The First Fat Boy



The first Fat Boy Drive-In opened on the corner of 601 1st St. in 1954.
 Later it became a Dwight’s restaurant. Today the site is a vacant lot.

David Smith | Submitted


In 1954, Dwight Messinger opened the first in what would
 grow to become a small chain of drive-in restaurants.

Messinger, a West Hamlin native who served in World War II,
 built his first restaurant on the corner of Huntington’s
1st Street and 6th Avenue. He named his new Adkins
Fat Boy Drive-In for his father, Benny Adkins.

The drive-in’s burgers and fries became so popular that Messinger soon
 expanded to other locations. At its peak, the growing Fat Boy chain
had four Huntington locations — on 1st Street, at 1557 Washington
Blvd., 601 20th St. and 2041 5th Ave. along with two locations
 in Parkersburg and two in Chesapeake, Ohio.

Then Messinger had another idea. In 1963, he opened his
Dwight’s Drive-In on the corner of 8th Street and 9th
Avenue. In addition to the typical rive-in fare,
Dwight’s offered steak dinners, spaghetti
and hearty breakfasts that were
vailable all day.

Over the years, the 8th Street restaurant’s loyal customers
virtually turned it into a neighborhood icon. Before long
the sign at the 1st Street Fat Boy came down and was
 replaced by a Dwight’s sign. One by one, the
 other Fat Boy locations were closed.

In 1995, the Dwight’s on 8th Street closed and was
 demolished to make way for construction of a new
 bank. “It was a matter of economics,” Messinger
said. ”Somebody wanted the property
more than we did.”

Then, in 2003, the Messinger family reluctantly decided
 to shut down the old restaurant on 1st Street rather
than renovate it. The building was quickly
demolished. Today, 20 years later,
the site remains a vacant lot.


Note:  This Article and picture appeared in the Herald-Dispatch Newspaper on July 11, 2023.


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