The fourth-generation owner of a popular drive-in is promising legions of loyal customers that he will rebuild his burned-out business.
A fire early Sunday morning damaged Boehringer's Drive-in, 3160 N. Reading Rd., also designated as Route 272, in Adamstown, Lancaster County.
Investigators said Monday that the blaze was sparked by an electrical malfunction in a milkshake machine. The fire caused about $70,000 worth of damage, but the drive-in's owner said it could have been much worse.
"I don't think that we were very far away from losing quite a bit of the building," said Chris Schnader, who has owned Boehringer's since 1992.
No one was injured, and while much of the drive-in's outside looks untouched by the fire, the inside suffered extensive smoke and soot damage.
Schnader said he expects work to get the business up and running again to take between four and six weeks, and it couldn't come at a worse time.
"That's a considerable dent in the business because of the short season to start with and the fact that college is now over and schools are just about out, and it's a very good time of the year for us. The weather is correct, so it will hurt," said Schnader, who employs between 35 and 45 people at the seasonal drive-in.
The family-owned business, started in the basement of Schnader's great-grandfather's home in 1936 and operating at its current location since the 1940s, has long been famous among generations of families for its homemade ice cream.
"Am I distraught? Absolutely, but we'll be back and as good as ever," said Schnader, who has been working at the drive-in since he was 15.