Skyway’s burgers have been made the same way since 1952

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Third-generation Skyway Drive-In Restaurant owner Steve Large (center) is pictured here with two of his sons, Jason (right) and Brady (left). While he keeps things moving inside the vintage brick building, they’re running orders out to cars. (Photography by Benjamin Margalit/Margalit Studios)

By Beth Newcomb

Walking up the steps from Steve Large’s basement office, it hits me like the summer heat. The hypnotic smell of frying onion rings instantly makes my mouth water and stomach start to growl. I ask Steve if the culinary perfume affects him the same way it does me and he just smiles and shakes his head, no. 

“I don’t even really notice it anymore,” he says.

I get it. I mean, after more than 32 years at the helm of the family-owned Skyway Drive-In Restaurant in Fairlawn, you’re bound to become immune to temptation.

I, however, am not—and neither are the 20 or so people in the parking lot waiting eagerly for their taste of the good stuff.

“We’re kind of known for our onion rings,” Steve smiles modestly, motioning to Wilma Hill, who’s been making the restaurant’s signature rings for more than 45 years by hand alongside Diane Guedras. She’s been making them for over 35.” 

Now this might seem like a lot of chatter over a vegetable, but it’s the way these jumbo bulbs are prepared that makes them a customer fave. Two layers of coating, one battered and one crumbed, envelope each ring in tasty goodness before they hit the fryer. Batch after batch is made fresh to order then delivered to your car so hot, you might need to take a few bites of your signature Skyway burger before digging in. 

And that’s another staple that hasn’t changed since Steve’s grandfather opened the car-hop-style eatery in 1952. The burgers are made from locally raised beef. The not-so-secret recipe, depending on how long you’ve been a Skyway devotee, gives them their signature flavor. 


“Our burgers are a true quarter pound of beef,” he reveals. “And our buns are made just for us by a local bakery. They’re a little sweeter and really enhance the flavor of the burger.”

Steve says most days the parking lot is full when Skyway opens for business at 11 a.m. but admits that people new to his vintage concept may be thrown for a loop when they drive past the unassuming brick building.

“All you do is pull in and choose a parking spot,” he explains. 

“Face your headlights to the building, then turn them on to indicate you need service. One of our car-hops will come out and bring you a menu. When you’re ready to order, you turn your lights back on, then do the same when you’re ready to leave.” 


If you don’t have time to experience the nostalgia in its entirety, you can phone your order in and it’ll be ready for you when you get there. You can also go inside and order from the counter.

Steve says the Sky Hi has been and still is the most popular burger on the menu since his family opened Skyway. It’s a double-decker burger that includes Sky-Hi sauce. 

Another guest favorite is Aunt Ruth’s Onion Ring Burger, which features, you guessed it, those delicious rings. There are about 25 different burger combinations to choose from, along with hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, salads and more. 

If you’re determined to keep it real, then your burger must be accompanied by the California, which is ginger ale and grape syrup mixed together. Or you can add the creamy deliciousness of a milkshake (available in 20 different flavors) to your order. 

Steve says they even have a meal for the kids that comes with a toy. 

Skyway Drive-In Restaurant is located at 2781 W. Market Street in Fairlawn. Hours are Sunday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. The phone number is 330-836-2806. Find them online at SkywayRestaurants.net. A second location is in Green.