win prizes. And yes, there will be plenty of ice cold Lakeview Drive Inn “Sno-Cap” Root Beer — the granddaddy of them all — to go around.
Minnesota Moments Magazine
Lakeview made the cover page and a two-page centerfold article written by Audrey Kletscher Helbling this last month. Audrey captured the true nostalgia of the drive-in era and described Lakeview's inner working as well as
anyone ever has. All of us here at Lakeview are impressed with her creative insight to our restaurant.
Minnesota Moments Magazine is a unique, creative and informative lifestyle magazine for Minnesotans or anyone else interested in our great state. You can buy a copy of this May/June issue at any Barnes and Noble or large magazine retailer for $4. You can subscribe to Minnesota Moments or find out more about the bimonthly magazine by logging on to
www.minnesotamoments.com. I highly recommend it!
The cover of the magazine is an original drawing of Lakeview
created by artist Lisa Webskowski.
created by artist Lisa Webskowski.
Lakeview makes the Travelocity Top 10 List
Local Secrets, Big Finds 2005. By David Krotz
It's old and familiar and maybe taken for granted.But the folks at Travelocity.com think it's "one of the most authentic, truly hidden gems in Minnesota." The Internet travel site with millions of registered users has chosen the Lakeview Drive-Inn at 610 E. Sarnia St. as one of 10 Minnesota "Local Secrets, Big Finds for 2005."
As the oldest restaurant in Winona, the Lakeview Drive-Inn has been around since 1938, when Emil Berzinski
opened and ran it for 21 years. Since 1977, the Glowczewski family has owned and operated the restaurant, first Bill and Sue and, more recently, their sons, Tim and John. The brothers were delighted by the recognition granted by the national travel company, which booked travel for 4.9 billion users in 2004. "We didn't do anything special," said Tim Glowczewski.
"We're one of the few places to still have carhop service." That and the fact the Lakeview makes its own root beer, offers "all American cuisine," holds cruise nights every Wednesday during the summer and is Winona's oldest
eatery were reasons Travelocity selected it, he said.
He was notified of the honor in an e-mail from Travelocity in January. Nominations were submitted by registered Travelocity users, said Amy Ziff, Travelocity editor-at-large. Regular customer Darryl Mac said the Lakeview was one
of the three reasons he moved to Winona in 1976. The other two reasons were a beautiful blonde and the area bluff lands.
"It's a good place and good people run it," he said. "This place is a family operation, the old way. You've just got to love it. It's so cool."
The Glowczewskis began Cruise Nights 17 years ago, choosing Wednesdays to offer an open invitation to owners of
street rods, and antique and classic automobiles. Eighty to 100 cars show up every week, fill the lot and park along Sarnia Street for two blocks in both directions, Glowczewski said. The first Wednesday of July, August and September are also designated as Motorcycle Nights. Promotional surprises are also promised during the summer.
A picture of the Lakeview appears on Travelocity.com, with a brief write up about the restaurant. It also provides a
link to the Lakeview's Web site, www.lakeviewdriveinn.com. Travelocity will honor the Lakeview for the next year, free of charge, Ziff said.
Brothers Carry On Lakeview Tradition By Margie Cady / Winona Daily News
Customers belly up to the counter of the Lakeview Drive Inn to savor the ice cold drink in the frosted mug, topped with a thick head of foam. The sweet liquid serves up relief from a sultry summer day and lingers on the palate. This is root beer, made from scratch at Lakeview, which is owned by the Glowczewski family. The 1938 recipe is closely guarded, known by only three people. "Lakeview root beer is kind of a Winona tradition," Tim Glowczewski said. The family bought Lakeview in 1977, and Glowczewski and his brother, John, took over the place 10 years ago. "We're a dying breed," Tim Glowczewski said of the homemade root beer operation. "There's not many of us anymore." After pouring the draft root beer in the frosted mug, Glowczewski pointed out the differences between the drink and a glass of cola. Unlike the brown cola, one could not see through the opaque, black root beer.
In addition to the frosted mug and secret recipe, the sarsaparilla makes the root beer special, he said. Without the sarsaparilla, the drink is just caramel water. "That's where the 'root' in the root beer comes from," Glowczewski said. "Sarsaparilla root." Depending on need, a batch is made every other day, or daily. "We like to make it in small batches because that keeps it fresh," Tim Glowczewski said. For those who are counting calories, Lakeview also offers a homemade diet root beer. Back in 1938, the drink was known as sno-cap root beer. It was carbonated by blocks of dry ice, which, when melted, produced carbon dioxide gas for carbonation. When refrigeration became available, carbon dioxide gas was substituted. Lakeview uses a carbonation machine that holds the root beer under pressure in a submerged tank of near-freezing water, Glowczewski said. The liquid is pumped through insulated lines to towers that dispense the 40-degree root beer. Glowczewski said it's this method of carbonization that produces the root beer's thick head of foam.
