Musillami’s now sole survivor of old-time drive-ins

No one has more in common with Becker’s Drive-In owner Bill Becker than Mike Musillami. 

Parents of the two men opened two of Columbus’ oldest restaurants during an era when drive-ins were in their prime.  

Musillami’s Drive In, 855 Jonesville Road, is almost as rich in history as Becker’s, opening under the family name since April 1, 1957.

And due to almost 60 years of common interests, including a love for nostalgia, the Garden City restaurant owner said he’s saddened by the closing of the iconic root beer stand at 25th and Union streets in Columbus.

“The Becker family are very hardworking people and extremely generous,” said Musillami, who has managed his restaurant since 1983. “It’s great to see a family that gives back to their community.” 

Musillami said he was especially impressed by the life of founder William L. Becker, who served his country diligently during World War II and later became an American success story.

“I admired him,” Musillami said. “What an interesting man.” 

But he also recalls a situation involving a common distributor.

Bill Becker had the upper hand in a business situation, but chose not to take advantage of it.   

“He was more than helpful about allowing us to get our product, and I really appreciate that,” Musillami said.

From his perspective, the three miles between the two drive-ins kept them from being direct competitors, he said.

While Musillami’s Drive In has been open since the first week of March, the owner said he has not experienced a rush of former Becker’s customers.

“But they are more than welcome to come,” he said.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.