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Jan 30, 2013 05:04 PM

Drive Ins & Carhops

While we’re feeling a bit nostalgic over at the diner thread I was equally curious to hear about your drive in and/or carhop dining experience! And, if this includes movie theaters and unusual setting that serve food, please share that too!
While Stewart’s is most certainly synonymous with drive in’s and car hop service and the first place I experienced an icy cold root beer soda (and quickly learned that carbonated drinks give me the hiccups) I’ve also been to sub shops and recently food trucks with car hop service, roller skating waitresses at movie theaters, decked out roller blade servers in NYC, even had a pizza delivered in Venice, CA by skate board to my beach chair.

So what drive in/carhop experiences have you enjoyed? When was the last time you went to a drive in? Seasonal as they might be in certain parts of the country, I hope they are still around in 10 years. And, for our global CH’s what say you of such dining pleasures in your parts?

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  1. When I was a kid, there was a drive-in called Linton's... in Chester, PA @ 9th and Kerlin Streets. Unfortunately, it's now an area that you'd avoid at ALL costs... if ya wanta keep living!! Your order would come and hook onto side of car door on a tray.o roller skates involved. My Dad always joked that it was "Chinese" place... "Lin Ton's".

    1. The Beacon drive-in in Spartanburg, NC, holds wonderful memories for me. The bbq is fantastic, and the pork-a-plenty is my standard order: bbq, fries and onion rings in a basket. What makes the place special is this: although they do have laminated menus available, when you pull in for what they call "curb service," the server literally sings or raps the menu to you from memory. It's pretty awesome.
      The backbone of the staff there has been on the job for upwards of twenty years. One man who works the counter inside has been in their employ for over forty. He's a blind gent, and he is the heart of the place.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mamachef

        Big wow, mamachef. You are food fortunate indeed. Menus sung, a place with heart, all the standard fare we love about drive ins--lucky you!

      2. My first job was carhopping at a local drive-in in the mountainless part of Colorado, a disgustingly long time ago. Fortunately no roller skating was required, as that would have been a deal breaker for me!

        It was farm country, a lot of Mexican migrants so there were a few Mexican items on the menu before Mexican food was well-known across the country.

        One day a tourist passing through asked me what tay-kos were. I had to think for a minute before I figured out she meant tacos!

        As for whether they'll be around in a few years--Sonic in my area, despite our harsh winters, seems to be building like crazy. And we have an old fashioned A&W in my town that does pretty well, although obviously better in the summer.

        1 Reply
        1. re: coney with everything

          first hand experience! fun story, coney with.

          I've noticed a number of Sonic's popping up in my area of NJ too. Can't say I've ever been to one and I didn't realize they were considered drive in & park chains with car hop service. Sonic tv commercials typically show people driving their cars thru an outdoor pick up window...I wonder why they don't highlight the park feature. they do on the web (and I learned something today!)

        2. The Disselfink Drive-in in Gettysburg, PA. Still going strong after 60+ years. Huge menu and sarsparilla floats.

          8 Replies
          1. re: flavrmeistr

            I'm going to name my first daughter Disselfink.

            1. re: Perilagu Khan

              Wasn't that one of the Three Billy Goats Gruff? (trip-trap, trip-trap.... :)

              1. re: mamachef

                A disselfink is hex design seen on the old German barns in Pennsylvania and western Maryland. It's a local thing, like scrapple.

                1. re: flavrmeistr

                  Thank you. And now that I recall, it was actually Dystelfynk. Hex signs, how cool. Witch balls, even cooler.....

                  1. re: mamachef

                    Er...shouldn't that be warlock balls?

                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                      How did I just know it would be you?

                    2. re: mamachef

                      Your right. Distelfink. It's just pronounced disselfink.

                      1. re: flavrmeistr

                        Thank you!! I love details like this!!

            2. From my childhood when we would visit my aunt in Indianapolis:


              Good old-timey stuff.