You’ve known it as the Glacier Drive-In. Now, it’s the “Glacier D” with new owners Lee and Jill Pedersen doing the driving. Or cooking, as the case may be.
Long-time acquaintances of previous owners Sonny and Nancy Smith, the Pedersens have been hard at work putting a shine on the popular Glacier Boardwalk eating spot in time for a May 7 opening.
The new name, “Glacier D,” comes from “the burger they’re famous for,” said Lee of building on the Smiths’ tasty burger for which the eating establishment has become famous.
The menu also is built around what the Smiths’ offered, especially the Glacier D, prepared “the same way Nancy cooked it,” said Lee. New offerings will add the Pedersens’ personal touch.
“We’ll be tweaking the menu a little bit, with homemade soups, homemade chili, homemade clam chowder and bread bowls,” said Jill Pedersen. “I love to cook, so we wanted to bring that in.”
In addition, coleslaw will be added to the dinner options. There will be reindeer sausage and onions cooked on an outdoor grill and served on a bun. Burgers with two patties will now have an additional slice of cheese. Cod is being replaced with locally caught halibut. A kids’ menu featuring corn dogs, chicken nuggets and grilled cheese sandwiches is being added. A self-serve soda machine has been installed, as well as a self-serve condiment area. There also will be a cooler with energy drinks, juices and bottled water.
The May 7 opening date is a perfect time for the Pedersens to introduce “taco Tuesdays,” $1.50-each tacos with a crispy corn tortilla and Jill’s homemade chunky salsa.
“And we’re going green,” said Lee of a step toward less trash. “The paper containers are being faded out and we’re going to use plastic baskets with liners we can wash. So we have to wash a few baskets, so what. We’ll be living here.”
For 10 years, the Pedersens owned and operated L&J Bed and Breakfast and Snowmachine Tours in Homer. After the couple moved to the Soldotna area in 2006, Lee built houses and worked on the North Slope. When they heard two years ago the Smiths put the Glacier Drive-In up for sale, the Pedersens weren’t in a position to buy it.
“There was no way I could have done it by myself with (Lee) gone every two weeks,” said Jill, referring to Lee’s two-week-on-two-week-off rotation schedule on the slope. “We didn’t buy it, but that started us talking about it.”
During the past two summers, the drive-in was operated by Chip Duggan. In February, when the Smiths began plans to resume operation of the Glacier, the Pedersens were in a position to follow up on their interest in owning it.
“We’ve always wanted a restaurant. We have neighborhood parties and are always the ones elected too cook,” said Jill, defining “neighborhood parties” as events with as many as 150 guests and food that includes halibut, prime rib and roast pig. “We’re no strangers to cooking.”
The Smiths opened the Glacier Drive-In briefly in April, but an unexpected return of severe winter weather, as well as electrical and plumbing repairs they discovered were needed, caused them to close. That closure offered a break in the action so the Pedersens could step in, get repairs made, do some remodeling and begin building their menu.
“Homer Electric has worked with us. Liberty Electric saw the urgency and came right over. City of Homer (crews) came right out,” said Jill of support they’ve received to make their May 7 opening date. “All the utility companies have been an absolute charm to deal with and welcomed us back with open arms.”
In addition to buying the Glacier D, the Pedersens also purchased the building next door that formerly housed a liquor store. They are remodeling it to provide themselves a summertime living space and a commercial kitchen where Jill will prepare soups and other menu items for the restaurant.
While there may be slightly higher prices on the meals because of changes the Pedersens are making, the Glacier’s fans can rest assured one important aspect won’t change.
“We’re not raising prices on the burgers,” the Pedersens said.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.