Early Los Angeles Drive-in Restaurants


In the 1930’s the world went Deco-crazy, and the American drive-in reached its pinnacle. Swirling, modernistic, futurific lines and colors dominated. Drive-ins became fantastical, even outlandish: some were octagonal or cylindrical; others were imbued with silly themes (like windmills or airplanes).  Women became valued workers, often clad in campy uniforms and roller skates. Menus were expanded to include fish, vegetables, and desserts. So popular were drive-ins that at one point there were over 200 in greater Los Angeles alone! ++


Carpenter's Drive-in (Sunset and Vine)

(1932)^^#* - Carpenter’s Drive-in Restaurant, located on Sunset Boulevard just east of Vine Street in Hollywood. Photo by ‘Dick’ Whittington   


Historical Notes

The Carpenter’s Sandwiches Drive-in seen above was located at 6265 Sunset Boulevard between Vine Street and Argyle Avenue in Hollywood. For 30 cents you could enjoy a hamburger and wash it down with a cup of beer while sitting behind the wheel of your car (5 cents more for the premium beer).



(1933)* - Carhops pose for the camera in front of Carpenter's Sandwich Drive-in restaurant, located near the NE corner of Sunset and Vine.  


Historical Notes

Harry B. Carpenter founded the Carpenter's chain with his brother Charles and operated many locations in Los Angeles including: Sunset and Vine, Wilshire and Western, Wilshire and La Cienega, Wilshire and Vine, Pico and Vermont, Silver Lake and Glendale and Sunset and Virgil.*



(ca. 1930s)^^ - View of Carpenter's Drive-in showing two carhops standing by the counter while another to the right appears to be serving food.  




(1936)#* - Carpenters Sandwiches, Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street.  Note the change in style of carhop uniforms.  




(1930s)+#+ - Nighttime view looking south toward Sunset Boulevard showing Carpenter's Sandwich Drive-in as seen from the auto mechanic shop next door.  



(1930s)^^^^* – Nighttime view of Carpenter’s Sandwich located at on the north side of Sunset between Vine and Argyle. Signs read:  Ben Hur Delicious Drip Coffee, Sirloin Steak Sandwich - 25 Cents, Fried Oyster Sandwich - 20 Cents, Hot Fudge Sundae - 25 Cents, and “A Real Hamburger Sandwich” - 15 Cents.  


Historical Notes

Originally located near the northeast corner of Sunset and Vine (6265 Sunset Blvd), Carpenter’s would be torn down to make room for the new NBC Radio City building, constructed in 1938. Shortly thereafter, Carpenter’s was reincarnated across the street on the southeast corner of Sunset and Vine (6290 Sunset Blvd).




(1930s)+#+ – View looking north from behind a neon sign for Eastside Beer located on the SE corner of Sunset and Vine.  Carpenter’s Sandwiches Drive-in can be seen across the street at a location that would become NBC Radio City.  A new Carpenter's would be built right here on the SE corner, where this picture was taken from.  In the distance can also be seen the neon signs for The Broadway-Hollywood and the Hollywood Plaza Hotel.  



Carpenter's Drive-in (Wilshire and Western)

(1938)#* - View of the stylish Carpenter's Sandwich drive-in located at Wilshire and Western. The art deco style Wilshire Professional Building stands in the background.  


Historical Notes

Harry B. Carpenter founded the Carpenter's chain with his brother Charles and operated many locations in Los Angeles including: Sunset and Vine, Wilshire and Western, Wilshire and La Cienega, Wilshire and Vine, Wilshire and Vermont, Pico and Vermont, Silver Lake and Glendale and Sunset and Virgil.*



(1937)^x^ – Close-up night view of Carpenter’s Drive-in at  Wilshire Blvd and Western Ave, directly across the street from the Wiltern Theatre .  



Carpenter's Drive-in (Wilshire and Vermont, NW Corner)

(1947)*#* – View looking west on Wilshire Boulevard at Vermont Avenue.  Carpenter’s Drive-in is seen on the northwest corner.   


Historical Notes

Between 1905 and 1928, the Burkhard Residence would stand on the northwest corner of Wilshire and Vermont.  The lot would sit empty for a while and then be occupied by a florist shop and billboard for a short 5 years (1928 – 1933).   The building that went up on the site in 1933 was first occupied by restaurateur Harry Bogen; two years later, it became a branch of the popular Carpenter's Drive-in chain.



(ca. 1935)^** – A waitress takes an order from a smiling customer sitting behind the wheel of his car at the Carpenter’s Drive-in located on the NW corner of Wilshire and Vermont.  In the background, we can see the Bullock's Wilshire department store (3050 Wilshire Blvd).  




