Don't balk, drive right up
Maybe you've driven past that big fiberglass chicken at Apollo Superette so often you hardly notice it anymore.
Here's one thing owner Dave Olson hopes you'll see soon: People picking up some of his broasted chicken at the new drive-through window on the east side of his building.
"I have the sign ready to go up," he said. "I still have to put a little pole in so nobody hits my electrical box, and an alarm system so when people come in we'll know they're there, but it won't be long after that."
Olson realizes his store is no McDonalds, "but I think we can be like a Dairy Queen, where they pull up, order and we can get it for them."
That's not a new concept for the Superette, even without the new window.
"We have a few customers that like to call us from the parking lot," Olson said. "Whether it's because of their age or a disability, they can't get out of the car, so we run orders out to them quite often. This makes sense now."
He jokes he'll "probably to have to hire a young gal on roller skates to roll around the store and get orders ready. We're a bunch of older people around here right now.
"I thought about skipping the whole outdoor order panel," Olson said, instead posting a cellphone number for customers to call from the lane. "Realistically, we can hold about three cars out there, so I thought about doing a couple of different things."
He's considering an old-style gas station "ding-dong cord," ala full-service stations of years past.
"I certainly can't do it at my gas pumps, but I can do it at the chicken drive-up window, I think," Olson said.
"This kind of thing brings it full circle back to the old gas station," he said. "One of the best compliments I've ever had on my chicken was when I asked a guy how his dinner was. He told me, 'Not bad — for a gas station.'
"We've screwed up a lot of things," Olson laughed, "but this is one thing we do pretty well."
Light festival 2012
More than 2,000 people visited the inaugural Austin Festival of Lights, which wrapped up Dec. 31.
Organizer Kiersten Hall has already started the countdown for this year's event, set for Nov. 23-Dec. 30 at Jellystone Campground on Interstate 90 near Dexter.
This year’s event will continue to accept donations for local food shelves, as well as local humane societies and the Marines' Toys for Tots Foundation for a reduced admission price per vehicle.
Volunteers from non-profit groups who host an evening will also receive 10 percent of their evening’s admission sales. The main recipient of this year’s proceeds will be the Arc of Mower County .
Admission will be the same as last year at $15 per carload, $10 with donation.
The 2011 Austin Festival of Lights benefited five area food shelves and 20 non-profit groups.
Visitors came from 12 states and Finland, Hall said.