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'I really take a lot of pride in opening it back up'

Zoe Greszler • Jun 28, 2019 at 7:00 PM

WILLARD — The Willard Drive Thru was a community staple over the years before closing about a year and a half ago. Not only has it reopened, but the same family has returned to the business. 

Eric Donnamiller has taken over the Willard Drive Thru again after his father and mother, Roger Donnamiller and Linda Florez, formerly owned and operated the convenience stop from 1982 through 1995. The couple continued to own the property, but sold the business.

About a year ago though, Eric Donnamiller said he decided to get back into the family business — a source of pride, considering how hard his parents worked for it. The son also owns The Shoe, a local bar.

“I was a little young to remember fully, but my father bought the drive-thru in 1982 after going to over a half a dozen lenders before finally getting a loan to make it happen,” Donnamiller said. “It has been a huge part of our family ever since. The drive-thru has really meant a lot to our family and the community for decades. 

“Once the drive-thru became vacant, I knew I had to take the opportunity to bring it back and serve the Willard community like it has always done.”

It meant a lot to him as well. Donnamiller said he has brought back several aspects of the Willard DriveThru that meant a lot to him as a child, such as “slush puppies for the kiddos.”

“I remember getting them all the time as a kid and want to continue that tradition,” he added. “I’m very proud to be able to have the opportunity to bring the Willard Drive Thru back to its former glory as it has been a staple in Willard for decades.”

Besides that Donnamiller said the drive thru will be “well stocked,” offering state-minimum pricing on its alcohol products, with fast and convenient service. He added the “great, friendly” staff will put the customer first too.

In fact, general manager Jared Dawson said the Willard Drive Thru is a mark above the rest because of the wide variety of beers it offers.

The selection doesn’t stop at the visible coolers. Dawson said the business offers a walk-in cooler and beer cave that customers are welcome to “explore, walk around and peruse.”

He and Donnamiller said their focus is going to be on letting people know the business is reopened and helping to draw them back from the local competition — something they think they have a good chance at doing.

“We’ve been the second only to Cedar Point in Budweiser sales in the northern part of the state,” Donnamiller said. “We’re also one of the bigger lottery sales around here too. ... And we have the lowest price for ice as well — we called around. And we’re willing to stock things we don’t have. If people want it, it will be in stock, it’ll be cheap and it’ll be fast.”

The process of reopening the business has been a long one, but Donnamiller said he is “very pleased to finally be opening” — something he couldn’t have done without the support of his family and friends.   

“I really take a lot of pride in opening it back up and I hope to bring it back to its former glory,” he said.

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