The Beacon Drive-In:

Great Memories A-Plenty

By Dick  Bourne, Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Part of the Gateway Series on Great Food for Your Great Wrestling Road Trip


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Beacon Web-Site

The Beacon Drive-In is located at 255 John B. White Sr. Boulevard, Spartanburg, SC.

Phone 864-585-9387

Check out Guy Fieri's feature on the Beacon on Diner's, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

Hear J.C. call out an order at the Beacon

12 second audio clip from the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives feature on the Beacon


The Beacon Drive-In in Spartanburg SC is one of those great old family places, so entrenched in its community and so interwoven into the lives of the generations of folks that have been going there, it has become an institution, almost a historical landmark, a Mecca to the culinary indulgences of the masses.

Good food at a good price, and a-plenty of it.

There is no real direct connection between wrestling and the Beacon that I know of, except that countless wrestling fans no doubt had a burger or bar-b-que hash there before or after the weekly wrestling events at the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium over the many decades they were held there.

The Auditorium was built in 1951, and the Beacon first opened Thanksgiving Day 1946 (photo seen below), so it’s reasonable to expect and easy to believe that there are folks in the Spartanburg area in their 60s who might have spent almost four decades visiting both places every Saturday night.

Now that’s what I call livin’ right.

My father and mother, who were born and grew up in Spartanburg, spent lots of early evenings at the original Beacon location while dating in high school. Owner John White’s business was so good, he needed to expand beyond the confines of the small lot where the Beacon was originally located on West Main Street, so he moved his restaurant to the current location on the corner of Daniel Morgan Avenue and Reidville Road, now John B. White Boulevard, named for the man who started it all and ran the business himself for over 50 years.

I grew up in East Tennessee, but we visited my grandparents in Spartanburg regularly on holidays and other occasions. As a kid, I was always hopeful that those visits would include an excursion to the Beacon. Sadly, it wound up being only on a rare occasion that we did actually make it to the Beacon, but those visits, perhaps only a half dozen or so over my childhood and teen years, were very special times and wonderful memories for me.

The one personal wrestling connection I make with the Beacon came in the late 70s, I must have been about 17 years old and we were on one of those family visits to Spartanburg and I was delighted when my Dad told us he was taking us all to the Beacon for lunch. But there was one major hesitation on my part, excited as I was to be headed to the Beacon; we would be leaving just before one o’clock, and 1:00 PM was the time Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling came on channel 4 every Saturday. I never missed wrestling if I could help it, and momentarily thought of giving up the Beacon so that I didn’t miss the show. But that really wasn’t an option, my Dad wouldn’t have gone for that, and so I tried to focus my attention away from Bob Caudle and David Crockett and began looking forward to a huge cheeseburger-a-plenty.

We arrived at the Beacon, and I’m awfully anxious because I have this internal mechanism that used to make me miserable if wrestling was on and I wasn’t able to watch it. We parked and walked into the side entrance. And there it was: in the first dining area adjacent to where J.C. calls out your order to the cooks and order-preparers in the Beacon, a 17” black and white RCA television mounted to the wall, and on the screen was Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. It was a tag team match, and I don’t remember all the participants, but Dick Murdoch was in the ring with “Crusher” Jerry Blackwell when my eyes first saw that television set.

Boy, did that ever make my day! Lunch at the Beacon and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling; could it get much better than that?

Needless to say, I chose where we sat. Even though the sound was turned down, I still got to enjoy a little wrestling as well as a great burger buried under lot of fries and rings. And I really couldn't tell you which I enjoyed more.

* * * * *

The Beacon features great burgers and BBQ, but the best way to order it is in the style of something the Beacon calls “a-plenty”. Cheeseburger-a-plenty, Pork-a-plenty, Ham-and-cheese-a-plenty. That designation means that your sandwich comes smothered in a huge pile of fries and onion rings. And when I say smothered, I mean heaped up and piled high, almost completely covering your sandwich. You just sort of trust the right thing is under that mess!

If burgers or BBQ aren’t what you’re looking for, they also serve a little bit of almost everything else, including fried chicken, sliced turkey, country ham, fried fish, hamburger steak - -you name it, the Beacon will serve it to you fresh, hot, and a-plenty!

Your first trip to the Beacon can be a bit intimidating, because there is a system. When you walk in, there are stacks of menus printed on paper (that make great souvenirs as well as a good source of information for preparation) to review while you are in line, but when you get to J.C., be ready to “call it.”


J.C at the ready. Caaaawl it!

(Flickr Photo by The Travlin' Man)


J.C. Strobel has worked at the Beacon for over 50 years. He is a Spartanburg legend. When it’s time to place your order, he’ll say “Caaawl it!” and then he shouts your order to the back. You move down the line and suddenly moments later, your order appears before you. It’s amazing! And make sure not to just stand there in stunned amazement at what’s going on around you; you’ll be told to “keep walkin’” – they have to keep that line moving at the Beacon. They call it “Talk and Walk.”

Hear J.C. call out an order at the Beacon:

12 second audio clip from the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives feature on the Beacon (seen below.)

Transcript: "I need a hash a-plenty! That's a barbeque hash sandwich surrounded by french fried potatoes and union rings. Uh, ca-a-a-a-a-all it!"


The Beacon is also famous for their very sweet iced-tea.

Open at 6:30 AM six days a week, 52 weeks a year. Closed Sundays. When anywhere near Spartanburg, SC, don’t miss the Beacon Drive-In.






Facebook Image sent to us from Peggy Lathan



© 2010 Mid-Atlantic Gateway • Story published 1/15/10, updated 10/29/12, 6/15/13.