Johnnie's Drive-In gets new owner

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Johnnie’s Drive-In, Tupelo’s oldest restaurant, has a new owner and he’s a familiar face.
Familiar, because he used to own Johnnie’s.
Seven years ago, Don Knight sold the eatery on East Main Street and wished he hadn’t.
“I got burned out,” Knight said. “But about two weeks after I sold it, I was ready to buy it back.”
The famous eatery where Elvis used to enjoy cheeseburgers and RC Cola is Knight’s once more, as of 6 a.m. today.
For 22 years, Knight owned Johnnie’s, having bought the restaurant from the original owners, Johnnie and Margaret Chism.
They opened the restaurant on Oct. 17, 1945.
Knight, who also owns Knight’s Restaurant in Saltillo, said the Chisms gave him valuable advice when he bought Johnnie’s the first time.
“When I bought it, they said ‘if something ain’t broke, don’t fix it,'” he said.
And for 22 years, Johnnie’s pretty much stayed the same. Hundreds of customers chow down daily on doughburgers, hamburger steak and barbecue, enjoying the food and soaking in the atmosphere.
After selling the restaurant, Knight realized how much he missed it all.
“I never thought I’d be able to buy it back and had given up on it,” Knight said.
Now that he’s back in charge, Knight said he plans to make a few minor changes.
“A few things were changed, and I’m going to change them back to the way I think they should be,” he said. “I hope I don’t upset or lose any of our customers in the process, but Johnnie’s is going back to the way it was.”
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.