RADFORD, Va. – During any other lunch hour, the parking lot of Hank’s Drive-In in Radford would be packed with hungry customers. But on Monday, there were holes in their stomachs and in their hearts.
Hanford “Hank” Kesterson, the owner, died unexpectedly Saturday at the age of 91. He opened the restaurant in 1972.
“It’s been a good place, and he made it a good place,” said customer Ronald Combs.
“Hank’s been a major staple in all of our lives,” said Shenna Viers, Hank’s niece and the current owner. “Patriarch for our family for sure, and he’s like a father to me now.”
Best known for “Hank’s Burger,” on the surface it appears to be an ordinary patty topped with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise.
But Viers says Hank was anything but ordinary.
“He was always carrying on with everybody, joking especially with the little kids. He loved kids. He was always a character.”
Her uncle worked there into his late 80s, and he rarely took a day off.
“Hank had such a work ethic that he didn’t close for much,” Viers said.
Viers plans on reopening Thursday -- one day after her uncle’s funeral -- to carry on Hank’s legacy.