Idaho’s iconic Spud Drive-in goes out of business
By Angus M. Thuermer Jr., Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Date: May 19, 2011
After 58 years as a landmark on the west slope of the Tetons, the Spud Drive-in and its mammoth truck-mounted potato replica are out of business.
The drive-in theater between Driggs and Victor, Idaho, will not open this summer, manager Keith Zednik said Wednesday.
The theater and its property are owned by Wydaho Group LLC, made up of Lenny Zaban and other partners, Zednik said.
The company had hoped to transform the theater when it bought the property in 2009. It appeared headed in the right direction when owners booked Widespread Panic for a concert in 2010, drawing a crowd of more than 4,000.
“Since the event was such a success, we intended to make it an annual occurrence,” the business’ management said in a letter to the editor submitted to the Jackson Hole News&Guide on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, we were surprised and quite disappointed to find that there was competition in the area for the same event on the same weekend in 2011.”
The letter did not specify what that competition was, but Grand Targhee Resort has booked the popular band to play shows July 1-3 this summer.
The letter said Spud management came into the area at some expense and risk, seeking to blend into the community by selecting quiet weekends during which to spread its wings while it respected other businesses in the area, the letter said.
Owners were disillusioned, however.
“We personally feel that our work and efforts in 2010, for whatever reason, did not receive the same respect in return,” the letter stated.
The drive-in cannot operate under the old movies-only model, the letter said. Management is “quite disappointed and heartbroken,” according to the letter.
Zednik said the landmark will not immediately disappear. “The truck and potato will stay,” he said.
Known as “Old Murphy,” the Chevy cab-over truck is a 1946 model. The spud itself weighs 2 tons.
Ace Wood built the drive-in in the spring of 1953. Owners will entertain offers for the property, Zednik said. Interested parties can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.