CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Amanda Rodarte, an employee at Twin Cronnie Drive-In, preps tater tots for the afternoon. The drive-in is now under operation of Walter Bradley’s family, following the purchase from Clint Harden. The restaurant was opened in 1952.
Clint Harden learned about making food, making a dollar and the importance of family at a little drive-in restaurant. He even learned directions.
West of the Twin Cronnie Drive-In is Commerce Street, and Prince Street is visible through its windows to the north.
“Anytime you want to figure out where you are,” Harden said, “just put yourself in the drive-in.”
But now, Harden is putting himself out. It’s been sold to longtime friend Walter Bradley, whose family took over operations on Monday.
“I’m 64. My wife is too,” Harden said. “You get to quit at about that age. It’s a retirement decision, along with wanting to perpetuate a family business that’s been operating in Clovis since 1952.”
With a building hauled in from Plainview, Texas, T.A. and R.A. Harden promised, “Good food, fast, friendly service and a fair price.” The original menu featured a twin cronnie sandwich, a split hot dog stuffed into a hamburger bun with various condiments. Side items available were potato chips, candy and bottled sodas.
As Clovis expanded, so did the offerings — Harden said he’d come down from school every day to pick up a ham sandwich, onion rings and a Coca-Cola for lunch.
The current menu includes breakfast, Mexican food, desserts and salads, and requires a double-sided 8.5-by-14-inch sheet — helping it compete with dozens of other restaurants that have joined Twin Cronnies in Clovis.
“When I moved home in 1978, we were the only place to eat from the Twin Cronnie to Tucumcari,” Harden said. “Even after all that time, we still get our share and we’ve still got our loyal customers, which we appreciate so much.
“We’ve raised lots of kids that have worked for us, and we’ve raised generations of customers. Now we see some of our customers coming in with great-grandchildren.”
Now, the family business moves on to what Harden considers to be extended family.
“All of us cousins grew up with Walter,” Harden said. “He’s always been considered part of our family. He was inside the drive-in when he was little and carhopped at one point.
“It’s not blood. But anybody who’s been in Clovis for a while knows Walter is like family.”
When Bradley was contacted about his purchase of a restaurant, he laughed and said, “You mean the historic restaurant?”
The purchase, Bradley said, had a simple justification. It was part of his past and his present, and he wanted it to be part of his future.
“I’ve been around Twin Cronnies nearly all my life,” Bradley said. “I grew up with Clint and Tommy. I carhopped and wasn’t really good at that, so they put me on the sodas.
“We all eat there, and so do a lot of people in the city of Clovis.”
Bradley said the restaurant will be managed by his son, Lance, and there will be a few changes. Most of the changes will be cosmetic, including more neon signage, and Bradley said the menu would remain the same with one exception.
“We’ll put it this way,” Bradley said. “When you order nachos, we’ll ask, ‘Do you want regular or upside down?’ I’ll leave it at that.”