Herald JournalHerald Journal, Sept. 5, 2005

Delano's Peppermint Twist offers outdoor atmosphere

By Liz Hellmann
Staff Writer

Vickie and Michael Mirenda of Delano, run one of the few remaining drive-in restaurants in the state, and have been putting their own special twist on the business for 23 years.

The Mirendas own the Peppermint Twist in Delano, and offer everything from burgers to shakes, delivered right to the customer’s car window.

“You can have the real experience of driving up, and the car hop will put the tray on your car, just like in the ‘50s,” Vickie said.

The Peppermint Twist stands out, not only because it is a drive-in, but also because of its unique color scheme. It is hard to miss the bright pink and green building along Highway 12 in the middle of town.

The color scheme was purposely designed to stand out from another restaurant that set up shop several years ago, Hardees.

When the Mirendas bought the building it was an old-fashioned A&W, featuring a red and yellow color scheme, which is similar to Hardees. After the restaurant left the A&W franchise to become the Delano Drive-In, the color scheme stayed.

When the Hardees moved in, the Mirendas decided it was time for a change. “We needed to draw attention to ourselves,” Vickie said.

In 1988, they painted the building pink and green, and the Peppermint Twist was born.

Along with updating the color scheme, the Mirendas focused on one of the unique features about a drive-in, the outdoor environment.

“It’s a restaurant with a playground,” Vickie said. Besides a playground, the Peppermint Twist is home to Teddy Bear Park, a name given to it by its littlest customers.

“We set out a couple big stuffed bears for the kids to play with, and they started calling it Teddy Bear Park,” Vickie said.

The park also houses several picnic tables, which can work well with children.

“It’s a place parents can come and enjoy their dinner, without worrying if their kids have perfect table manners or not,” Vickie said.

Vickie and Michael both worked in restaurants before buying the Peppermint Twist, but running a drive-in offers unique challenges.

“It’s seasonal here, so everything is outside. We are totally dependent on the weather,” Vickie said.

Although they are open only during the warmer months, weather can become a big problem, even when they are closed.

Five years ago, a canopy collapsed from snow pressure and ruined parts of the building, necessitating a major make-over. “That ended up being a good thing for us, because we needed it anyway,” Vickie said.

The Peppermint Twist’s burgers, chicken sandwiches, and famous raspberry shake have drawn more than just a local crowd, and even some fame.

“People come from quite a distance,” Vickie said.

The restaurant was also the subject of a show on the Food Channel three years ago. “They rated us one of the best drive-ins. That’s something you can be really proud of,” Vickie said.

The Peppermint Twist is also featured in the book “Roadfood,” written by Jane and Michael Stern.

Fame hasn’t gotten the best of the Mirendas, as they remember the real reason they are able to stay in Delano.

“We aren’t planning to go anywhere for awhile, but I guess that’s up to our customers,” Vickie said. “If they keep coming, we’ll keep feeding them.

The Peppermint Twist closes for the season Oct. 9. Currently, it is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. During the summer months, it stays open until 10 p.m.

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