WALL — Word of the iconic Circus Drive-in on Route 35 going up for sale is hitting employees and customers hard and stirring feelings of nostalgia.

The Circus Drive-In in Wall Township
The Circus Drive-In in Wall Township (Bud McCormick)

Gabriella Curry, a teacher who has spent several summers working at the shore landmark of 62 years, started out as a carhop waitress and then eventually became an assistant manager and a manger.

A co-owner informed her last week that the Circus Drive-in was going on the market.

"I was in tears immediately because I have a lot of history at that place, really attached to it," said Curry.

Curry enjoyed putting on the classic carhop uniform every season.

"You looked forward to seeing the regulars that come in that you have gotten to know over the years. You look forward to the first opening day," Curry said. "It was more of a tradition than a job. It became part of my life."

The Circus Drive-In in Wall Township
The Circus Drive-In in Wall Township (BUd McCormick)

"Taken back and shocked," is how outgoing Wall Mayor and Township Committee member Ann Marie Conte described what it was like driving on Route 35 last week and seeing the for-sale sign. She even pulled over to look at the iconic neon clown outside the Circus Drive-in.

"People came down the shore to go to that restaurant. They looked for the tent going up, the flaps going up, which was a sign of spring," said Conte.

She recalled having friends who worked there and going there as a teen and getting "that absolute curbside service. You could eat in your car and it was wonderful," Conte said.

Monmouth County Freeholder Tom Arnone recalled the Circus Drive-in being a place "to go for a date" during his teen years and enjoyed the family atmosphere as an adult.

"Today, sometimes we don't see that as much, and we would hate to lose that feeling. I couldn't even imagine in June or July driving past there and that not being filled with people walking to the cars and waiting on people."

Arnone noted that a lot of people will probably be sad to see it go, pending the outcome of the sale.

"Stranger things have happened. Hopefully, somebody will buy that with the same feeling that all the people at the shore have that they would like to keep it."

"If somebody does purchase it, Monmouth County will promote it for them, because it's a big, big part of Monmouth County."

Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at Dianne.DeOliveira@townsquaremedia.com.

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