Snow White still awaits fate

The Lebanon iconic Snow White Drive-In is still waiting to find out more about its future as the property on which the restaurant sits may soon be sold.
Mar 11, 2014

The Lebanon iconic Snow White Drive-In is still waiting to find out more about its future as the property on which the restaurant sits may soon be sold.

Snow White owner Billy Wyatt said the restaurant is going month to month right now, as its lease was up in February. The possibility remains the current building could be torn down and replaced by a new business.

"[The proposed new business] goes before the Planning Commission sometime this month," Wyatt said. "We should know something more definite around the middle of the month."

Wyatt has owned the Snow White for about four years now, but it’s been in his family – on and off – for about 23 years. He said Jimmy Reed owned it when Wyatt’s mother, Ann Birdwell, was manager there, and his sister was a waitress. Birdwell, who died recently, bought the business and had it for about 12 years before selling it to someone from Mt. Juliet, who then sold it to a Lebanon man a year later.

A year after that, it closed for about two years before Birdwell bought it back, and eventually Wyatt bought it from her.

Greg Dugdale, who owns the property, said the potential buyers are "still in their due diligence period. It's still not a done deal."

According to Dugdale, the current building is "nearing its end regardless of whether this deal goes through or not. It’s like getting a 1952 automobile out of the garage and driving a route from here to Knoxville every day. It eventually gets tough to do."

If the deal does happen, Wyatt said they are prepared to build a new building to keep the restaurant going.

"If it does go through, we'll build out back. That's the plan right now. It'll be the same thing – same food, same people. The only thing that will change is the building."

Dugdale said he is a supporter of Snow White and is a loyal patron. He and Wyatt are also friends.

“Buildings only have a certain amount of life regardless of how well liked they are,” Dugdale said. “You have to ask the question of whether you like the building or the business more. If you ask me, I like the business."

Wyatt remains optimistic at the moment, despite the level of stress.

"They might not want the property. You can never tell," he said.

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