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What's going on with the Distelfink property near Gettysburg?

Written by Dustin B Levy/The Hanover Evening Sun | Mar 12, 2018 10:53 AM
distelfink-2.jpg

The iconic neon sign in front of Distelfink Drive-In in Gettysburg, went dark in 2011. The name Distelfink is borrowed from the Pennsylvania Dutch symbol for good fortune, a yellow finch. (Photo: Dan Rainville, The Evening Sun)

(Undated) -- When David Stremmel and his wife, Melissa, are on the old Distelfink Drive-In property near Gettysburg, people can't help but come by the busy intersection and share their memories.

Banking on that nostalgia of the site, marked by the large neon sign of a yellow finch, the Stremmels are planning to revitalize the Distelfink, which has sat vacant since 2010

Eyeing a summer opening, they are looking to modernize the Straban Township structure while keeping the retro look and feel of the Distelfink, which opened in 1954.

"We just want to be a family-friendly place," said David Stremmel, of Biglerville.

The Stremmels acquired the property a little while back and were biding their time before unveiling their plans for the Gettysburg-area landmark, located at the corner of Old Harrisburg Road and Shrivers Corner just off of Route 15 in Gettysburg. 

A couple weeks ago, they began demolition of some of the building's additions from new owners over the years. They plan to keep the original building and renovate it.

They are also going to maintain and refurbish the eye-catching neon sign, now ravaged by age and rust, Stremmel said. The Stremmel family wants to embrace the history of the beloved 50s drive-in.

Their initial plan is to create a "nice little ice cream place" and go from there, he said.

"Good quality, good service, good pricing," Stremmel said.

They plan to sell soft serve and hand-dipped ice cream at the establishment, which will be family owned and operated.

The property had fallen on hard times in recent years, passing through multiple owners before falling into disrepair.

"It kind of went downhill," Stremmel said.

He described the original drive-in as a "happening place." It used to serve as many as 40 buses a day, 50 on Sundays and, at one point, employed 40 people, according to the original owner, Cecil Sandoe.

The Stremmels are anxious to reopen the establishment but want to do it properly, taking it "step by step," Stemmel said.

He mentioned the possibility of starting walk-up window service for ice cream with an outdoor seating area after the outer shell of the Distelfink is restored and redone.

The positive feedback the Stremmels have heard from locals has been encouraging, and they plan to embrace the community and the property's rich history.

"We want to do it right," Stremmel said. "We don't just want to to put some paint on it and open the doors."

 

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