Big Blue Drive-Thru set to open in Tompkinsville by mid-February

It’s hard not to notice the new business being constructed on the corner of Main and Carmen Streets in Tompkinsville.
Many residents have been wondering just what the big blue building is standing on the corner. If you are a Kentucky fan — like owner  James Key— the Wildcat blue will grab your attention immediately.
If you look a little closer, on the side of the building,  the words, “Big Blue Drive-Thru” feature an  outline of the state on wheels to demonstrate “driving thru.”
Key noted it was his love for Kentucky and his home town that brought he and his wife (and the blue building) to Tompkinsville.
Key says he came up with the business idea to be designed not only as a convenience store, but to also serve breakfast and lunch.
Those meals will consist of breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos, hamburgers,french fries, pizza, fountain drinks and fresh sweet tea, made daily.
Key explains, “Our sausage will come from Downing Cattle Company out of Fountain Run–it is really good sausage. All the meals will be handmade and fresh–nothing out of a can.”
He noted that it is very important to him to purchase supplies, advertising and even hire contractors locally.
“Monroe County is really special to my wife, Patty and I. We aren’t looking to get rich, we just want to take care of those in our community and we believe in giving back.”
He is hoping to do just that, not only through his business, but through his own patronage as he tries his best to never leave the county for anything he needs.
“This is a resilient town and I would love to see it as it once was. I am proud to be from Monroe County and proud to be back here,” he smiled fondly.
He is a hometown boy through and through, the classic story a lot of folks around Tompkinsville share. One of moving away, yet always dreaming of returning home. Like so many others, he remembered where he came from.
Key reminisced of his childhood, “I was born here, at the old hospital. I was raised here. We were poor–my dad died–and my mom, well she struggled to feed us.”
Key left Monroe in 1981, moving to Florida where he met his wife and was married in 1988.
He began work in Florida as a bag boy and worked his way up to being a store manager for Publix Supermarket, where he worked for 30 years before retiring and moving home. “Home, that was always my dream. I wanted to come home and I wanted to have my own store.”
The Keys have lived in Tompkinsville for a year now and that dream is about to come true. Loving your community–being proud of your town–this is what he wants to pass along to his customers, he says.
Not only will those customers be able to stop in for a hamburger and fries, but they can pick up some eggs, ice or even laundry detergent while driving through the store. Yes, you read that correctly–customers will drive through the store.
The 2,400 square foot Big Blue Drive-Thru is equipped with two garage type doors on each side allowing customers to drive right through the middle of the store, with the entrance open from Main Street or Old Mulkey Road and the exit at Carmen Street.
Upon entering, patrons will see the kitchen to their right with other products including drink machines to the left. Key says that the store will carry cigarettes at competitive prices, but will not have any kind of lottery tickets at this time. He will, however, have everything most traditional convenience stores carry.
“I don’t want anyone to ever have to get out of their car. If it is raining, they can just drive on through,” he says, explaining that the drive through doors will remain open as long as the temperature is not below 0F, and that there is a walk up window for those occasions or for customers who prefer that method of shopping.
Four average size cars will fit in the building at one time, Key says, noting that pretty much everything but a semi will be able to come through his store, which has exhaust fans and other safety measures in place. Patrons will be able to view pricing from their vehicles as everything will be visibly tagged or employees will be available for assistance. He also noted that daily specials will be printed on a dry erase board.
Key notes that he will be hiring within two weeks of the store opening, once all equipment is in place and merchandise is available for stock, “I plan to pay a decent wage and I want to hire locally as well.”
The Big Blue Drive through is set to open by mid February, and will be open six days a week,  Monday to Saturday, from 4:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.



  1. janie moody on January 22, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    where will you be taking appalactions i worked at school as a cook for 18 years retired in 2007 live on the old mulkey rd

  2. A. Kim Martin on January 23, 2020 at 12:45 am

    I used to come to t-ville quite often, i was dating a girl from there, we lived in smyrna, ga. Her parents lived two houses up from the drive in theater, Franciss and enloe jones, they were two great people that i had the privelage of knowing. they were a good down to earth family, larry jones , james jones ricky jones gloria jones and jennifer jones. i always looked forward for some Francis’es BBQ, man i loved that pork shoulder that they had. that was about fifteen years ago when i last visited, i miss t-ville and really miss the Jones family

    • James Key on February 1, 2020 at 10:31 am

      I remember the Jones family very well. Jennifer was in my high school class. Enloe was quite a preacher and Ricky was a very close friend to my brother Neal. I think Frances BBQ burned down but the R&H BBQ is very good and has been there over 30 years. Do you remember Dovies hamburgers?

  3. Lana Armes on January 23, 2020 at 8:23 am

    This is awesome. My dad and mom were born n raised in tville. We now own a farm our dad left us! We love tville its like our home town . All the petetts and thompsons ate all my relatives. Thank you for bringing this concept to our town. My parents were lucy petett and robert thompson

    • James Key on February 1, 2020 at 10:36 am

      My grandma was Minnie Pettet and her mother was Lucille Gettings. Im sure we are cousins on the Pettet side of the family.

  4. George Hale on January 23, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    Used them in Florida when I lived there. Very convenient for milk ,bread ECT. Not your weekly gro shopping stop. Take a little time to catch on here. The best for the owners to bring this to T-ville.Who wants to go to Wal-Mart, Five Star, Payless to get a few things and risk catching the flu from someone when you can just drive thru without getting wet when it’s raining, if you have kid’s not having to unbuckel and drag them around. In and out saves a lot of time and trouble.

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