ANDERSON — Slipping a quarter into an antique jukebox, Bill Pitts punched two buttons and watched a mechanical arm selected a 45-rpm record.
Within a few seconds, the rich and achy sound of George Jones flooded the room with a ballad of unrequited love.
The song caused the diners inside the Lemon Drop, 1701 Mounds Road, to pause briefly and their faces softened into an almost dreamy, faraway look as they listened to the music released more than 30 years ago.
“It’s nostalgia,” he said, referring the reaction of his customers. “We want them to have that little feeling that reminds them of when they were kids.”
Pitts said memories are what make his business so successful.
This year, the 1950s diner is celebrating 60 years of business, and while upgrades have been made, Pitts said he strives to make the interior of the restaurant appear untouched.
Pitts, 67, has not owned the Lemon Drop for the entire 60 years it has been in business, but the diner has been serving area residents that long. When Pitts was 25 years old, he bought the restaurant and in April will celebrate 42 years of ownership.
During those 42 years, Pitts has placed a basket of candied lemon drops in front of the diner’s register and kept it full – giving away about 30,240 pounds of the candy to his customers.
But it is not the lemon drops that keep customers coming back. It is the food.
One of the menu items the restaurant is well-known for is its onionburgers, which were named the best burger in Indiana in 1996.
“Not the No. 1 onionburger, the No. 1 burger,” Pitts said. “Do you know how many burgers there are in Indiana?”
The Lemon Drop’s breaded tenderloin is also on the Indiana Foodways Alliance “Tenderloin Trail.”
But if you are going to stop in and try the food here, don’t forget to try the onion rings.