“Don't drive-thru — cruise-thru” reads the sign behind the counter at Hot Rod's Burger Shop in Palestine, the nostalgic 1950s-era diner and bakery on the corner of North Howard and West Main streets.
The classic car-themed, mom-and-pop style eatery serves everything from juicy burgers to fries and hand-spun ice cream shakes, plus an assortment of homemade baked goods from the 'Tis So Sweet Bakery and Soda Shoppe — all whipped up from scratch.
The family-owned business celebrated six months this past Thursday, clinching the reality of a longtime dream for local couple Steve and Cristy Bachman. “Family-owned,” in fact, couldn't be more suitable a description, since Cristy said each family member (that includes Steve, herself and their grown children Heather and Justin) are involved.
Steve gets there early in the morning to grind and smoke the beef on a grill over charcoal and hickory, which is done in a large pit on their outdoor covered patio — an area now open to customers, with tables and seating.
Cristy, meanwhile, is easy to spot in her apron and puffy white baker's hat, being the person who handles the bakery side of the business. Craving a hunk of three-layered chocolate buttercream frosted cake with your burger? She'd be the one to see, behind the window to the right when your first walk in.
(Disclaimer: Cristy said she can't keep up with the chocolate chip cookies — they fly out the door as soon as she makes them.)
On the other side of the kitchen, Justin takes charge of the frying, while Heather grills the freshly-baked buns and arranges the plates that are usually licked clean by the end of the meal.
“Everything is homemade,” Cristy said. “We refuse to have a frozen patty or a regular hamburger bun. We've enjoyed being here, and we have fun.”