NORTH ADAMS -- Pedrin's Dairy Bar is more than a place to eat mid-March to mid-October -- it's a warm-weather staple for residents of Northern Berkshire.
Originally a train stop, the building was purchased by Julio and Rita Pedrin in the early 1950s, who refurbished it and opened it as Pedrin's Dairy Bar, serving hot dogs, hamburgers and grinders.
Gordon and Amy Deeb bought it in 1963 and, over the years, transformed it into a booming business. The Deebs added the now-infamous fish fry and perfected its onion ring batter and cole slaw recipes.
"People ask for our cole slaw recipe all the time," said Peggy-Anne (Deeb) Oleskiewicz, who now owns the eatery with her brother, Gordon, of North Carolina. "But we won't give it out."
Pedrin's has an extensive menu, as evidenced by the sign that runs the length and sides of the building's eaves.
"We were noted in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the longest continuous menu," Oleskiewicz said.
On a typical Saturday in summer, she said, the staff serves more than 500 orders.
Pedrin's is a family affair in many ways. Generations of the Deeb family have worked there; manager Jeffrey Brassard, now 48, started working at the dairy bar when he was 14, and his son, Scott, works there now, as does a nephew. Many staff members are the sons and daughter of former employees. (Pedrin's currently has five full-time employees and 30 high school and college students who work part-time.)
Families have been coming to eat there for generations also.
"A customer, Barbara, came to the dairy bar as a child and would always order wing dings," Oleskiewicz said. "Now she's a mother with grown kids -- and they all come and eat wing dings."
"It's fun to watch them coming as kids, then driving here as teens, getting married and then bringing their own kids," she said.
On a recent warm night, Anita Konopka of North Adams was dining with her friend, Jess Fellows of Townshed, and Fellow's two sons.
"I first came to Pedrin's when I came here to college," Konopka said. "It's where you go when you live in North Adams. What is summer without Pedrin's? You wait for the day it opens in the spring and you're sad when it closes in the fall."
John Sullivan, of North Adams, was dining with his friend, Ralph Underwood.
"When we were kids, we would come and play miniature golf [at an adjacent course] and then have dinner. There was always a cool breeze, no matter how hot it was," Sullivan said. "There was a swing set here, too."
Underwood, 85, said he had been coming since he was a young man, and though he no longer drives, he already had been there twice this summer.
And how about Pedrin's for a prom dinner? A few years ago, Pedrin's hosted 25 to 30 couples from Pittsfield, who ordered off the menu. Before their arrival, their parents set the picnic tables out back with linen tablecloths and decorations. Everything was ready when the tux- and prom dress-clad teens arrived in their limousines.
This week, for the first time, Pedrin's will serve food away from its iconic home base, at the the ninth Annual Rock, Rattle & Drum Powwow, Aug. 9 and 10 at Bowe Field in Adams. Oleskiewicz estimates they will serve as many as 5,000 to 7,500 people with hot dogs, hamburgers, French fries, sausage and peppers and homemade ice cream sandwiches.