Practically speaking, the Dixie has to be a drive-in. With just six booths, 15 stools, and a bathroom around back, the building is too small for many diners to eat inside.
This is the way Howard and Edith Stevens, the Dixie's founders, imagined the place. Howard had worked nights on the short-order line at a drive-in after spending the day laboring on the family farm outside Whiteville. When he and Edith decided to sell the farm and open the Dixie in 1963, their sons — George, Steve, and Tony — were nearly grown.
Older patrons can tell you how they remember the husband-and-wife team: Edith cooking fries while Howard worked the grill in a long-sleeve shirt and dress shoes. They claim they never saw a stain of mustard or ketchup on Howard.
They also remember how the sons came in after school and worked shifts. Now those shifts have turned into careers: George has never worked anywhere else; Steve came back after serving in the Air Force; and Tony, a Baptist preacher on the side, found his way home after attending Bible college.
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