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Former Big Ray’s Drive In owner treated employees like family

Published: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:37 p.m. CDT

DeKALB – Christel Springmire remembers Big Ray's Drive In's owners used to hide $1 bills under the cash register to encourage employees to clean there.

"They were freaks about keeping that place clean," said Springmire, who started working there in 1973 at age 14. "It was incredible how clean that place was. We washed the windows every shift."

Now the solid waste coordinator at DeKalb County Health Department, Springmire was a carhop at the drive-in that used to sit at 1420 E. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb for about three years. She holds fond memories of the drive-in Dorothy "Dot" Majcina owned for more than 30 years with her husband, Ray.

Dot Majcina, 87, died Friday at Pine Acres Rehab & Living Center in DeKalb. The visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. today, with her funeral starting at 7 p.m.; both will be at Anderson Funeral Home, 2011 S. Fourth St., DeKalb.

The couple moved the restaurant to Lincoln Highway so they could live right next door to where they worked, Springmire said. Big Ray's sold root beers, pork sandwiches and had a catfish special every Friday, she said.

The business typically opened each April and closed on Columbus Day weekend, Springmire said.

Springmire described Dot Majcina as a quiet person who handled the money in the restaurant while her husband cooked. Business decreased with the popularity of air conditioning, Springmire said, ultimately leading to Big Ray's being demolished in 2013.

Since the couple had no children of their own, they treated employees like family, Springmire said. Springmire remembered one instance where a customer made an inappropriate remark at her. Ray Majcina grabbed the man by the shirt and warned him not to treat his employees poorly, Springmire said.

"We always knew they loved us and took really good care of us," Springmire said.

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