In 1938, the root beer sold for a nickel, and the floats cost a dime. A 12-ounce mug of the drink now sells for 95 cents, while 16 ounces cost $1.25. The root beer floats in those sizes cost $1.25 and $1.60, respectively.
Lakeview uses more than five tons of sugar each summer to make its root beer, Glowczewski said. About 75 gallons are sold every day. Root beer outnumbers other soda sales at Lakeview at a ratio of 20 to one, Glowczewski said. John Glowczewski makes the syrup, which he stirs by hand with a stainless steel paddle in a vat. The syrup is poured into 10-gallon stainless steel cans, each yielding about 35 gallons of root beer. Tim Glowczewski sets the mix in the carbonation machine.
Lakeview customers include a former First Lady. In 1997, Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson stopped at Lakeview for a root beer while visiting Winona on the American Queen Paddlewheeler.
While many customers choose to enjoy their root beer on the premises in the frosted mug, the drink also is available to go. "I think it's much more special if you have it here," Glowczewski said. "You probably lose something in a plastic container."
Ernie Tuff's Once NASCAR's fastest car, stock car makes rare appearance at Cruise Night Once NASCAR's fastest car, stock car makes rare appearance at Cruise Night. By Laura Gossman
The car's parts may have come from coast to coast, but NASCAR's fastest car in 1964 was built in Rushford, Minn., by farmer and racing enthusiast Ernie Tuff. The Modified Ford car broke the speed record at the Daytona 500 in 1964. The car was driven by Fireball Roberts and reached 170 mph — 5 mph faster than the previous record holder, GM's "Mystery Motor," which was thought to be untouchable. "I spent every minute and every hour of every day and night building that car," Tuff said. In order to race in the NASCAR circuit, the car had to be built according to NASCAR regulations.
In 1964, cars were automatically disqualified if it couldn't reach speeds of 131 mph, Tuff said. "Previous champions always got to race," Tuff said. "It was harder for newcomers to get into the race. Once you get your chance, you do the best you can and just run it." "(Fireball Roberts) knew he had broken the record before they even announced it," Tuff said.
Although, it's been 40 years since it has raced, Tuff's car is still a champion with locals. He showed the car for the second time since the car was retired, showing up Wednesday at Lakeview Drive Inn's Cruise Night. Tuff opened up the hood so spectators could take a look at the 482 C.I. Mopar Hemi engine. The engine was the biggest made in 1964, he said.
"We had to bribe Ernie with root beer in order to get him to come here and show the car," Tim Glowczewski, co-owner of the drive inn, said.
Tuff autographed hats and talked shop with other racing enthusiasts. The 1961 Modified Ford isn't the only car Tuff is crazy about. He once had a museum full of cars not far from Winona. He still owns many vintage cars, but the museum near I-90 and Highway 43 has been closed down. "Winona County shut me down because of zoning regulations," Tuff said. "The area was commercial when I created the museum, but it's not anymore. "We had 16 Blue Grass Festivals out there," Tuff said. "Hank Williams and the Carter Family came and played." Tuff said he misses the museum and wishes he could still share his racing memorabilia.
Pictured is Ernie Tuff (right) with Lakeview co owner Tim Glowczewski and Ernie's 1961 Grand National Ford outfitted with a 482 ci. Hemi.
Local Artist Creates A Lakeview Drive Inn Model Joe Peplinski a local artist and collector created a model of Lakeview drive Inn to help display his collection of die cast cars, match box and hot wheels collectibles. This quality made model is full of detail including the 50's style stools and cookling equipment inside of the building.
Marvin Panch visited Lakeview's Cruise Night last week. Marvin is the oldest living Dayton 500 winner at 85 years old. He won the Daytona 500 with an average speed over 149 mph in 1961. Marv was the first driver to win a Daytona 500 in a Pontiac. Through his racing career Marvin Panch drove for top car builders such as Smokey Yunick, the Woods Brothers, Ray Fox Holman-Moody and Petty Enterprises. Marvin Panch was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 1987 and was named one of the top 50 drivers by NASCAR in 1998. Marv loved Lakeview's Cruise Night, the Winona area, and of course, our food! We love you Marv! Stop back anytime. Picture left to right: Bernadette Duellman, Marvin Panch, Elmer Duellman.
Visitors From Our Sister City Kogota. Japan 3 Japanese girls from our sister city Kogota, Japan visit Lakeview for an All American treat on March 22, 2005. Pictured are L to R, Megan Hatfield, daughter of hosts Tim and Susan Hatfield, Haruka Miura, Narumi Sugawara, and Shiori Sasaki.
Pictured From Left to Right, Miss Winona 2007 Katie Drazkowski, 2nd Attendant Molly Jewison, Spirit Award Sara Welch and 1st Attendant Anna Goodwill. Miss Winona and Her Court Enjoy Food at Lakeview