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Jun 18, 2002 09:18 AM

Drive-in movies/Drive-in restaurants

  • l

Folks, if you fondly recall the days of drive-in movies, they're not ALL gone from the area. There are 2 around Baltimore - Bengies near Essex & Big M near Bel Air. The latter has an old-fashioned drive-in restaurant in front. Even I recall those in the late 1960s around DC (wasn't Hot Shoppes that way?) - drive up to covered counters in the parking lot, each with a menu & machine with a button to call in your order. In time, a waitress brings out your food (sorry - I'm too young for the days with waitresses on roller skates). I know that drive-thru windows have replaced this, but as a kid I used to love buzzing the button & speaking into the speaker for food!
I've even seen such drive-in restaurants a fewyears ago in Washington State.

The next closest drive-in theatres (with their snack bars for popcorn, ice cream, sodas, burgers, fries & hot dogs) are near Winchester VA, Dover DE & Columbia PA. Some company caled Bumpers is even building a brand-new drive-in Eldersburg, MD.

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  1. Looks like Bumpers is a no-go. I work with a girl who lives in Eldersburg and she said the locals shot it down. Complaining of it being too close to residential areas, bringing to much traffic and noise to the area.

    As for myself, I miss drive-in movies and sit-n-park type restaurants. When I lived on Long Island, there was a drive-in movie only 10 minutes away. I saw as many Disney flicks as a little girl could. I heard that it finally succumbed to the wrecking ball, leaving only the indoor theater intact. And for the restaurants, A&W had a great one in my town that I went to as my reward for good grades. Little mugs and great fries. Sonic and Checkers just isn't the same.

    3 Replies
    1. re: SisterT

      I guess this could also go in the guilty pleasures thread, but back in Oklahoma Sonic had a side dish called Pickle-Os, pickled chips that were breaded and deep fried. You ate them by dipping them in yellow mustard. Sounds terrible, but they were delicious.

      Ok, now I have a craving.

      And while I'm remembering Oklahoma, anyone know where I can get a decent chicken fried steak, preferably with fried okra and mashed potatoes and white gravy?

      1. re: Jon Parker

        Maybe Georgia Brown's or B Smith's (upscale), or the Florida Ave Grill (downscale).


        1. re: Jon Parker

          Still looking for a good chicken fried steak myself. As for the pickles, I've not had the pickle chips but at the PA Rennaisance festival they serve fried pickle spears. Yum Yum!

      2. Big M is actually in Churchville and has "cruise ins" on an irregular Saturday night basis. Both the drive in theatre and "restaurant" are original from the '50's with working teletrays and in car speakers that are scratchy. Across the street is one of the best miniature golf courses in America having, like the drive in theatre and restaurant, been preserved from the '50's Next to it is the Arctic Circle for frozen custard but unfortunately they no longer had the Electro Freeze machine they once had.
        This crossroads may be the most nostalgically significant of any in America. Baltimore Magazine rediscovered it a number of years ago naming several of these "Best in Baltimore" while also drawing in hordes of visitors.
        It's 90 miles from Reston to Churchville and worth the drive to truly go back to the '50's.
        Sonic is a chain all over the south and southwest that is a contemporary recreation of the '50's style. Most smaller towns have one and many still have cruising on Saturday nights. Still, Sonic, doesn't have the feel that Churchville does. Also, you mentioned Washington State: Dick's in Spokane has McDonald's original fries from pre 1967 which are fried in animal fat using fresh potatoes and leaving the skin on. Along with the separately owned Dick's in Seattle these are the very same drive-ins that opened 50 years ago and still have windows you walk up to and order.