(ca. 1935)^** - A busy waitress serves a customer at Carpenter's Drive-In Restaurant on the corner of Wilshire Blvd and Vermont Ave.   The Bullock's Wilshire is seen in the background.  




Carpenter's Drive-in (606 E. Colorado)

(ca. 1938)* - According to signage, this Carpenter's drive-in restaurant features fried chicken, sandwiches, year round fresh fruit pies, breakfast, hamburgers and fountain service, but no cocktails. The Rite Spot Cafe pylon is seen in the background.  


Historical Notes

In 1936, after separating from his brother, Charles E. Carpenter opened three Carpenter's Cafes. A transitional project Carpenter's Village (606 E. Colorado) combined a Rite Spot Cafe and Carpenter's Drive-in. Next he opened the Rite Spot Cafe in Pasadena, located at 1500 West Colorado Street (now considered Eagle Rock) and the Santa Anitan Cafe at Huntington and Colorado.*


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Harry Carpenter's Drive-in (Sunset and Vine, SE Corner)

(ca. 1938)^** – View looking south showing the newly built Carpenter’s Drive-in Restaurant located on the southeast corner of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street in Hollywood.  


Historical Notes

This Carpenter's Drive-in replaced the one located near the northeast corner of Sunset and Vine (6265 Sunset Blvd), which was torn down in 1938 to make room for the new NBC Radio City building.



(ca. 1938)^** – Life Magazine photo showing a carhop carrying a tray of food at Carpenter's Drive-in, with a 1936 Ford coupe seen on the left.  In the distance, across Sunset Boulevard, stands the recently completed NBC Radio Studios.  


Historical Notes

Carpenter’s was a chain of drive-in restaurants —there were six or seven locations—but this was probably the best known because it sat on the southeast corner of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street in Hollywood, which put it across the street from the iconic NBC Radio Studios.




(1940s)##^* – Night view showing cars parked at the beautiful saucer-shaped Harry Carpenter's Drive-in, on the southeast corner of Sunset and Vine, 6290 Sunset Boulevard.  


Historical Notes

Between 1931 and 1961, three different drive-in restaurants occupied the southeast corner of Sunset and Vine:
•    1931 the Pig Stand BBQ Sandwich Drive-in restaurant goes up.
•    1937 Sept. Carpenter’s demolishes their existing building across the street, builds a new Carpenter's here
•    1951 Carpenter’s becomes a Stan's Drive-in
•    1961 Drive-in demolished for 20-story Sunset Vine Tower




(1940s)##^* – View looking northwest toward the intersection of Sunset and Vine from the front of Carpenter’s Drive-in Restaurant located on the SE corner.   NBC Radio City is across the street to the right (NE corner) while Wallichs Music City is seen on the left (NW corner).  


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McDonnell's Drive-in (Sunset and La Brea)

(1930s)* - View showing McDonnell's Drive-in located on the northwest corner of Sunset and La Brea ( (Not to be confused with McDonald's fast food restaurants of today). Tiny Naylor's Dirve-in would be built on this corner in the 1940s.  


Historical Notes

"Rusty" McDonnell operated a chain of drive-ins in the Los Angeles area during the 30s and 40s, long before the fast food behemoth McDonalds came on the scene. His restaurants, designed by the revered architect Wayne McAllister, were fabulously kitsch and garish and customers could spot their huge neon signs from miles away.++^





(1930s)#**# - Close-up view showing cars parked at McDonnell's Drive-in at Sunset and La Brea, NW corner.  





(1930s)#*#* – Night view showing a carhop serving food at the Sunset and La Brea McDonnell's Drive-in.  



McDonnell's Ever Eat Drive-in (Beverly and La Brea)

(ca. 1937)* - Exterior view of a McDonnell's drive-in, located at Beverly Boulevard (foreground) and La Brea Avenue (right), with two cars parked directly in front. The restaurant's sign at the corner reads "Eat in Car, 1/2 fried chicken, 50 cents, Oyster sandwich, and fresh fruit pies." To the right of the drive-in is an advertisement for Eastside Ale, and in the distance, the sign for Waikiki restaurant, at 335 N. La Brea Avenue, is visible.  


