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In these days of drive through fast food, it’s perhaps a little difficult to imagine driving up to a restaurant, being served right in your car and dining off the dashboard. But that’s how thousands of Canadians and  Americans ate meals in the 1950s through 1970s – the halcyon days of the drive-inThe concept of food delivered right to the car window got its start in 1921 on the highway in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. J.G. Kirby, a Dallas tobacco and candy wholesaler, opened the Pig Stand, a drive-in pork barbecue.It didn’t take long for the concept to catch on. A & W Restaurants, started in 1919 in Lodi, California by Roy Allen and Frank Wright, began operating drive-in locations in 1923. Even the original McDonalds concept, started in 1937 by Richard and “Mac” McDonald, included a drive-in component. In 1940, the brothers opened a drive-in on Route 66 in San Bernardino, California.

Nat Bailey, founder of White Spot restaurants, launched Canada’s first drive-in restaurant in 1928, at the corner of Granville and 67th Street in Vancouver. The inspiration for the innovation came one hot summer day when a customer, too tired to make the walk to Nat’s food truck, leaned out his car window and shouted, “Why don’t you bring it to us?”

By the next day, Nat had hired three energetic young “hustlers” to take orders from the parked cars. Because the “hopped to it” they became known as carhops.

I can still hear the jingle that seemed to be playing everywhere on radio and television in the late 1960s: “Let’s all go to A & W. Food’s more fun at A & W. We’ll have a mug of root beer, or maybe two or three . . . Hop in the car, come as you are, to A & W.”




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