Before Big Macs, Big Three ruled Asheville burger scene

“Asheville’s first drive-in was Buck’s Restaurant, founded by John ‘Buck’ Buchanan in 1946….

“The next drive-in to come to Tunnel Road was Wink’s, which had a radio tower and disk jockey perched on the roof during peak cruising hours. The DJ, writes [Rick McDaniel, author of  Asheville Food: A History of High Country Cuisine], ‘would lower a peach basket on a rope down to would-be Romeos, who would send up their requests for songs to be dedicated over the air to their sweeties below’….

“On the other side of the Tunnel was the third drive-in, Babe Malloy’s. ‘The Big Three’ created somewhat of a ‘cruising circuit,’ said McDaniel. ‘All the kids made a loop around the three to see who was at which one.

” ‘The Big Three lasted from the 1950s to about 1975. Back then, you didn’t have a McDonald’s every 5 feet…. Eventually all of the fast food places started popping up, and it drove the traditional drive-ins out of business because of advertising — kids wanted to eat what they saw on TV.”

— From “The history of the Asheville burger” by Mackensy Lunsford in the Asheville Citizen-Times (Aug. 7)


10 thoughts on “Before Big Macs, Big Three ruled Asheville burger scene”

  1. Lew, you really called my number with this post. I was partial to Buck’s, but that peach basket at Wink’s was hard to resist.

  2. Thanks David….Every town ought to have its burger history recorded while people still remember a time before McDonald’s….

    1. I found your post here when I was trying to remember what they called the ham sandwich at Babe Malloy’s in Asheville. That was one of my all-time favorite sandwiches – I try to replicate it at home but that’ll never happen. Those were the good all days!

  3. They discontinued the peach basket at Wink’s, allegedly, because someone put a cherry bomb in the basket.

  4. Oh my. Today I was thinking about the “drag”. I’d drive around and around, up Tunnel Rd and down in my ford convertible. I think gas was 30 cents a gal. Those were the days! I’ll never forget those chipped beef sandwiches at Babe Maloys, I’ve tried to make them but not the same. I remember Winks lowered down a rusty tin can in the earlier days. What memories!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *