Donna Mason

Joe's Drive-In Chicken
85 Highway 1148
Isom, KY 41826

Donna Mason’s grandfather, Joe Peck, established Joe’s Drive-In Chicken in 1966, in Whitesburg, Kentucky. A few years later, Peck decided to move Joe’s Drive-In Chicken to its current location, in Isom, a few miles away from Whitesburg. Donna’s mother, Cora, started working at her father’s establishment when she was twelve years old. She worked there through high school.

Eventually, Cora Peck Sturgil and her husband, Donald, bought the restaurant from Cora’s father. Donna Mason’s earliest memories include Joe’s Drive-In Chicken. As a child, she grew up roller skating around the parking lot of her parent’s restaurant. Eventually, Cora and Donald decided to give up the restaurant business in order to spend more time with their daughter. Cora went back to school to become a nurse. Donald drove a coal truck. They sold the restaurant to Lucy Ayers, an employee who worked at Joe’s Drive-In Chicken. After she bought the business, Ayers ran it for thirty years.

Mason followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a registered nurse. After fifteen years working as a registered nurse, Mason had the opportunity to buy her grandfather’s business back from Lucy Ayers. Mason credits Ayers with the continued success of Joe’s Drive-In Chicken. Today, Mason proudly continues the Peck family legacy. She runs the business her grandfather started. Her mother still helps her from time to time in the kitchen. Together, they sell their famous fried chicken, hamburgers, hotdogs, and of course, chili buns.

Date of interview:

November 2, 2016

Interviewer:

Sara Wood

Photographer:

Sara Wood


This is where I spent my earliest childhood days. And I tear up talking about it. This place means a whole lot to me. So, I had to keep it going.

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