I Already Miss the Kline Burgers

The words hit me like a a sledge hammer, or a telegram announcing the death of a loved one.

“Klines is closing”

Then my sister sent me the newslink. I mean, if it is on the internet, it has to be true, right?

The sad news-Kline’s Drive-In on Nokesville Road south of Manassas will close its doors on Wednesday, November 21, 2007. Lynn Kline, son of the late Paul Kline, is selling the land so a bank can be built on it and he can step back from the grueling restaurant business.

Those who have not encountered this establishment likely are saying, “So what? Restaurants close every day.”

This is true-but when that closing takes a piece of your life with it, it hurts.

I grew up with the Kline family as members of the Manassas Church of the Brethren. When I was a kid my family went out to Yorkshire to get ice cream at the original Kline’s Freeze. That place, like Carl’s down in Fredericksburg, had no indoor eating area. So they built another store south of manassas in 1969. No one thought the business would last. You had to drive over the RR tracks at Wellington Road, out past the Church of the Brethren and IBM, and past at least three farms to get there.

But it did last. In fact, it flourished.

Kline’s was like the fictional Cheers, a place where “every body knew your name.”

During the summers of my youth Dad would load us up and trawl out there for ice cream. When Dad picked me up at Boy Scout meetings and the pick up was early enough, it was out to Kline’s for foot logn chili dogs. Each of my sons have enjoyed the rite of passage of trying to eat a chocolate fudge sundae at the age of two without getting sauce on your shirt.

I am pushing fifty, and I still have not pulled that one off.

Even now, at 83, my father has been known to call me to come down, rescue him from assisted living, and commence a horizontal assault on Kline’s. We brave the horrendous traffic on southbound Va. 28 and order the usual.

Yes, the chilidog gas comes at him a lot faster now than it used to, but there are somethings that you simply should not deny yourself…like a meal of a footlong chili dog, fries, and a milkshake. It fills you up and keep the cardiologists employed, so it is kind of like multi-tasking.

When I was a child, I didn’t know restaurants or business’s closed. I thought there would always be a Dam-Side restaurant, Cooke’s Pharmacy, General Office Supply, Giacomo’s Pizza, Sloper’s Sports, Rohr’s 5 and Dime, Manassas Lumber, Commonwealth Savings and Loan, and others.

None remain. All have gone, and live on only in memory.

Soon Kline’s, with all the memories it holds for me, will also vanish.

It has been said that growing old stinks. But even worse is to see the building blocks of your memories fall beneath your eyes.  The fact that it is an inevitable part of life and progress does not make it easier.

My hometown has changed over the years, and it no longer resembles the town where I grew up.  But there are bright spots of memory that remind one of the old days…and there will be one less come late Wednesday evening.

Late Wednesday evening, I will likely shed a tear…and unfortunately it probably won’t be caused by the onions on a Kline’s Chili Dog or a Kline Burger.

I guess they are wrong…it doesn’t stink to grow old

But it really sucks.


15 thoughts on “I Already Miss the Kline Burgers

  1. Bwana:
    I am sorry to hear that Kline’s will be closing as well. When my Dad worked out in Manassas, back when I was a teenager, he would always take me to Kline for a treat of the triumvirate meal which you refered to. I am also one of those who is closer to 50 than 40 and have come to the realization that change is the only constant in life, however, is not always good. It is a shame that good local establishments are becoming a thing of the past, but the ad’s on TV tell us that we need to go to McDonalds or BK or Checkers, etc for such treats now and the small family owned business that provide that succulent service are finding it difficult to compete and most are giving up and selling. All in the name of progress. This event brings to mind two things my Dad always said when he was alive and they are 1) Unions and Televisions will be the downfall of this country and 2) We have seen the enemy and it is us! (He always said that the second was a quote from someone else, but at the moment I forget who said it)
    Happy Thanksgiving Bwana and be thankful for the few remaining joys we do have in this world.

    Bwana Fan In Vienna

  2. The second came from the late Walt Kelly of “Pogo” fame, although he said “We have met the enemy, and he is us” in both cartoons and in an Earth Day poster.

  3. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! This may be worse news than losing the majority in the Virginia State Senate. My wife and I have taken our girls to Kline’s for years. Total bummer.

