CLEAR LAKE | Efforts to save Clear Lake's Barrel Drive-In are gathering momentum. Owner Seth Thackery has been selected for a business makeover worth up to $75,000.
A "Save the Barrel Drive-In" Facebook page is also up and running to hopefully remind the public to patronize the business. The drive-in is located on Highway 18 West in Clear Lake.
Clear Lake businesswoman Julie Wright, owner of Executive Financial Architects, and Michael Fiala, owner of Internet Marketing and Creative.com, have agreed to provide business consulting, coaching, marketing, digital, video and internet services to Thackery over the next two years.
"It's crazy. It's all a little too surreal," Thackery said Wednesday.
Recent news stories about the struggling business have started Thackery's phone ringing.
"I've been getting numerous phone calls from people who are concerned and want to help," Thackery said. "My head is spinning in a lot of directions right now."
In an interview with the Globe Gazette recently, he talked about the financial challenges as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations needed to bring the building back to its glory days.
The drive-in was started by Ed and Lois Kotz of Clear Lake in 1958. Thackery started working at the Barrel at the age of 14 and has owned the drive-in since 2008.
Wright said the Barrel was chosen for the makeover because of Thackery's commitment to the business, his vision and values, the big challenge offered by the project and the sense of urgency and need.
Wright said she and Fiala had discussed this award for months.
"We were just days from selecting the final business when Seth’s urgent request for professional help and business needs were made public. After an initial business assessment, The Barrel Drive-In was our first choice for this significant award," Wright said.
"It is important for other business owners who are stuck or need a better operating system and marketing to know there is help locally. A rising tide lifts all boats and the better businesses do locally, the more vibrant the community becomes."
She referred to the Barrel as "one of the cultural strands of Clear Lake’s DNA" along with the Surf Ballroom.
Wright and Fiala are hoping skilled tradesmen will step forward to help with the Barrel's electrical, plumbing and construction needs.
“And buy more Barrel chicken, hamburgers and root beer this week," Fiala added.
"We want to make sure people know, go to the Barrel. He wants to remain in business. and then secondly we will figure out the building and his business skills," Wright said.
Thackery said business has been picking up. The Barrel was packed during last weekend's CLASS car show in Clear Lake.
"She (Wright) is going to show me what I need to learn to survive and once we get the building and all the physical attributes taken care of, she is going to teach me what I need to know to make this place successful again. I don't even know how to thank her."
People who would like to join the “Save the Barrel” project are asked to contact Thackery at 641-357-2600.