CLEAR LAKE — Seth Thackery started working at the Barrel Drive-In at the age of 14.
Now at 27, he owns the Clear Lake institution.
Thackery leased the business for two years from former owners Deb Lincoln and her late husband, Tom, prior to taking over ownership last month.
The Lincolns had owned the business since 1998. The drive-in was started by Ed and Lois Kotz of Clear Lake in 1958. The couple hired Thackery in 1995.
“I’ve worked for every owner,” he said.
But he was closest to Tom Lincoln, who died in October 2007.
“He was my mentor. He showed me the business side of things,” Thackery said. “We complemented each other in working styles perfectly. We were best friends. He was an awesome co-worker.
“He’s watching over me. He’s making sure I’m not screwing up.”
Thackery graduated from Clear Lake High School in 1998. Besides his years at the Barrel, Thackery managed Bennigan’s in Clear Lake.
He plans to spruce up the building, but customers don’t have to worry about him making any changes to the menu. The Barrel will continue to offer the same popular menu of homemade french fries, onion rings, burgers and fried chicken.
Thackery plans on doing some painting around the place, including giving the drive-in’s chicken mascot a fresh coat of paint.
He also wants to get the car-hop stands rewired before summer visitors start pouring in.
Thackery knows it’s a big responsibility taking over a town landmark.
“It’s kind of like the Surf. It’s a part of Clear Lake.”
The drive-in opened for the season on Feb. 6.
“To me it’s honest work, and the harder I work the more money I’ll make.”
The drive-in is located on Highway 18 West and is open from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.