On Saturday, Sept. 7, with temperatures in the 90s, Gene Hoffman held a hose to water a little-leaf linden tree on the lot of the old Gene’s Corner drive-in building at 306 S. First St.
The tree was already 8 inches in diameter when Hoffman planted it more two decades ago and after recent sewer work on the property he worried that the tree might need some extra help.
Hoffman said he chose the linden because it is ornamental with a beautiful bloom in the spring and good shade all summer.
“We don’t want to lose it,” his wife Jo Ann Hoffman said.
A newly painted sign on the glass window of the familiar brick building reads “Hoffman’s Drive-In Opened in 1963.”
The building became empty earlier this year when Dennis Scoles, who operated a summer ice cream stand there for 12 years, bought the building next door and moved his business there.
Gene and Jo Ann Hoffman constructed the 20- by 34-foot building in 1963 and operated the drive-in until 12 years ago when they leased the building to Scoles.
Under the Hoffman family, the business has been known as Hoffman’s Drive-In and Gene’s Corner.
At various times, Hoffman also sold plants from the lot, a practice that he intends to do again in the spring of 2014.
The couple have deeded the drive-in building to their five children — Clay, Phina, Steve, Tony and Amelia Hoffman Tims.
Clay plans to operate the drive-in.
The interior of the building has been repainted a crisp white and stainless steel ice cream freezers and soft serve dispensers were installed. A deep fryer sits waiting to be installed and a new grill and hood are on order.
“He (Clay Hoffman) will probably open the last part of March or first of April,” the elder Hoffman said. “By some miracle, he might open for a couple of days this fall — if everything comes together.”
The drive-in will serve hamburgers, Hoffman’s traditional chuck wagon sandwiches, french fries and soft serve ice cream.
“All the ice cream will be bought right here in Pacific from Pacific Valley Dairy in the Midwest Industrial Park,” Hoffman said. “There’s nothing like it. It has a unique taste.”