Hometown Eats: Fenderz Drive-In

Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 4:40 PM EDT
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COLLINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - Welcome to Tim and Stacy Connor’s blast from the past in Collinsville, Fenderz Drive-In.

“We play Andy Griffith on the TV, just DVDs. We don’t have cable, we don’t sell alcohol, we don’t have Wi-Fi,” bragged Stacy.

“We try to keep some of our specialty burgers and sandwiches themed to the restaurant, like a famous song or person,” added Tim.

Like the Big Bopper, a thick piece of bologna with Duke’s mayo, lettuce, and tomato on Texas toast with hand-cut fries.

“I had a bologna burger and boy it was good, no bologna,” joked regular Gene Parker

And what’s a diner without chili dogs?

“They were good, nice homemade slaw on top and good chili. Chili makes the dog,” said first-time Fenderz customer Alan Messenger.

“New customers and returning customers and returning customers that love coming here. They love the atmosphere, music, food, it’s just an awesome place to eat,” said Tim.

The story behind this little diner is pretty awesome, too. The Connors came down from Pennsylvania for work, but something was missing, a place that reminded them of the diners back home. They had the drive; now they needed a name.

“Our first pick was the Tail Fin, but we quickly decided against that because we didn’t want people to think we were a seafood restaurant. Then we mentioned Fenderz spelled with a Z on the end,” said Tim.

12 years later, Fenderz is firing on all cylinders, but the history on the walls goes back a lot further than that.

“I can always make room for more (stuff),” joked Tim.

You’ll find license plates, radios, bowling pins, celebrities, and some pictures near and dear to The Connors’ hearts.

“Both of our fathers were Vietnam veterans,” Tim said with pride. For that fact, ever Veterans Day, veterans eat for free.

“That really hits home for us, so it’s our way of giving back and saying thank you,” added Tim.

Another way they give back to their customers is buying local and serving fresh hand-cut fries and onion rings.

“We have never, ever sold a frozen French fry and I will not ever. No matter how much our vendors say, ‘these frozen taste just like fresh-cut and your customers would never know,’ and I told them I would know,” said Stacy.

There’s a lot to see but the one that turns every head in the diner is the Fender Bender. A grilled cheese base, stacked a mile high with pickles, mustard, ketchup, diced onions, a 4-ounce burger, a bun, another 4-ounce burger with cheese and bacon, tomato, lettuce, Duke’s mayo and a top bun.

“We had an older lady a few months ago, her and her friend came in and were sitting at the bar and she didn’t realize what a fender bender was and when I took it out to her, and her jaw dropped. The lady who was with her just busted out laughing and a guy on the other side got his phone out and goes ‘I want to see you eat this, I’m going to film this,’” said Tim.

Sadly, we don’t have that video, so you’ll have to settle with me tackling it. To the last bite.

You gotta have a Side Car with the Fender Bender and probably the most popular are the hand-cut onion rings that take a bath in a special wet batter Stacy concocted.

And in true diner fashion, a sweet frozen treat to wash it all down.

“It’s just a fun place to come,” said Stacy.

“People are friendly, good food, you can’t beat that,” said Parker.

“We just knew in our hearts it would somehow work and it did. 12 years later we’re still here,” said Tim.

Fenderz Drive-In, a hometown eat with a license to grill.

You can find Fenderz Drive-In at 3627 Virginia Ave, Collinsville, VA 24078.