By Morgan Bryce
Opelika’s chili dog and milkshake destination “Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar” has been passed down to fifth-generation family member Blake Boothe.
Becoming the store’s official owner July 1, Blake said he looks forward to the challenge of building and maintaining the store’s solid reputation which spans more than 66 years.
“There’s a pride aspect to it, but it’s definitely all on me now. There’s not so much pressure as it is just realizing that it’s all yours now,” Blake said. “It’s just going to take some getting used to.”
Mrs. Story’s was founded in 1952 by Pepperell residents Dan and Annie story, who originally opened it under the name of “Dari Delite.”
Following a visit in 1950 to see Dan’s sister in New Mexico, Dan’s experience at a similar restaurant “Dari Delite” inspired him to open one of his own in Opelika.
After purchasing a franchise agreement from the company, the Story’s operated the business under the Dari Delite name for the next 10 years until the agreement expired.
In 1962, at the conclusion of their agreement with Dari Delite, the Story’s renamed the business “Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar,” one of the few changes made in its existence.
The restaurant changed hands twice during the next 56 years, as Blake’s grandmother Cora Reames and parents Bob and Rhonda Boothe operated the business from 1976-1997, and 1997-2018, respectively.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”
The restaurant’s reputation for consistency and quality has spread beyond the Opelika city limits to both Alabama and the Southeast, winning multiple recognitions and was recognized last year as being the source of “Alabama’s Best Milkshake.”
“The food hasn’t changed. It’s the same deal, same people day in and day out,” Blake said.
Rhonda added that their loyal customer base within the Opelika-Auburn area is another cornerstone of the business.
“You hear people say after they come for the first, ‘oh, I’ll be back’ or those coming from out of town say ‘that’s the first place they’ll want to go eat when they get here.’ And we hear that all the time,” Rhonda said.
“We pride ourselves on having a friendly environment. There may be long lines from time to time, but that’s just a part of it,” Blake said. “Here, you’re always guaranteed to have good food and a good experience, and that’s something (that) I want to keep offering to our customers.”
Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar is located at 1900 Pepperell Parkway. For more information or to place a to-go order, call 334-749-1719.