Saturday, February 28, 2009

No.11: Dudies Diner

Some will remember this Tupelo landmark better than I do. I'm not sure I ever ate there, but people always talked about Dudies Diner, Home of the Dudie-Burger. I believe it may have been at one time a Memphis trolley car that was moved to Tupelo to become a diner. In my memory, it was parked just south of Crosstown on the east side of Gloster. Dudies Diner has been restored and is now found at the museum at Ballard Park.

Thinking about Dudies reminds me of other similar dining experiences from my childhood and youth. O'Callaghan's Dairy Bar was located on the southeast corner of the intersection of Gloster and Jackson. The large parking lot was gravel rather than paved, and I can still hear the sound of the gravel when you pulled onto the lot. That sound was known to make a child salivate like Pavlov's dog. You could honk your horn and a carhop would come to the driver's side window. The driver placed the order after consulting with the other riders. When the carhop brought the food (burgers, malts, shakes, or maybe just an ice cream cone), the driver rolled his window down part of the way and the tray hooked onto the window. Of course you could go inside and eat at the counter from the stools or sit in a booth if you were lucky enough to get one.

Folks on the east side of town had similar dining experiences at Johnny's Drive-In. Johnny's is still an operating diner. Of course, the carhops have long since retired.

At the top of the 'Blog is a picture of Sherer's, by far the most popular spot for teenagers when I was that age. Before Sherer's there was Little Joe's Clover Leaf Drive-In on the west side of Gloster, just north of Jackson. I believe it took its name from the planned interchange of Highway 78 (now McCullough Boulevard) and Highway 45 (Gloster). The interchange never became a full clover-leaf, but Little Joe's kept the name.
A blog follower sent the following link to some historical information about the Sherer's franchise:


  1. I remember the "dairy bar". We would walk to it from my home and enjoy a cold ice cream on a hot day. I even had my 8th birthday party there.

  2. John: The current issue of Y'all, the Magazine of Southern People, has a story on Johnnie's Drive-In along with three pictures.

  3. We went to Dudies"s every day after school (if we had some money). The order was always the same...Dudie burger, bar-b-que chips, and a Pepsi.

  4. My mom worked at Wilson Guyton drugs just across the tracks from Dudies so I ate there occasionally. I still remember the sign that hung over the counter --
    If your girlfriend likes our chili - take some home to the wife and kids.

  5. Sherers was the first job I got -- on my own.
    First of several food joints I worked in over those years.
    I was thirteen and started out cleaning the lot.
    Soon I was 'promoted' to making cole slaw and turning sticks of frozen steak into paper thin slices for steak sandwiches.
    YES -- he had a 13 year old running a Hobart slicer. A different world.
    Finally -- I graduated to working the front counter -- making milkshakes and jerking sodas.
    It was an interesting time.

  6. My old hangout was the root beer place on so. gloster, then in 1965 they built a loebs bbq across the street which later became a colemans bbq. I was the night manager, is it still there?

  7. Wasn't there a Dudie's on the east side of Tupelo, out by the East Heights section near Priceville Road? It was on the right going east. We called them "Dough Burgers."

  8. Sorry, Reuben. Coleman's BBQ went the way of all flesh, years ago. Glad to know it still exists in your memory, though.

  9. James: I think the place your thinking of on East Main was Johnny's Drive In. Still there and still serving its unique version of a hamburger. No carhops, though.