Historical Notes

Other McDonnell's "Drive-Inns" were located at Beverly Boulevard & Western Avenue, Wilshire and Robertson boulevards, Yucca Street and Cahuenga Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, and Sunset Boulevard and La Brea Avenue. The McDonnell's restaurants throughout Los Angeles were: McDonnell's Monterey (7312 Beverly Boulevard); McDonnell's Wilshire (Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue); McDonnell's Fairfax (Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard); McDonnell's Gates Hotel (Sixth and Figueroa streets); McDonnell's Hillstreet (454 S. Hill Street); McDonnell's Figueroa (4012 S. Figueroa Street); McDonnell's Adams and Figueroa (2626 S. Figueroa Street); and McDonnell's Pico Street (Pico and Hope streets). *




(1935)##+ - View showing cars parked in front of McDonnell's Drive-in. Large sign reads: EAT IN CAR - Fried Chickn, Mc Donnells Style 40 cents - with Shoestring Potatoes, Honey & Toast; Chicken Broth with Noodles - Cup 10 cents, Bowl 15 cents.  


Historical Notes

The restaurant served some of the best fried chicken in the state, raising its own chickens on a 200 acre ranch at Daggett, California. McDonnell's survived until the 50s before sadly closing down. ++^




(1931)*^^ - The staff of the McDonnell’s Ever Eat Drive-in at Beverly and La Brea stand at attention, waiting for customers.  


Historical Notes

McDonnell employed a local artist to sketch whimsical interpretations of the car-hops or waiters that served cokes, hamburgers and fries to customers for its menus.++^




(ca. 1931)^*# – Close-up view showing Mc Donnell’s Drive-in on the corner of Beverly and La Brea.  Sign above the counter reads:  “17 Other Places to Serve You”.  




(1936)#++ - View showing a carhop picking up tray from driver of auto.  



McDonnell's Sandwiches Drive-in (Beverly and Western)

(ca. 1935)^** – View showing McDonnell’s Drive-in located on the corner of Beverly & Western, Walter Wetzel in foreground on way to work as dishwasher. (Wetzel family collection)  


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Simon's Drive-in (Wilshire and Fairfax, NW Corner)

(1939)^^ - View showing Simon's Drive-in Restaurant on the northwest corner of Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard.  This is an engineering notebook photoprint taken from top deck of Wilshire Boulevard Bus.  


Historical Notes

Simon's Drive-In Restaurant was built in 1935 and looks very similar to many of the other drive-ins built in the 1930s. That's because so many of these futuristic looking drive-ins were designed by architect Wayne McAllister.

Wayne McAllister was a Los Angeles-based architect who was a leader in the Googie style of architecture that embraced the automobile and the Space Age. Inspired by tail fins and gleaming chrome, he elevated the drive-in restaurant to futuristic works of art. He created iconic circular drive-in restaurants in Southern California, including Simon's, Herbert's, Robert's, and McDonnell's in the 1930s.*^



(1939)* - A daytime view of Simon's Drive-In Restaurant located on the northwest corner of Fairfax and Wilshire. Through the glass floor-to-ceiling windows, patrons can be seen sitting at the circular counter having their meals. "Spaghetti", "Chili", "Fountain", "Hamburgers" and "Barbecue" can be seen above the windows. A carhop is standing at front, holding food in her hand.


Historical Notes

At one time Simon's Drive-Ins dominated the Southern California drive-in restaurant craze. The Simon brothers had operated a chain of successful dairy lunch counters in downtown Los Angeles, and in 1935 decided to capitalize on the growing car culture of Los Angeles by opening auto friendly locations in the emerging commercial centers of Wilshire Boulevard, Sunset and Ventura Boulevards.^##




(ca. 1940s)##** - Night view of Simon's drive-in located on the northwest corner of Fairfax and Wilshire. The Streamline Moderne style ciruclar structure was designed by renowned architect Wayne McAllister.  


Historical Notes

This is the same corner where the 1950s Johnie's Coffee Shop now stands. Across the street is the old May Company Building which is now a part of LACMA/the Hollywood Museum.

Going back even further, the DeMille Airfield No.2 (later Rogers Airport) was located at this same Fairfax/Wilshire site in the early 1920s.




(ca. 1948)#* - Couple of jitter-bugs down at Simon's Drive-In wowing the waitress with their tiger-stripe upholstery. Ah, those were the days!  




Simon's Drive-in (El Monte)

(1940s)^^#* – View showing the Simon’s Drive-in Restaurant in El Monte. Photo by Doug White of SCE  


Historical Notes

In the 1930s, Wayne McAllister, the originator of the circular drive-in, designed circular Simon's Drive-in Restaurants in the Streamline Moderne style with a three-layer roof and neon advertising pylon; this style was copied throughout the country.*




(1939)^^#* - Nighttime view of Simon’s drive-in with customers sitting at counter and others in their car. Photo by Dick Whittington  




Simon's Drive-in (Sunset Strip - later Dolores Drive-in)

(ca. 1938)* - Cars circle this colonial style Simon's, located at 8801 Sunset Boulevard at the corner of Horn Avenue in West Hollywood. The drive-in features fried chicken, barbecue.  


