A local husband and wife have teamed up to open a restaurant in Camas.
K & M Drive-In, named after its owners Kevin and Melinda Bruzzone, is located in the building previously occupied by The Old Fashion Maid Restaurant.
“We feature fresh ground beef hamburgers charbroiled to order, hand-cut french fries and hand-scooped ice cream shakes,” Kevin said. “We also offer charbroiled chicken breast sandwiches and hot dogs.”
Other menu items include Chicago dogs, onion rings, chili, tater tots and garlic fries. Food is served in the dining room and the drive-thru.
The Bruzzones are leasing the building.
Kevin said the “Drive-In” portion of the name pays homage to the location, which started as a drive-in in 1951 and operated as a restaurant continuously through March of 2011.
“The heritage of this building also supports our decision to feature a classic brand like RC Cola as our soda,” he said. “We love the taste of RC and appreciate that it is made with pure cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.
“We cook all our food fresh and cook it to order,” Kevin added. “The ground beef is fresh, never frozen, and the fries we hand cut from fresh potatoes.”
K & M Drive-In opened Feb. 11, and the Bruzzones have been pleasantly surprised by the number of customers supporting their new business.
They originally hired eight employees, but that number increased to 13 to meet the demand.
“It has been a challenge for us to provide the service levels that our customers deserve due to the extreme sales volume, but I have hired a good team and we have continued to hire more this week,” Kevin said Friday. “We are training them to get them up to speed. The quality and quantity of job applicants was impressive, and I believe that our team members will continue to improve once we get them more time in position.”
He said it is important to work with local vendors, to purchase signs, meat, produce, dry goods, T-shirts and counter tops for the restaurant.
Kevin first became fascinated with cooking in Minnesota while helping his parents and grandfather prepare family recipes of Northern Italian dishes.
He has more than 30 years of experience working in the restaurant business, with his career starting as a teenager working at a Hardee’s restaurant.
Four years later, Kevin relocated to California and worked for Carl Karcher Enterprises.
“I was fortunate enough to work at Carl’s Jr. throughout the 80’s and early 90’s, back when Carl — founder of Carl’s Jr. — and his brother Don Karcher, were still actively leading that company,” he said. “I learned a great deal about the business and creating a family culture during those years.”
It was also while working at Carl’s Jr. that he met Melinda.
In 1988 and 1989, Kevin was the recipient of the company’s President’s Award for Operating Excellence. In 1992, he was recognized as District Manager of the Year.
Two years later, Kevin accepted the position of managing partner for the new Boston Chicken franchise, BC Goldengate. He led the opening of 23 restaurants before he became a vice president of operations for Boston Chicken Inc., in 1997.
That same year, he moved to Camas, when he was responsible for the operations of 96 restaurants in six states.
In 1999, Kevin was involved in the operations of a start-up Ole Mole Southwestern Grill. The following year, he joined KremeWorks. Kevin led the openings of Krispy Kreme locations in Issaquah, Wash., and Clackamas, Ore.
The Bruzzones lived in Camas for 14 years.
“We have since relocated to rural Washougal where we enjoy a bit more elbow room,” Kevin said.
K & M Drive-In, 3414 N.E. Third Ave., is open daily, from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call 210-5803.