An Icon Comes Down In Warsaw

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
1966 was a year to remember. “Star Trek,” and “Batman,” made their television debuts, the mini skirt became a favorite with young ladies, Lyndon B. Johnson was president, and young men and women wore patterned pants and flowered shirts. Popular films included “Thunderball,” “Dr. Zhivago,” and “The Sound of Music.” It was also the year that Paul Shinn noticed the need for an ice cream shop in Warsaw and built the Dari-Kup, which was an icon in Warsaw for close to half a century. Larry Jones, owner of Precision Towing, next door to the diner, bought the property from a bank in 2013 and plans to demolish the building in the middle of May. He will plans to build a tow truck garage in its place.
The Dari-Kup is memorable to many local and out-of-town people. It was a popular place to get lunch or dinner, and a gathering place for young people to work and meet up with friends. Its architectural style was definitely a mid-century trend, and it stood out at 932 Main Street where it was surrounded by mostly box-shaped buildings.
Paul Shinn named his ice cream shop the Dari-Kup because ice cream was a dairy product, and it was served in a cup. His featured menu items were tenderloin sandwiches, hamburgers, drinks and of course ice cream. Shinn sold his shop to Paul and JoDee Estes about a year after he opened for business and afterwards there were a lot of owners and operators. Joe Dale and Roberta Hedrick operated the shop beginning in 1970 for about two years. 
 “I was working at Fajen Gunstocks, and would run over to the Dari-Kup at lunch time to help out, and then returned there from my regular job in the evenings,” said Joe Dale Hedrick. “Roberta would run the business during the day. It was a seven-day operation with Sunday being the busiest time. Our menu consisted of a double hamburger (like a McDonalds Big Mac), tenderloin, fries, onion rings, and ice cream -- the biggest item on the menu. We used several gallons of Foremost ice cream mix a week.”
Hedrick said that Paul Estes took over the business again at the end of 1971, because the long hours became too much for the Hedricks since their three daughters were becoming more involved in school activities.
“We loved the Dari-Kup business and missed it when we left,” said Hedrick. “Our daughters helped out in the shop, and we enjoyed seeing people who came in on a regular basis.”
Vicki Whitaker, who recently retired from her secretarial position at North School, remembers being 14 or 15 when she worked at the Dari-Kup while it was operated by the Hedricks. 
“I started out making about 75 cents an hour and eventually worked my way up to 95 cents an hour, said Whitaker. “I was able to open my first checking account while working there, and could write a check for about $1.30 when I needed to. A juke box was installed while I worked there and workers were allowed to put fingernail polish on quarters that we used to play songs. When the money was emptied out our quarters were returned to us, identified by the nail polish, and we could use them again when we wanted to play songs. It was fun working there because all of my friends hung out there.”
A check with the Benton County Assessor’s office turned up a list of owners of the Dari-Kup/Double D Diner from the present back to 1983. Nellie Mahan bought the business in 1983 from her sister and her sister’s husband, Mac and Evelyn Wright, but information on ownership in the middle and late 1970s is a gray area. Nellie Mahan sold the business to Randy and Kathy Mahan in 1990.  Evelyn Wright bought it again in early 1994, but Ted and Teresa Gatliff bought it later in 1994. Randy Mahan also took over the business again in 1995, and sold it to John & Sandra Eierman in 1996. Daniel and Diane Coyle bought it in 2005 and apparently changed the name from The Dari-Kup to Double D Diner. 
Kathy Arnett probably spent more time at the Dari-Kup than anyone else. She began working there when she was 13 and spent a total of 20 years at the shop. She married Nellie Mahan’s son while Nellie was owner, and extended her career when she joined the family business.
“It was my first job and I made 75 cents an hour,” said Arnett. “I was thrilled when I got a $30 paycheck. The menu specialty was the Big Boy, with a special sauce, as well as ice cream and other traditional items. The business had a lot of customers from the sale bond auction company across the street. Nellie owned The Dari-Kup when McDonalds came to town (circa late 1980s, early 1990s.) She was afraid that it would take away some of her business. It did hurt it a little, but it survived. People would come in from Kansas City looking for something different than the McDonalds they were used to.”
Many people remember eating at the shop. 
“We used to go to the Dari-Kup with the children,” said Pat Blackwell.
“I ate ice cream there when I was a teenager,” said Betty Howard.
“I always ate the daily specials,” said Linda Sinnett.
“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t remember The Dari-Kup,” said Linda Gregory.