Cruise night at Arnie’s in Concord: ‘The real hometown feel’

Last modified: 7/29/2013 11:57:05 AM
The Lone Wolf Cruisers Car Club has one requirement: Members must have a special-interest car or one that qualifies as an antique, classic or soon-to-be classic. Only honorary club member Tom Arnold, owner of Arnie’s Place and host of the club’s weekly cruise nights, is exempt from the rule.

Arnie’s Place, a neighborhood barbecue and ice cream joint on the Heights, has hosted the cruise nights for about 15 years. Every Tuesday during the summer, club members, and anyone else with a qualifying car, park their vehicles in Arnie’s parking lot for the restaurant’s patrons and car enthusiasts to admire.

On Tuesday, nearly two dozen cars were on display next to Arnie’s red-and-white building. The cars represented a range of colors, makes and models, but all of them shared one characteristic: a proud owner standing nearby.

“I have an affinity for old cars, I always have,” Linda Weiser of Canterbury said while she looked around the lot. “These people bring their cars out and they’re spotless. They’re their pride and joy. You gotta show up and support these people.”

Weiser has frequented Arnie’s for years because of its excellent ice cream and kind owner, she said. Once she discovered cruise nights, she made Tuesday her regular night to stop by so she could appreciate the varied cars that attend, while also keeping her eye out for one in particular.

“I’m always kind of looking for my old car to show up here,” Weiser said. “I had a ’77 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, fire engine red.”

Several of the cars parked at Arnie’s on Tuesday were red, but Weiser’s Chevy was not among them.

Wayne McIntyre, one of the founding members of the Lone Wolf Cruisers, said cruise nights always bring together a wide variety of interesting cars. He never sees the same lineup from week to week.

“Some of these older cars here are worth 30, 40, 50 thousand dollars right now,” he said. “We’re opening up to more newer cars as well. There’s so much special interest in some of the newer cars. . . . (It’s) nice looking at some of the ideas people put into their cars.”

McIntyre, his wife, Robin, and Don Drew are three of the original club members who founded the group on a whim in 1995. In the summer, the club hosts cruise nights at Arnie’s and attends other area cruise nights and car shows. In the winter, Drew said they stay close by going out to dinner every Friday night. And even though Arnie’s is only open about eight months of the year, Arnold opens his doors year-round for the monthly club meetings.

Betty Philibert, a former president of the club who now serves as secretary, said the club’s purpose is simple.

“It’s about the people,” she said. “We just like hanging out with each other. . . . I’ve made a lot of great friends in this club.”

But cruise nights are about more than camaraderie – they’re about charity, too. Tuesday night Philibert manned a table with a large roll of raffle tickets. She sold tickets that gave visitors a chance to win half the club’s profit for the night, which comes from the raffle and the $1-per-car fee.

The other half of the profit goes to the Friends Program, a nonprofit that focuses on community and relationship building in New Hampshire. Philibert said the club has donated more than $21,000 to the nonprofit over the last 12 years.

Although the club plays a large role in cruise nights, not all of the car owners who frequent the event are members. For others, the car show gives them a chance to show off their vehicles to a crowd they know will appreciate them.

One such attendee is Chris Wood of Concord. Wood’s bright red Toyota MR2 attracted a lot of attention, particularly from younger children at Arnie’s.

Although he was originally interested in “classic muscle cars,” Wood now collects MR2s, buying and selling them frequently. He has been bringing his cars to Arnie’s for about six years, but those are not his first memories of cruise nights.

“I used to come here for cruise nights when I was a kid,” Wood said. “Since I was a kid, I’ve always been interested in cars. I love all things motor, and cars are the main thing in that.”

Although he is not a member of the Lone Wolf Cruisers, Wood came close to joining the previous Tuesday, before an untimely rain shower ruined his registration form. He enjoys spending time with the other car owners, and the parking lot always has something new to admire.

“For me, its the real hometown feel,” he said. “It’s a local car show, and being a car guy, everyone wants a local car show and this is it. I’ve been coming here since I was young, and I’ll keep on coming.”

Parked behind Wood’s MR2 was a large army vehicle, which was a favorite of a young car enthusiast like Wood once was. Jennifer Wirtz of Pembroke said her son loved the weekly appearance of the vehicle.

Wirtz only brings her son and daughter to cruise night about once a summer, but it is a popular destination with her kids.

“We come because they like to check out the cars. He’s always liked cars,” said Wirtz, looking at her son. “He likes anything with wheels.”

Wirtz said the cruise night is usually a popular event for families looking for someplace fun to take their children, and even with the chance of rain, groups of restaurant patrons admired the cars from Arnie’s outdoor picnic tables while they finished dinner or walked around the lot with ice cream cones. Others came just to admire the cars.

Dick Pellerin stood by his bright red ROUSH Mustang in the lot, ready to give more information to anyone who looked curiously at the car.

Pellerin joined the Lone Wolf Cruisers in 2001 because the cruise nights looked like fun.

“You know the car gets you here, but it’s the socializing, that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “Everyone has a good time.”

(Mel Flanagan can be reached at 369-3321 or

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