Celebrating at the Dari Snak: Matriarch Maxine turns 90, eatery opens for 60th season


STONY RIDGE — There will be extra scoops of ice cream all around this week as the Pee Wee Dari Snak family celebrates a big birthday and a new season.

Four generations will gather Sunday to celebrate the 90th birthday of matriarch Maxine Haas, who has been with the eatery almost since its inception 60 years ago. The Dari Snak is preparing to open for its 60th year next week.

The business is a family affair.

Rusty Waters cooks the sauces and soups. His son, Trent, handles the books, inventory and management duties. Trent’s girlfriend, Mel Betancourt, has been working at Pee Wee’s for the last two years.

Maxine, who oversaw Pee Wee’s for 35 years, worked there for 50 and retired five years ago at age 85, is always close by, to lean on for advice.

“We’re known for our Coneys and our barbecue,” Rusty said. “It’s from Pee Wee’s recipe of 60 years — haven’t changed a thing.”

There is a secret ingredient, Rusty said.

“Oh boy, a lot of people would love to have that,” he said with a laugh.

What really makes the barbecue special is the preparation, Rusty said.

“It’s not about what’s in it, necessarily, it’s about how you cook it, in steps and when you add the stuff,” he said.

He will share that he cooks the beef in the oven for 12 hours.

“Then I start my juice, and I add certain stuff into the juice at a certain time,” Rusty said.

They recently tweaked the menu to include soups, such as ham and bean, chili and turkey.

“All of my homemade soups take a couple days to make. I boil all my beef bones and ham bone,” Rusty said.

“He’s a cook,” Maxine said.

The kitchen skills came from Bertha, who was Maxine’s mom and Rusty’s grandmother. The work ethic is also handed down in the family.

Trent said he started at Pee Wee’s, taking the trash out and wiping tables.

The Dari Snak is also known for its dairy treats, including homemade orange sherbet.

“I think we have the best chicken strips around,” Rusty added.

They also have pizza burgers, mozzarella sticks, perch, cod and shrimp.

When fully staffed, Pee Wee’s employs 13. It’s open from April until October, with this year’s expected opening sometime next week. Hours will be 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

While the opening prep is in full swing, the family will take Sunday off to celebrate Maxine’s 90th birthday. Her big, blended family of 50 will throw her a birthday party at St. John’s Lutheran Church in the village.

Maxine still does the books for Haas Service Station, which is just down the street from Pee Wee’s. Her husband, Clarence, who died in June 2022, owned the station.

“I couldn’t lift the cases of mix anymore, so it was time to retire,” Maxine said of her time ending at the Dari Snak.

Her parents, Everett “Pee Wee” and Bertha Haas, opened Pee Wee’s in 1963. Almost all of her immediate family have worked at the eatery, at some point.

They say people come from all over the country to eat at Pee Wee’s because of its stellar reputation.

“This is a landmark,” Maxine said.

There are some new things at the Dari Snak. They started taking credit cards last year, Trent said.

Trent, 28, is a 2013 Bowling Green High School graduate. He played football at Wilmington College, where he graduated from in 2017.

Mel, 25, graduated from Perrysburg High School in 2016 and the University of Toledo in 2020. In addition to her Pee Wee’s duties, she also manages a coffee shop and is a three-sport coach at Maumee Valley Country Day School.

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