Willie Champlin, the current owner, started out as a soda jerk at the business in 1971 when he was just a teenager. Willie put in 10 years with the company before becoming a co-owner with Jack Crabtree in 1981.
21 years later Mr Champlin became the sole owner.
My family has a long history with the Root Beer Stand. My parents were eating there when they were teenagers in the 1960s. I broke bread there for the first time when I was just a schoolkid back in the 70s.It was always a big treat to get to go to the old drive-in and drink homemade draft rootbeer from a heavy frosted glass. And of course their chili buns got plenty of my family’s attention.
The chili at the drive-in is one of my favorites on the Eastern Kentucky Chili Bun Trail . Its heat level is best described as mild, the beef is lightly sweet and of a fine grain. Served on a soft white hotdog bun, it’s normally garnished with ballpark-style mustard and chopped, cold white onions.
I try not to eat freezer bag french fries but I’m helpless at Champlin’s restaurant as these are the extra long and fancy style that only the classiest joints use.
The Root Beer Stand is the last remaining restaurant from the 1950s chili bun scene in Corbin. 60 years ago you had the Fad Pool Hall, The Lunch Queen, and The Dixie all running strong in the nearby downtown. They’re all closed although a new outfit has opened up and is using the Dixie name to little effect.Change comes slowly in Corbin.
In 1980 The Root Beer Stand put a chicken patty on the menu. That was the last time a new item has been added to the board. This slow pace surely suits owner Champlin who’s logged nearly 50 years at the business.
The old days of hitting up the bootleggers on dirt roads outside Corbin are long gone. The town’s been wet for a solid coon’s age. The preachers are still spoiling to fire up a feud with somebody and the boozers would sure oblige if they could get their heads out of the whiskey bottles they buy down the street at Liquor King.And the Root Beer Stand is still doing land-office business in the shadow of Corbin High School just like they have for decades.
129 18th St
Hours of operation
always call ahead
note: The business is open from Spring til Fall