SPRINGFIELD, Mo- As the owner of Taylor’s Drive-In, Darlene Collins has served the downtown Springfield area with burgers and fries, as well as memories, for 40 years.
As for the history of downtown, she has experienced A LOT of things come and go.
“When we moved here, there were a lot of businesses downtown. Sears was over where the Expo Center is, a lot of people at the phone company, fire station across the street, then when the ice park came in, they did away with all the businesses down here. So for a few years business was really really bad. But it’s changed a lot downtown since I’ve been here,” says Darlene.
The diner has been a hot spot for events, dates, and even birthdays since the 1950’s.
“This was the hang out in the 50’s, we get class reunions here periodically and of course, they’re getting older so there’s not as many of them, we had an all school class reunion once. There was another time where they came in with their old cars and their poodle skirts, that was fun.”
One of the biggest milestones celebrated at Taylor’s though,
“We had a 90th birthday in here once, and she was a regular. Her son-in-law brought her in, and she would eat a basket, and when she would pay she kept all of her coins in separate little purses.”
The one thing that Darlene says that has kept people coming back for more?
“During our anniversary we had people tell us that this tastes just liked how it did back in the day. Makes you feel good that it’s what the people remember.”
And Taylor’s has kept it original from their flavored drinks to ice cream and of course fresh ground meat; ground daily she says.
And that’s the key, you have to maintain what they remember. Flavored drinks, shakes, and malts out of hard ice cream, fresh ground meat every day.”
Darlene also says that in order to stay alive and relevant these days is to be present and talk with people.
“See I worked in the back for about 20 years, so it’s nice to be out front, people remember me from being back there but I talk to people. And people really do like to see that you’re here, they like to know that your there and that you care, especially in a small business, I think it’s important.”
Darlene says she’s experienced a lot in the past couple years but says that’s not going to stop her from serving Springfield citizens.
“I really enjoy it, and I’m getting older. Heaven knows I could’ve retired years ago. But I’ve had four surgeries and lost my husband in 2012, so during that time it made me realize I’m not ready to stay home all the time.”
“We’re only open Monday-Friday 15 hours a week and that’s all I wanna work anyway.”