by Tara Walker
If you are driving through Granby, you will notice a big change along Highway 40. The vacated building that used to house Pearl Dragon is now a bright shiny 50’s style diner that is very busy.
Earlier this month, the soft opening at Debbie’s Drive In featured burgers, milkshakes, salads and wraps. The food is fresh and is never frozen or pre-made, and the owners aim to give customers a good value. You can get a burger for $4.95 or a cheeseburger for $5.45.
“We wanted to make sure we were providing quality food at an affordable price,” said owner and manager Debbie Fitch.
Debbie, her husband, Cameron Fitch and her son Jonah Landy are not strangers to the food business – the experienced restaurateurs also developed Grand Lake favorites, Squeaky B’s, Lulu City and Cork on the Water.
Debbie explains, “We opened Squeaky B’s and had so much fun, we started looking at buildings that were already vacant in Granby. For me, having vacant properties in Grand County is not good for anyone.”
Continuing she says, “We absolutely love Granby, and every time we came into Granby, the people were so friendly. When we saw that Pearl Dragon had left, we looked at the building and remembered when it was the old A&W, and thought this could be really fun to bring back a little nostalgia to Grand County with a 50’s style diner.”
Debbie credits Frank and Travis Applelhans for their excellent remodel work. When customers step in the restaurant now, they wouldn’t realize it was a Chinese restaurant a few months ago. While 50’s music puts a bounce in your step, you walk onto black and white checkered floors and are surrounded by shiny white tables with bright red chairs.
The owners are planning to repave the parking lot and put in the infrastructure for a drive in, but the snow delayed those plans. Debbie’s Drive In will eventually have tables outside and will bring orders out to the car. They hope customers are going to enjoy sitting outside in the summer or bringing their dogs for a nice casual family dining experience.
“Grand County is really special because you feel like you step back in time, so we thought this concept would be a great fit for Granby,” said Debbie. “We call this farm style. It’s slow, fresh food served fast. The burger is fresh not frozen, but very different than Squeaky’s. I try to make food I would like to eat. Our salads are field greens and hopefully everyone likes what I like.”
The soft opening menu includes items like burgers, shakes, fries, chicken ranch wraps, BBQ chicken wraps, garden salad, grilled chicken salad and a kids cheesy melt. Burgers are served with lettuce, tomato, grilled onion and groovy sauce. Debbie’s makes their own soft serve ice cream for their milkshakes, and you can choose from vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and caramel, with add ins like heath bars, cookie dough, and M&Ms.
“I went to ice cream school,” Debbie said with a laugh, “It’s really a thing, and that’s where I learned to make gelato for Lulu City. This is the perfect place to do soft serve.”
Debbie is also thankful that she is able to work with the family she adores. Her husband is an inventor who invents medical devices, but he is often dancing behind the grill to 50’s tunes. Her son, Jonah has been invaluable with his CSU hospitality management and culinary degree. Debbie also adds, “He is one of the nicest people who ever lived and has the heart the size of Texas.”
Her daughter Tessa Fitch and her son Drew Landy also help out on the weekends.
“I am super lucky that I like my family and I get to work with them. I don’t take that for granted,” she shares.”We are lucky that we found something that we can do together and enjoy.”
Located at 663 West Agate Avenue, Debbie’s Drive In is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can learn more about the diner at www.debbiesdriveindiner.com.