Tribune-Courier General Manager
AURORA – Belew’s has been a favorite among locals and lakes area visitors for the past 61 years. When the restaurant opened for the season last Friday there was a change few saw coming. New owners. Longtime owners Ron and Diana Underhill recently sold the drive-in-style restaurant to business partners Rick Leeper and David Norwood. Norwood and his wife Jessica, of the Olive community, will run the popular drive-in restaurant.
Ron and Diana Belew Underhill took over Belew’s after the death of Diana’s parents, Alonzo and Marbeth Belew. Together, with their children Jason and Kari, they have run the restaurant since 2004.
Belew’s has remained true to it’s humble roots over the past six decades, serving a car-hop style menu each year as both tourists and hungry patrons from all over the area flock to the Aurora site of what some call the home of the best hamburger and shake to be found.
In a recent interview for The Leisure Scene, also published by The Tribune Courier, Diana Underhill said her mother, Marbeth Jones started the restaurant in 1951 shortly after marrying Alonzo Belew. She saw the restaurant as a way to work from home and care for her daughter, while also contributing to the family income. Alonzo worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority while Marbeth sold frozen custard she made from scratch from a small building located at the junction of Hwy. 68 and 80.
Their second year in business, the Belew’s added burgers and fries to the menu. You could get a burger for 30 cents and an ice cream cone for a dime. Business was slow starting, but they stuck with it.
By 1958 business had picked up and they moved into a larger building. Belew continued to work at TVA during the day and Belew’s at night. Belew passed away in 1974 and Marbeth continued to operate the growing business for the next several years. In 1982, Belew’s moved 200 yards down the road to their present location.
Marbeth Belew died in April 2004 and her daughter Diana and husband Ron took over. Diana grew up working at Belew’s and Ron helped as manager since 1972.
The new owners say they don’t plan to change a thing. They are hoping to continue providing their customers with the same friendly service and tasty menu items that have kept customers coming back year after year for over 60 years.