After 14 years at home raising her children and supporting her husband’s trucking career, Katherine Hay thought it was time to do something for herself. That something was to buy the Oxford Drive-In, an iconic piece of Oxford County history.
“I didn’t expect this to be quite honest. It was just something we did, and it seemed like the perfect little adventure, she said. “I have been a stay-at-home mom for the last 14 years, but I ran my husband’s business as an independent trucker. He still drives for Canadian Linen Uniform.”
Katherine says the timing was right for her to take on a new adventure and she is ready for the challenge. “I’ve been home for so long and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. My two youngest are off to high school in September so what am I going to do? I love to cook, love being around people, and I was in the restaurant business before I had the kids. I see this as restaurant work along with pressing a few keys on a computer.” She admitted she still has a lot to learn but is looking forward to marketing the business and added her husband has been on her side from day one. “He’s been great. Very supportive and backing me just like I’ve backed him over the years.”
The drive-in for the most part was ready to go when Katherine made the purchase aside from some aesthetic issues. “We had to get the grass cut and we did get some gravel in. We also had to get the food truck ready and throw out some garbage. It took us a week and a half just to cut the grass. There really wasn’t a lot to do but we did update the bathrooms.”
As for what she would like to see change at the site, Katherine has a few items on her wishlist. “What we want to do is get some playground equipment in there and add a new concession stand. We want to redo the gravel on the pathways for the cars and get the mounds rebuilt. We haven’t done a lot yet and a lot of things may not change this year but to get them done for next year we had to get open and get some income coming in. We want to get the marquis sign redone so we can use that again.”
The paying public did miss having an outdoor option to watch movies in the area and so far, Katherine said the feedback has been very encouraging. “They’re happy. One lady hugged me. People say they are proud of me, they tell me to stick it out, it’s going to be a rough go for a little bit. It’s been all positive.”
Katherine has a tangible connection with the drive-in after growing up across the street from long-time owner Al McKay who ran it for 41 years. She spent many nights at the very business she bought. “I grew up around him and his kids. I contacted him to tell him I had bought it and he’s been great. I’ve called him a number of times and he even came on-site to help us. He’s been great.” Along with her husband Bob, Katherine is being helped and supported by her two daughters and son and she hoped her foray into business will serve as an inspiration for them. “It means I can show my daughters that if you set your mind to it, you can accomplish it. It’s easy to say that to our kids but I had to show them. For me, that’s the big thing.” She added that in particular her 13-year-old daughter Megan is very proud of her mom and wants to help as much as she can. “She was excited when we were even thinking of buying the drive-in. She’s helping me with all the computer stuff, working on the website. She’s the one who is my go-to and she’s enjoying every minute of it. She can see that she is capable of doing these things.” Katherine added the experience her daughter is gaining means she will have the knowledge to one day open her own business or take over the drive-in.