A diner where food lovers become family
It’s country-style food that sticks to the ribs and warms the heart, served at a diner where strangers become friends. Inside the Country Corner Drive In’s small weathered building are customers who bond over tasty food and leave nothing on their plates and a glass pie case filled with no wrong choices. Some make it a special occasion to visit and others make it their regular breakfast or lunch stop. No matter the reason, owner Shelly Seymour and her family of diner worker-bees will be sure to give a special greeting to whoever walks through their door.
The Seymours of Country Corner Drive In
Cooking in the restaurant industry has been in the Seymour bloodline for generations. Raised in a large family with a deep passion for cooking, Shelly Seymour was able to develop her culinary skills by observing those around her.
Carolyn Deno, Shelly’s aunt, previously owned Guma’s restaurant and catering in West Chazy. Sherry Parrotte, another of Shelly’s aunts, owned Jingle’s in Dannemora. Shelly bought the diner from Fred Brean, her uncle, who had owned it for several years prior. When Brean was the owner, it was a small country store on the corner of Fiske Road in West Chazy. What is now the dining room used to be full of aged arcade games. At the front of the building was a bar and only a few tables. It was, and still is, a building filled with individuality and character. Shelly’s original layout of the diner would require customers to walk through her kitchen to get to their table.
“It was the character of the place. People love that they got to come into the kitchen and visit and see what’s going on. I was able to stand right there and cook and be with my customers,” says Shelly.
Not only was it up to Shelly to turn the tiny general store into the grub-hub it is today, but also to pass along her passion for the business to future generations.
Shelly is surrounded by family at Country Corner Drive In, whether they work behind the counter or sit at it. About a year ago, right before the COVID-19 pandemic, Josh Seymour came aboard leaving his job as a custom chandelier maker to lend his mother a hand. Shelly’s daughter, Janell, who the regulars call “Nelly,” can be found seated at the back table chatting up unfamiliar customers or scribbling in her coloring book. But at Country Corner, you don’t have to be related to the Seymours to be treated like family.
The Seymours have found every way to interact with the community inside their restaurant. When a first time customer walks through the door, one of the Seymours will ring a cowbell to celebrate their introductory visit. The family all wear shirts that say, “You know where it is, get it yourself.” The Seymours have been, “raising hell,” says Josh, for a while, and with it they’re also raising and growing their extensive family.
“I just get enjoyment from seeing people enjoy a good meal and feeding people,” Shelly says. For the past 32 years people have enjoyed the food her family’s been serving.
“I don’t plan a menu for the week, I just wake up and say, ‘This is what I’m doing today. This is what I’m doing tomorrow.’ It’s great, and it kind of just falls into place,” Shelly says. But what the people come for are the specials, Shelly claims.
Some of Seymour’s specials are a Kentucky Fried Chicken and mashed potato bowl and their mountain-sized serving of spaghetti and meatballs. They even serve a hearty meatloaf wrapped in crispy bacon. It epitomizes comfort food. One of the specialties Shelly stands by is their homemade soups.
“People love the soup… 90% of places you don’t get homemade soups, you get them out of a box or out of a can…. We make the soup,” Shelly says. The Seymours are serving up piping hot bowls of split pea, hamburger and macaroni or their “refrigerator” soup—filled with the leftovers of the day so no food goes to waste.
Josh’s daughter, Taylor, works in the restaurant as well. She fills in the blanks of the specials menu with her ideas and concoctions such as serving Chinese food during the pandemic. She designed her own “rodeo” wrap, filled with golden brown onion rings, fresh lettuce, juicy tomatoes, a smokey BBQ sauce and grilled chicken.
All of their fresh produce comes from Pray’s Farmers Market and all their meats from Glazier’s in Malone, NY. The Seymours put local products into all of their neighborhood classics. Sharon Watkins, one of the diner’s regulars, recommends “The Mikey,” a sandwich of ham, crispy bacon, sausage and customers’ choice of gooey cheese in between two pieces of grilled Texas toast. The fresh, never frozen hamburger is what Shelly claims built her business. She uses it to craft their signature “Country Corner burger” which is topped with the works— melted cheese, garden-fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and onion, that same crispy bacon and a slather of mayonnaise.
As Sharon Watkins will tell anyone, “if you want to eat a little piece of the country come visit us.”
Story and photos by Drew Wemple