Nite Owl

I have passed this place a hundred billion times. I just totally love the look of it. It’s an old and classic custard stand drive-in. But I have never eaten there, in fact the only time I ever stopped there was to take a picture of it covered in snow. An ironic photograph. It’s a seasonal place, open in the summer, closed in the winter. I don’t usually eat that kind of food even if I really really want to, it’s not on my Lifetime Diet Plan®. As a teenager, in the summertime, I worked as a soda jerk in a custard stand. I am intimately familiar with the food. Usually I pass The Night Owl on the way to and from the airport (it’s on Layton across from the airport) and stopping at a drive-in to slam dunk burgers and malts isn’t on the agenda right at that moment.

This time though, I was picking my friend Annette up at the airport on her way to the Wisconsin Book Festival (It’s a fabulous event if you love books, my nephew runs it). Annette is a children’s book writer (The Magic Rabbit and Look Up) here to read at the festival. She left Massachusetts, where she lives, at 3 in the morning and hadn’t eaten. She was famished, it was early, like 11:20, but late enough that lunch wasn’t inconceivable. We stopped.

Oh my god…it was so perfect. The place has posters from the 50s on the walls, real ones. The Braves, the Packers. They make real malts. Everyone knew each other. We had fish sandwiches and fries.

I can’t wait to go back in the spring. It closed for the season 2 days after we were there. I’m happy about that. I’d be wanting to go all the damn time but not going causing the usual battle of self denial vs desire I live with on a day to day basis. Yes, of course, I can make a hamburger and crinkle cut fries into an existential drama.



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