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Tanya's Drive In now open for business

A place to eat geared toward the family ... Tanya Fillingim, with the support of her two children, Samantha and Jesse, and her husband, Schon, opened Tanya’s Drive In on Saturday, January 27. Starting out quiet and small, she is working at big plans for the future, such as maybe a drive-in window. No alcohol nor tobacco, just good food and lots of smiles.

"It's a family drive in, a family restaurant where we cater to the family atmosphere," said owner and manager Tanya Fillingim, as she points at the high chairs in the corner and pats the shoulders of her own two children.

What used to be BJ's Corner has changed hands and reopened. The building has gotten new carpeting and linoleum, and has seen some cleaning and small repair work, but everything else is basically the same, according to Fillingim.

The interior of the building might look familiar, as does the owner. A graduate of Philip High School, Tanya years ago helped her parents run The Ridge restaurant near Billsburg (now the T-34 truck stop). Her parents, Jim and Sandra Blair, got out of the restaurant business in the mid-1980s, and went more into farming and raising hogs. When her parents moved to Pierre about five years ago, Tanya stayed on to work for the new landowners who were out of Minnesota.

Now she is running a business on her own. Her father is "helping her get started and basically just helping out," according to Jim Blair, "I'm just in the background." He thinks Tanya will do all right, especially after the quiet opening on Saturday, January 27, when Blair says, "She had a good opening, around 50 people were here for breakfast." The sitting capacity is around 50 people.

The restaurant started out quietly, because "with a new business, everything is a test," said Fillingim. "To do it right and please your customers, like any business, there is more to it than meets the eye."

"Everybody has been great," said Fillingim. "The community has been real supportive. They say its good food - the best burgers - and that's the best testimony you can have." The Morrison family, who operate a service station just across the street, have been helping in many ways with the start of the restaurant, which is appreciated by Fillingim. One such help was filling in with waiting on tables until another part time person could be hired.

Now, the employees consist of one full time and two part-time people. "I plan on hiring more local help for the summer, having a special every day, increasing the usual hours and maybe staying open later on sports nights once we are really up and running," said Fillingim.

Currently, the hours are breakfast from 6:00 to 10:30 a.m. and the lunch/supper menu from then to closing at 7:00 p.m. One possible plan for the future includes having a drive-up window.

"I needed a source of income, and this place came available at the right time in my life," said Fillingim. "Schon, my husband, is very supportive, though he probably thinks I'm crazy. Our children, Samantha (six) and Jesse (three), think the idea is great."