When Dairy-Ette opened in 1956, it wasn’t a classic piece of Americana. But it is now. It harkens back to a time when teenagers spent their Friday nights cruising around town with friends, when lovebirds were “going steady.” It’s a real drive-in, a place where East Dallasites have been going for generations.

As cars approach 9785 Ferguson Road, their drivers anticipate the treat to come. Taste buds tingle at the thought of the juicy burgers, the ice-cold, homemade root beer, the piping hot fries. Hungry neighbors arrive at Dairy-Ette, only to find it closed.

“I usually put ‘gone fishin’ on the door,” owner Bob Prinkryl says. “And we’ll be back, and then everything hopefully will get all put together again the way it’s supposed to be.”

Neighbors who’ve been around a while know Dairy-Ette takes a vacation every summer. This year, it’s starting around Aug. 1, and the drive-in will be closed for at least two weeks.

Most of the time, the burger joint is open during its posted operating hours. But sometimes, customers have shown up, not knowing it wasn’t open.

“I went within the last two months or so, can’t remember the exact time of day,” neighbor Michael Haring commented on a Facebook post in June. “They were closed, but the hours posted on the window indicated that they still should’ve been open at the time.”

The woman speaking on Dairy-Ette’s recorded phone message says the drive-in is open 11 a.m to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 11 a.m to 3:30 p.m. Sunday. She asks whoever’s on the other end of the line to call the restaurant before they come, just to verify it’s open.

Prinkryl says at some points, he’s had to close unexpectedly because of a lack of employees able to work a given day.

“That’s all getting ironed out right now,” he says.


“I drive by there daily and they look to be very much open.” — Kimberly Samford 

“We went there two Fridays ago and they were open.” — Phyllis Rankin Riddle 

“They usually take a week vacation closer to summer. They do this every year, not sure if that is the case.” — Fidencia Deffren

“Was just there yesterday for lunch!” — James Ray Pena 

“It was 7 p.m. on Saturday, pulled under the awning, and they locked up. It wasn’t (the) first time it’s happened.” — Jesse Madsen