A Trip Back in Time: The Fence Drive-In features old-fashioned carhop service
Take a trip down memory lane to experience dining at a classic 1950s-style drive-in, where generations of locals and visitors alike have enjoyed a day or an evening along the Susquehanna River.
The Fence Drive-In in Milton is an area institution famous for its haddock fish sandwich. The restaurant site has survived several floods and has a long history dating to the 1930s, when it was called The Breezy Tent.
Located on Pennsylvania’s Route 405, The Fence takes visitors back in time with old-fashioned carhop service. Park your car and turn on your headlights to alert the carhop to come over to take your order. Enjoy your meal in your car, or sit riverside at one of the picnic tables under the shade of trees.
The Fence is a cash-only restaurant open Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., from mid-April through mid-October. Hundreds of people crowd to The Fence Drive-In for the first day of the season, many who have been coming for years.
The crowd favorite is the lightly breaded fish sandwich that sells for $3.95, or order the fish basket, which includes fresh-cut fries, for $5.65. Other menu items include fried chicken, hot ham barbecue, quarter-pound burgers, and a seafood combo, which comes with fish, shrimp, and scallops. The tartar sauce and cabbage salad are homemade, using the same recipes that founders Bob and Elva Reitz used when they first opened The Fence at the site in 1951.
Robert and Debra Rabb bought the restaurant from the Reitz family after the flood of 1975, and ran the business until 2011, when their son Matt, and his wife, Trisha, took over operations.
“I started working here a lot when I was 12 and only briefly was away in the late 1990s,” explains Matt Rabb. “I have a brother and sister who also worked for the business when they were growing up.”
The menu might be simple, but everything is made from scratch daily.
“We take pride in our products and that’s one thing that will never change. I took my dad to Iceland a few years ago, up to tour a few fish plants. Last October, I traveled back up to meet with a fish plant in northwest Iceland and put on a demonstration for the plant owners and staff on how we cut their product,” Matt says.
With the help of his dedicated staff, Matt cuts haddock every morning for the day’s use, lightly breading it for frying. The staff at The Fence also peels and deveins shrimp daily and sources scallops from Nova Scotia.
“We typically have up to 70 employees in a season and they have always been the best group of people, because when they join the team, they become part of our family,” Matt says.
For more information on The Fence Drive-In, call (570) 524-2865, or visit their Facebook page. To view the menu, visit fencedrivein.com.
Vilma Shu is an editorial consultant for Town&Gown.