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Aug 18, 2009 10:13 AM


I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this, but does anyone know of a classic, old-fashioned drive-in restaurant that's not a Sonic or Checkers, within a couple of hours from Baltimore?

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  1. There's one on PA Route 94 just north of Hanover PA. I'm not sure what it's called - Tropical (something) I think. It has the classic features - the long central awning separating two rows of parking, what appears to be a menu board at each parking slot, and so forth. It looks like you could film a scene from American Graffiti there - the classic "drive-in" vibe.

    The nearest cross street is Race Car Road, which tees off of 94 and goes to Lincoln Speedway. I mention that in case one wishes to do an on-line search to find out exact directions.

    I've never actually gone there, just driven by, so I'm not sure what the range of menu is, whether they have carhops for service, or whatever.

    I also seem to recall there's one somewhere North of Baltimore - Churchville, maybe? As I recall, there was a drive-in movie on one side of the street, and a drive-in restaurant next to a miniature golf place on the other side of the street.
    Perhaps somebody familiar with that area will recognize that description and provide exact details and location. I think that it's been several years since I drove past that cluster, and I suspect that the drive-in movie place has long since closed, but perhaps the drive-in restaurant is still there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Warthog

      A little web searching finds that the one in Abbottstown is called Tropical Treat, and the one that is or was in Churchville is called The Big M, and it looks like it was on 155 or 22

      I know that Tropical Treat was open and active as of last Saturday night when last I drove by. I have no idea if The Big M is still operating, though I saw reference to a car club cruise night scheduled there early this summer. I'm pretty sure The BIg M Drive-in theater, owned by the same people, has closed.

      With the names and locations, I'll leave it to the O.P. to investigate further.

    2. There is a cute old one in Staunton, Virginia, but that isn't very close. I know there are a couple others, I just can't think of where...

      1. Not exactly what you're looking for, but the Weenie Beanie always makes me think of drive-ins. I guess technically it's a drive-up.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Dennis S

          Yeah, I'd characterize Weenie Beenie as drive up, in that you have to go to the window to order. Like a Dairy Queen or Tastee Freez. I define drive-in as a place where the servers come to you, preferrably on rollerskates and miniskirts. Some of the Hot Shoppes had speakers and awnings for this, but they're all long gone.

          The halfsmoke at Weenie Beenie is still good though.

          1. re: monkeyrotica

            The Big M closed both their drive in theatre and restaurant several years ago. This is a really interesting question since there are so few drive in restaurants left around the U. S. excepting Sonic. Still, there ARE some:

   is the website for Wright's Drive In restaurant in Staunton, VA which is still going strong.

            Stewart's is a regional chain which started in Ohio and today operates in, I believe, eight states including Pennsylvania and New Jersey. About half of them still have car hops. The closest Stewart's with a car hop to Baltimore is the restaurant in Vineland, NJ. This is their website:

            Over the years I've stopped in about a dozen or so of them including most recently Tom's River, NJ a few months ago.

            Crabb's Tropical Treat is at 2279 Carlisle Pike in Hanover.

            There are other drive in restaurants that are still operating in Pennsylvania whose names I've forgotten.

            1. re: Joe H

              I've been to the Stewart's in Baltimore. It's off Pulaski Highway. I'd heard they make a steamed cheeseburger so I had to give it a try, being a fan of the steamed cheeseburgers they serve at Ted's in Meriden, CT. This was more like a Taylor Maid Rite loose meat sandwich. Definitely a unique experience.

              And, yeah, they don't do car hop service. It's carryout/dine in.


              1. re: monkeyrotica

                Stewart's Diet Root Beer is the best diet root beer I've had that is still available-i use to prefer Dominion but they no longer make diet. The Dairy Godmother sells a diet root beer from Milwaukee that the New York Times once called their regular root beer the "best in Amrica." I like Stewart's better.