Drive to Virginia finds 2 closings in Breezewood

Last weekend I drove mostly 2-lane roads to Norfolk, Virginia, and back to Pittsburgh, some 900 miles. At Breezewood, Pa., a couple long-time Lincoln Highway landmarks were out of business: the Family House Restaurant and adjacent Penn Aire Motel. I’ve stayed at the motel and it was fine but certainly on the familiar decline from 1950s fabulous to no-longer-AAA-rated. The restaurant seemed to thrive but Turnpike traffic was noticeably down this trip.



On a brighter note, the trip to Virginia included favorite roadside stops like Dinosaurland and some new ones in the Shenandoah Mountains. Flickr friend loungelistener cued me into a couple cool places on US 50 just west of Winchester, Virginia, including the curved-layout Hayfield Motel and the tiny Amherst Diner, where I had a nice breakfast.



While researching my Roadside Attractions book, I wanted to stop at Doumar’s Cones & Barbecue, opened 1934 in Norfolk and now I had the chance. Here’s 87-year-old Albert outside the cool carhop drive-in with his family’s 1905 waffle cone maker! Albert claims it was his Uncle Abe who invented the ice cream cone during the 1904 St. Louis Exposition.


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2 Responses to “Drive to Virginia finds 2 closings in Breezewood”

  1. Glenn Wells Says:

    The missing section of the Penn Aire Motel sign once had the Superior Motels logo, a four leaf clover. Superior was a referral chain which went into decline in the 1970s, and they used this standardized sign design to tie together units of this non-standardized, independently owned chain.

    For more about Breezewood, Rich Kummerlowe has a great deal of information posted about the former Howard Johnson’s:

    My own stay at Breezewood a couple of years ago was at the Ramada Inn – inexpensive and passable. The indie motels like the Penn Aire looked risky.

  2. KJD Says:

    That’s really too bad about the Family Steakhouse. I’ve eaten there many, many times over the years and had noticed it going downhill as of late. I was there in November and ate, and, like so many times recently noticed the place was about empty. It also seemed to have that gloom aura about it then, and really over the past 3 or 4 years. You know, where the staff isn’t as good, the food isn’t consistent and the place begins to look run down.

    Last summer I was up there for dinner, and had a chance to talk with a waitress who had been working there for years. I asked her if business was off, and she said it had been ever since a new giant chain joint opened up the street. She noted that a lot of their customers were older, local people who only came in to eat at the buffet and drink coffee, and that the tourists and travelers weren’t stopping in as much. Plus, she said the owners were getting up in age and weren’t running the place as well as in the past.

    The place was the last non-chain restaurant in Breezewood. Now, your really stuck if you want to eat there.

    I still remember stopping there in 1976 on a cross country drive from Connecticut to California. It was late at night, and it was snowing really bad out. We pulled in right off the toll road, and the place was pretty full. I still can remember the food we had, it was really good and the service was great. I had a massive steak that filled me up. At what now is my last stop, I had the buffet, as the menu was very limited. The service sucked, and the food wasn’t anything special.

    I had a feeling then that this place wasn’t going to be around much longer.

    Too bad.

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