CLEAR LAKE | A drive-in diner that has served the Clear Lake community for nearly six decades has shut it doors.

The Barrel Drive-In, a diner renowned for its broasted chicken and homemade root beer, permanently closed late last week.

Julie Pals, 54, is a local photographer who snapped pictures of the diner's iconic barrel being hauled away Sept. 29. 

Courtesy Julie Pals
The Barrel Drive-In's iconic barrel was hauled away Sept. 29.

"I was sad about it," Pals about the diner closing. "I was hoping someone would save it, I love the Barrel chicken and the atmosphere the place had."

Several Clear Lakers and North Iowans expressed their reaction to the news on a post on the Clear Lake, Iowa, Facebook page Sept. 30.

JEFF HEINZ, The Globe Gazette
Barrel Drive-In employee Justin Bryant says community support has been "fantastic."

"If it weren’t for the Barrel drive-in, I wouldn’t be here," wrote Kelsey Kuns, a photographer based in Washington, D.C. "My parents met while working there as teenagers. Sad to see it go."

"Oh so Sad!!" wrote Diana Grinkley, who now resides in Manchester, Illinois. "How am I going to get my DELICIOUS Barrel chicken!! I can't believe it's closing for good. Good luck to you Seth and GOD Bless!"

Seth Thackery, owner/operator of The Barrel Drive-In, declined comment Tuesday. 

"I have just been recently advised not to say anything until the closing has gone through," he said via email. 

File photo
Barrel owner Seth Thackery. 

The Barrel Drive-In had been put up for sale earlier this year, after community members had rallied to try to save it.

As of Wednesday evening, county property records show Thackery still owns the drive-in. It is listed on Iowa Realty's website at $398,000.

Dick Hayes, the real estate agent listed with the property, declined to comment Wednesday.

File photo
The Barrel Drive-In in Clear Lake in July 2014. 

Casey's General Store — which has a branch next door — has offered to buy the property in the past. Kirk Haworth, vice president of real estate, and Jay Soupene, senior vice president of operations, didn't immediately respond to phone messages left by the Globe Gazette Wednesday. 

In August 2014, volunteers painted the entire exterior of the building. Earlier that month, Thackery won $75,000 in internet marketing, business consulting and other related services.

ARIAN SCHUESSLER, The Globe Gazette
Volunteer Doug Marty of Williamsburg, Va., helps paint the Barrel Drive-In. The fresh paint is part of a community effort to help repair and retain the historic drive-in.

A "Save the Barrel" website was made, and business was so successful that year that Thackery stayed open a month later than usual.

The following year, he opened the drive-in with new lights, renovated bathrooms and a new sound system that played 1950s tunes for customers.

JEFF HEINZ, The Globe Gazette
The Barrel Drive-In's dining area was renovated over the winter.

Now, the nearest Barrel Drive-In is in West Union, about a 90-minute drive away.

Of all the things Pals enjoyed while eating there, she'll miss one thing the most.

"The food," she said with a laugh. "Probably the food."

File photo
The Barrel Drive-In in Clear Lake in July 2014. 

Contact Steve at 641-421-0527 or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.

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