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Westman's newest drive-in restaurant a throwback to a simpler time

Posted by Adam in Dining, 5/14, 11:03 PM

Folks in Westman craving something new to try in the weeks and months ahead amidst current social distancing expectations in place in the Province may have just gotten their answer courtesy a new eatery opened in the Western Manitoba town of Oak Lake last week that is already getting its share of buzz on area social media. 

Joe Dandy’s Drive-in officially opened for business on May 7, serving in a drive-in format from a menu of traditional Canadian food that includes varieties of burgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers as well as an assortment of cold treats, cold and hot drinks. The signature “Manitoba Burger” is made from locally-raised bison. Coffee served comes from Oak Lake’s Cornerstone Coffee Roasting Co.  

The restaurant is a venture of five siblings from the local Thiessen family, who four of which folks might also know from their exploits as part of Oak Lake band Prairie Joe. Sister Jody and brother-in-law Joe round out the ownership group. 

The new eatery is located on 1st Avenue in Oak Lake about 35 minutes West of Brandon. The building had been home to long-time Oak Lake Drive-in “Dandy’s” until it’s closure in 2018, with the Joe Dandy’s name paying homage to the long-time institution in the community. Since being purchased by the Thiessen’s, extensive renovations have taken place and the menu completely re-done in the lead-up to this month’s opening. 

Originally intended to be quietly opened on a soft basis, word of mouth has led to a more brisk opening than first planned with the restaurant’s Mike Thiessen indicating that they’ve been up to the task. 

“So far business has been great” shared Thiessen on Thursday. “We are doing our best to provide the quality that people will expect from us while trying to keep up with the high traffic we have seen so far. It’s been a fun start!”

Ordering is done either at the window, online or by phone. The present environment has created challenges for all restaurants, with plans having to change to adapt to current times and ensure safe service. Consistent with social distancing measures in place, according to Thiessen a limited amount of spaced picnic tables are on-site. A patio and grassy area provide additional space, but not for mingling amongst those outside of same-households at this time. Any lineups that might result in waiting to order are asked to have customers spaced out by 6 feet/2 metres in consistency with markers setup on-site, with limited space allotted for four to lineup at one time. Those awaiting orders are asked to wait in vehicles until ready.  

With the Province continuing to advise against non-essential travel even within Manitoba and to limit travel to neighbouring jurisdictions, those that don’t meet that criteria should postpone any potential road trip intentions and keep an eye on continued guidance from the Manitoba Government relating to any future potential re-opening of the Province.

Joe Dandy’s employs ten. The eatery will operate on a seasonal basis into the fall, maintaining hours of 11am-10pm daily. A full menu can be seen at http://www.joedandys.com.

Photo: J. Evangeline Photography

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