  4. My father had a fall on monday and went overnight in PW hospital. we went by Kline’s after he was released this PM, and the place was lousy with folks I have not seen in years…although they had sold through the foot long hotdogs.

    On the other hand, the Kline’s Freeze in Manassas Park/Yorkshire will remain open…so those who want the ice cream are still in business.

  5. I am very sad to hear that ANOTHER piece of my childhood is closing.
    When we were little my mother used to take us to get ice cream cones and go to Manassas Airport and watch the planes take of. That was a fun event. We would stop by there after church or after a fun day on the Hersch Farm to get something to eat and sit outside on the picnic benches.
    I remember Rohr’s 5 and Dime too. Do you remember Woolworths and the snack bar? The good memories will be cherished. There really was a sense of community a REAL hometown feel.

    It is just sad….. the mom and pop shops, the warm & cozy country feel, wave to your neighbors/strangers walking , driving….. going and going and gone. 😦

  6. Do these Kline’s establishments have affiliation with several ice cream (custard, excuse me) joints of same name in Harrisonburg/Staunton? There was nothing like a Saturday afternoon, heading to the the Smoking Pig/Kline’s on Wolf St. in Downtown H-burg for a pulled pork sandwich (North Carolina style sauce if you please) and some pumpkin ice cream.

  7. JMU Duke-not to my knowledge…the Kline’s up here is sort of a cross between the Harrisonburg Kline’s and Jess’ Quick Lunch

    Redawn-I do remember Woolworth’s. My mother swore they made the best BLT sandwich EVER.

  8. the harrisonburg klines and the manassas klines have no connection.
    born in harrisonburg, raised in manassas with the owners of the drive-in, this basically sucks.

  9. Bwana,

    Redawn-I do remember Woolworth’s. My mother swore they made the best BLT sandwich EVER.

    I bet your mother enjoyed more than the BLT. I bet should would agree that it was the special ingredient, the special sauce, The ATMOSPHERE :)that made it the best ever.

    I am just guessing, as I interpret this from my point of view. We didn’t have a lot of money to spend on things, let alone eating out. When we did we shared and it was a treat ( NO, we were not considered poor,it was a lesson she tried to instill in us)
    My mother taught us to really STOP, LISTEN, FEEL, SMELL, APPRECIATE the surroundings.
    I am very thankful for that, as I type this on Thanksgiving.
    She would take us for a drive through out Middleburg, Berryville, etc., and POINT out the things in life for free that is so under appreciated,such as the clouds that day, the way the wind blew across the fields, to the beauty of the mountains to the sounds of the tiny brook that flowed by a mill that we would pulled of to explore.
    My prayer and hope on this Thanksgiving is that we all stop and look, take in the moment,be Thankful and have those days we did to reflect on and never end.


  10. Sorry, I never seem to get it right, proof reading ,until after the fact of hitting enter. ( I am a vocal person, terrible at writing )

  11. i knew that the one kline’s place was closing. but is the other one in manassas closing as well? or are they even the same people? forgive my ignorance! . . .lol

  12. Josh-

    Both are owned by the same family, but I believe Paul Kline’s son owned/ran Kline’s drive in on Va-28 heading toward Nokesville and Paul’s daughter owns and operates the Klines-Freeze in Manassas Park/Yorkshire. The latter is not closing, but it also does not have sit down space, does not have the same menu, and because of the lack of sitdown space is closed about 2 1/2 to three months of the year.

  13. I’m sorry to hear of Kline’s closure but came across this website looking for references to Giacomo’s Pizza that used to be in Manassas when I was a teenager. I’ve been on a quest to find a pizza like that wonderful thick crusted chewy (not pan pizza style) square pizza with the delicious tomato sauce that I remember. If anyone knows who makes a pizza like that, please let me know and I’ll make a road trip – or if anyone has a recipe to try or a way to contact the family to request their pizza recipe (though I wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t want to share it) I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

  14. I have never quite found the Giacomo eqivalent, perhaps because it was the first real Italian pizza place in Manassas (they were beat there by Pizza Hut)…but Antonio’s and Maggiano’s in Burke do a fair job, and for square cut pizza with a semi-sweet sauce one simply cannot beat Ledo’s pizza.

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