LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Longtime customers at the Parkette Drive-in got to say goodbye to the legendary restaurant at a memorabilia sale on Saturday.
It held special meaning for people like Kristyn Isaac and her husband, Joseph, who met on a blind date at Parkette in 2010. On Saturday, they purchased the final remaining barstool seat; it just happened to be the one Kristyn sat on during that 2010 date.
While that moment was joyous, saying goodbye to the restaurant was not.
"I hate that this place is closing; I love this place," Kristyn said. "I thought we would be able to take our kids here and say this is where Mommy and Daddy met."
Another longtime customer, Wade D. Manuel, took home several tables, chairs, and signs at the sale. Seeing it go, he said, has been heartbreaking.
"How in the world are we gonna deal without Parkette," Manuel said. "I just don't know. I'm actually ready to tear up right now. That's how much this place meant to us."
The Parkette first opened in 1951, gaining fame for its "Poor Boy" burger and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Wade, like everyone else, didn't get to plan for a final meal at Parkette because it closed abruptly. The business had been losing money for years, said Bryan Tipton, the son-in-law of the late founder, Joe Smiley.
"Nobody wanted it to come to this," Tipton said. "It is what it is. This model doesn't work anymore."
His family will continue to own the property and ensure the Parkette sign will stay up, even after someone new fills the property and the Parkette building likely comes down.
Bryan's wife, and the daughter of Joe Smiley, Melissa Tipton, said Saturday has been very tough for her and her family.
"It's like losing my dad for the second time," she said. "This place was everything to him."
She hopes all customers smile when they look at the memorabilia they picked up on Saturday.
"I hope people are able to take their memories from here and share them with other people," she added.
Yet, the Parkette story might not be over, she said. While nothing is set in stone, Parkette may live on in another way. Bryan said they are considering writing a book, which could be the home of recipes used by Parkette.
Asked about the possibility of a Parkette Food Truck, both Bryan and Melissa said it's something they'd consider if they were approached.
There were still a few unpurchased items left at the end of Saturday's sale. If you are passing by and see something you like, Bryan says you can contact them at email@example.com.