The owners of Dave's Popcorn have decided to sell the south Minneapolis landmark, leaving customers worried that a favorite spot for gourmet popcorn and ice cream could soon be gone.

"It's been there for so long, you just expect it to be there," said Cynthia Bosman, 60, who has been a customer for five decades.

The family that owns Dave's, one of the last drive-in concession shops in Minneapolis, has decided they no longer have the energy to keep it going. They put it up for sale last week.

"It's too much for us to handle with our jobs," said Sherri Shannon-Neary, who bought Dave's with her husband, Andrew, in 2003. "We don't have the manpower or the energy."

The drive-in, located at 1848 E. 38th St., has changed hands a number of times since it opened in the mid-1950s.

Shannon-Neary's daughters, Olivia, 21, and Hillary, 22, have grown up at the store and are close friends with the neighborhood children. They still come to the store to sell popcorn, ice cream and soda pop.

Shannon-Neary said she hopes whoever buys the shop will keep the name and the retro vibe. The family delayed the sale as long as possible, fearing that the prospect of continuing a seasonal business might be too much for the next owner.

"That's probably the reason we didn't sell it three or four years ago," she said. "We were worried."

Their sale ad notes the business has "been approached to set up at farmers markets, corporate events, graduations, weddings, etc. New owner could offer other food-related items with very little expense."

The asking price? $95,000.

Dave's first appearance in the Minneapolis City Directory was in 1957, said Becky Wolf, reference assistant for the Minnesota Historical Society.

At that time, the store was on Cedar Avenue by Lake Nokomis.

The origin of the Dave's name is something of a mystery.

Chuck Palmquist, 77, remembers a man named Dave working behind the counter decades ago. Many locals thought 'Dave' was just whatever guy happened to be working behind the window.

The popcorn flavors have been passed on from owner to owner. The most popular flavors are the herb and the triple mix of white, caramel and cheese popcorn. The current owners use a secret recipe for the herb popcorn, with the recipe dating back to previous owners..

The menu has expanded over the years, now offering nine flavors of ice cream and seven flavors of popcorn.

Dave's remains one of the few locally owned drive-ins in Minneapolis, said Grant Wilson, the city's business license manager.

Customers still drive up to the window to pick up orders, and Shannon-Neary said her family has had to repaint the building a couple times due to customers bumping their tires against the walls.

Some customers come in wearing their pajamas, others swing by after a sporting event.

One regular was known as the Tin Man. Every Saturday, he would walk up to Dave's window to fill up 10 large Christmas-themed popcorn tins.

One day, he stopped coming.

Two years later, his daughter drove up to buy a bag of popcorn. She mentioned to the owners that her late father, Vernon Goodin, was the man who used to come fill up the tins.

"The thing is we feel so guilty putting it up for sale," Shannon-Neary said. "We don't want it to come to an end."

Beatrice Dupuy • 612-673-1707