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Gillmans Celebrating 60 Years
Gillmans LT
Brenda Gillman and boyfriend Manny Mate are only the fourth owners of Gillmans drive-in. Brenda is the granddaughter of the original owners and founders, John and Meda Gillman, who opened the business in 1955. RICHARD PALOMA/The Leader

Countless customers dating back several generations have made Gillman’s Drive-In a staple in Oakdale as the time-honored icon serves up milkshakes, burgers, and fries to its hungry patrons.

Since 1955, when Meda and John Gillman opened their burger joint on West F Street selling hamburgers for 19 cents, competing with the recently opened A&W, little has changed, except maybe for the prices and the page on the calendar.

“Gillman’s has been in the family for three generations,” said Brenda Gillman, who recently assumed ownership of the drive-in from her cousin.

In 1967, John and Meda sold the burger joint to son Dean and his wife Virginia. Dean and Virginia retired in 1996 selling the establishment to their son Mike who recently passed away in late 2014.

Now, after 60 years, Brenda is planning a 60th Anniversary Block Party scheduled for this Saturday, June 20.

“Sixty years only comes once,” Brenda joked.

For the event that will run from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., there will be a classic car show, craft vendors, live music, and a hamburger eating contest.

Gillman’s will also be selling special 60th Anniversary T-shirts that feature the Gillman’s logo and a picture of a 1955 Chevy in front of the noted drive-in.

“We chose the picture of the ’55 Chevy because that’s the year we opened,” Brenda said.

T-shirts will cost $15 for adult sizes and $13 for youth sizes. Brenda added that discounts will be given for multiple purchases.

In addition to the festivities, Gillman’s will be providing free ice cream to those attending the block party.

“On the day my grandfather opened up, he gave out free ice cream cones,” Brenda said. “We plan to do the same thing in commemoration.”

Brenda said she is grateful for the help she received from Sharron Hoffman and Nicole Rose to plan and pull off the Saturday afternoon celebration.

According to Brenda, Gillman’s has always, and still does, prepare everything fresh, with Brenda or boyfriend/business partner Manny Mate going shopping early each day for the diner’s needs.

“We get our meat and make our burgers fresh daily,” Brenda said.

The walk up diner has always been exactly that and it has served the owners well. Contrary to what many may think there was never a ‘dine-in’ or drive thru option.

“I’ve never been more proud to be part of the Oakdale community,” Brenda said. “Our customers and the community are amazing.”