The oldest restaurant in Middlesboro, Conley’s Drive-In has changed locations. Not only has the business relocated but the building was moved as well. Conley’s re-opened Friday, now located on Cumberland Avenue.
The lot the restaurant had occupied for over three decades was put on the market, and owner Jackie May said if he had to buy a lot he might as well move. As it turned out, it was more cost effective to move the existing building to the new location than build a new one.
Conley’s specialty is their award-winning foot-long hot dogs and family recipe chili. Conley’s was opened in Middlesboro by Scott Conley in 1955. May’s parents purchased the restaurant from Conley in 1967. Jackie May took over in 1979 and built the current restaurant on Lothbury Avenue, where it stood for the last 35 years.
“I expect my business to double on Cumberland Avenue,” said May. “We have a large following in town, but people passing through tended to miss us in the alley.”
Conley’s re-opened on Friday at 10 a.m. and it was a non-stop rush for the rest of the day.
“It is great, said May. “People have been filing in since we opened this morning. We have been getting call-in orders and calls from as far as Knoxville from people wanting to come in to eat with us.”
The new location has a great deal more parking and the restaurant plans to add an outdoor picnic area.
The first customer at the new location was Dan Bayless. He said he’d been coming to Conley’s since 1966, and was eagerly awaiting opening day at the new location.
Another early customer on opening day, Justine Pierce said she too was excited about the re-opening. “I’ve been coming to Conley’s for years and I’m very happy they are back.”
Even the men who were tasked with moving the building to its new location had fond memories of Conley’s.
“This kind of place is a dying breed,” said Michael Mills owner of M & M House Movers. “I can remember when I was 10 or 11 years old getting milkshakes at the old location. It is pretty neat when we get to save one of them.”
Conley’s is now located at 1631 Cumberland Avenue. May has plans to hire at least six new employees and extend the restaurants hours until 10 o’clock. Once the restaurant’s hours are extended the public will be invited to a special grand opening celebration.
They are currently open from 10-7 p.m. daily and call in orders for pick up can be made at (606) 248-1741.
Reach William Tribell at 606 302-9100 or on Twitter @wtribellmdn