Tucked inside a 1930s gas station, Cammack Station outside Muncie, IN is the quintessential 50s-style diner destination… (Cover photo via Facebook)
If you were looking for a blueprint for turning a cherished, but defunct local treasure into a successful retro-themed diner, look no further than Cammack Station just outside Muncie, Indiana. A favorite of locals for a few years now, the word is getting out and folks from all over the midwest are finding their way to one of Indiana’s most unique diners.
My favorite part: it’s just a few miles from where I grew up.
Memories of Pete’s
As a small band of mischievous teenagers, hot summers on the sleepy suburban streets of Yorktown, Indiana were often spent looking for adventure.
Aside from sneaking through a hole in a fence to toilet paper or water balloon girls’ houses in a nearby neighborhood, our second favorite adventure was a bicycle ride to Pete’s Grocery in Cammack.
(Image via Cammack Station)
Nearly 20 years later, I can still remember the old “Cammack Station,” or, as it was called then, “Pete’s Grocery.” The rusty old gas pumps. The old-timers sitting inside talking Purdue and IU basketball with owner Pete. It felt like a time capsule from a time long ago where the service station owner knew your name and you knew his.
On days when we were flush with cash, we’d sit and have one of Pete’s bologna sandwiches, but most days, we simply filled sacks with his penny candy. Our only limit was how much we could tote on our bicycles without wrecking on the railroad tracks on the way home. Trips to Pete’s remain a highlight of my childhood. And like so many cherished places of our childhoods, one day Pete’s closed its doors.
I moved away for college and assumed the passage of time would one day claim this little historic landmark of my youth.
Thank God I was wrong.
Cammack Station opens its doors
We’re not sure what reactions owner owner Dick Howe first received from friends and family when he decided to turn this defunct 1931 filling station into a restaurant, but we’re guessing more than one person was skeptical. After all, restaurants are a tough business. (Photo via facebook)
Howe, however, had a dream to turn the little bump in the road known as Cammack into a place folks could escape the chain-restaurant game of nearby Muncie’s McGalliard Rd. and have a nostalgic, family-friendly experience.
In 2007, his dream became a reality and was so popular Cammack Station expanded in 2009 and again here recently.
Since then, it’s become not only a hub for locals but a destination for out-of-towners in search of a friendly blast-from-the-past. During the summer months, it’s not uncommon to stumble into a meet-up of dozens of classic cars and hot rods. During the fall and winter, it's a picture-perfect photo spot for holiday pictures.
A trip to Cammack Station
My first trip to Cammack Station finally happened this past Father’s Day when my father and I attended a car show there. (A frequent summer occurence) It was my first time stopping in Cammack since before I left for college in 2004.
The outside of Cammack Station is about as photogenic as you’ll find, and the inside is packed to the rim with memorabilia, old oil cans, and other fun trinkets from decades gone by.
Their menu is bursting with all the norms you’d expect at a classic diner… Milkshakes, ice cream, sandwiches, and tasty burgers.
(Photo via Facebook)
For me, the decision was easy… When home in Indiana, a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich is a must-eat. It was a good size, cooked just right, and a reminder no one does pork tenderloin sandwiches better than Indiana. Period. (Sorry, Iowa and Illinois, but this one belongs to the Hoosiers)
As I walked the dozens of vintage cars and hot rods gathered and enjoyed a delicious meal with my dad and his friends on Father's Day, I couldn’t help but mumble to myself: “Old Pete would be proud.”
Whether you’re looking for a day trip in your old car or just looking for something out of the ordinary, there’s no better lunch or dinner destination than Cammack Station.
9200 W Jackson St Muncie, IN 47304 (765) 759-3871
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