BY JACLYN ROSE –
In 1975, Don and Judye Myers along with their three children: Cotye Myers, Brandi Myers Sachs, and Justin Myers, moved to Mena from Fort Smith. They knew they wanted to get into the drive-in business and started what was originally a Sonic, and later was changed to Myers Cruizzers Drive-In. Almost 40 years later, they have become a local institution. If you have been in Mena long, you probably have fun memories of the drive-in, and most likely a favorite meal or drink that goes a long with them.
“We have met a lot of great people and over my time have had, I don’t know how many hundreds of high school kids work here, and you know sometimes a male and female would both work here and then get married and their kids work here when they’re in high school. Now we have some of their grandkids. We have a long history,” explained Don.
Cotye, Brandi, and Justin, all Mena High School graduates, grew up in the business, and started working there when they were old enough. “When we were little, Justin and I used to get in trouble for opening chip packages and not eating them all,” said Brandi with a laugh. “And when Justin was little we would put him in a big chip box so he would stay still. He won’t exactly fit in one now,” added Don. The three Myers children now run Cruizzers for the most part and give their dad a much needed break. “Dad used to work from open to close everyday of the year, except Christmas and Thanksgiving. We now have an assistant manager, Nick Vekre, who has been with us since he was sixteen. He’s the only person who watches it when we’re not here, so we can be together as a family when we need to be,” explained Brandi. “He is the same thing as family to us,” added Justin.
Every order placed at Cruizzers is made hot and fresh, nothing is pre-cooked. The Myers family, and their employees, work hard to give their customers exactly what they want, exactly the way they want it. “We switched from Sonic to Cruizzers because they wouldn’t let us put on the menu what Mena customers wanted us to serve them,” explained Justin. “We always put the customer first,” added Don. “One time we had a hamburger wrong so I drove thirty miles out to the lady’s house to deliver a correct one. She couldn’t believe I would drive that far for one burger but she was happy,” said Justin.
Through their business, the Myers family has met many interesting people. “One time we had a customer drive 800 miles in a day to eat an order of pickle-o’s and left the next day,” said Cotye. “We have built a relationship with many of our customers. We know what they are going to order when they pull up. We’ll say, there’s Coke guy, or Pepsi guy, or bacon cheeseburger,” said Brandi.
The Myers family and Cruizzers are also passionate about Relay for Life. “We got involved in 2012 after my aunt died of pancreatic cancer. It was very fast; she passed away three months after her diagnosis. We have really had a blast serving food and raising money for the cure,” explained Brandi.
“Some of the best young youth in the world work here. You couldn’t find a better bunch,” said Don. “We try to make everyone feel like family, and make it fun. Many of our employees leave and then come right back, or go off to college and then come back to work. We are so thankful for our wonderful employees and for David Jones who is our radio man. He does a great job,” added Brandi. “We work hard to keep everything consistent, I don’t like change. We’ve been here nearly 40 years and we have fought through tornados and high water but we are still here,” said Don.