Historical Notes

This was a Simon’s Drive-in from 1935 until 1945 when Dolores Drive-in took over.  It became Jack’s on the Strip Drive-in sometime in the 1950s.  The building stood until the mid-1960s when it was demolished to make way for a succession of music stores, Muntz Stereo and then Tower Records (1971).


Dolores Drive-in (Sunset Strip - previously Simon's Drive-in)

(ca. 1945)^** – View showing Dolores Drive-in Restaurant located at 8801 Sunset Boulevard, previously a Simon's Drive-in (1935 - 1945).  


Historical Notes

The Strip’s lone drive-in restaurant at the time, it was originally occupied by a branch of the Simon’s chain. The understated colonial-style building was markedly different that the orbit-shaped, neon-ringed Art Deco Simon’s further east at 6760 Sunset Blvd. near Hollywood High School. It opened as Dolores Drive-in here about 1945, its first Los Angeles location. Note how this design is almost identical to Patmar's Drive-in, both designed by Wayne McAllister.

Dolores would only last until the 1950s when it became Jack’s on the Strip Drive-in. The building stood until the mid-1960s when it was demolished to make way for a succession of music stores, Muntz Stereo and then Tower Records (1971).



Dolores Drive-in (Beverly Hills)

(1957)^.^ - Dolores Drive-in located near the northwest corner of Wilshire Blvd and La Cienega Blvd.  Technically, Dolores was at 8531 Wilshire, which put it on the corner of Le Doux Road. But it looks like there was a Richfield gas station right next door.  


Historical Notes

Dolores was founded by Amanda and Ralph Stevens, who after owning various restaurants in different states moved to Los Angeles in 1944 and opened the Dolores drive-in restaurant in Hollywood.

There were many drive-in restaurants in Los Angeles during the mid 1940's and Dolores fit right in. Then, in 1956 the Stevens' son Robert and his wife Lucille moved to Los Angeles to help manage the newly leased Dolores Restaurant on Wilshire Blvd. and La Cienega in Beverly Hills. The restaurant was a hit with the local teenagers in the 40's and 50's with its carhops, Suzie Q's and JJ Burgers became a staple in the community for the next thirty years.^




(1978)* - Looking northeast across Wilshire Boulevard towards Dolores Drive-in Restaurant.  Le Doux Road is on the left and La Cienega Boulevard is out of view to the right. Compare to previous photo to see how the once prominent tower above the structure has now been cut.  




(1978)* - Looking east across Le Doux Road towards Dolores Restaurant, a dining spot with car-hop service at 8531 Wilshire Boulevard.  


Historical Notes

In 1981 Dolores Drive-in was forced to close down to make room for a high rise office building. The last of the remaining Dolores Restaurants was located at 11407 Santa Monica Blvd in West Los Angeles, which recently closed down.



(1980)+# - Dolores Drive-in on Wilshire Boulevard near La Cienega, Beverly Hills.  LA Times Collection  


Historical Notes

Built in 1946, Dolores would become the last restaurant of its kind to be seen in Beverly Hills thanks to a city ordinance prohibiting drive-ins.

In 1981, KNBC TV interviewed loyal customers who flocked to Dolores's, the popular drive-in restaurant at Wilshire and La Cienega Blvd. for one last meal before it was torn down. Click HERE to see short video.

Today, an office building stands where Dolores Drive-in once served hamburgers and fries. Click HERE for contemporary view.



Dolores Drive-in (Sepulveda and Washington)

(1959)^** – View showing Dolores Drive-in located at the corner of Sepulveda and Washington boulevards.  The rocket on the right actually belongs to the Oldsmobile dealer next door and was probably a local landmark.  


Historical Notes

Dolores had several locations: Sunset & La Brea, Wilshire and La Cienega, and also Sunset and Horn where the iconic Tower Records store would go in many years later.


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P.K. Sandwiches (Leimart Park)

(1930)^^ – View showing P.K. Sandwiches located at W. Vernon Ave & Crenshaw Blvd. (4406 Crenshaw Blvd), when a French dip sandwich cost 20¢.  Trays are stacked up on the counter.  There appears to also be an upstairs patio for eat-in service.  


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Patmar's Drive-in (El Segundo)

(ca. 1950)^x^ – View showing Patmar’s Drive-in Restaurant with Patmars Motel seen in the background, located in El Segundo. Note that the design of the drive-in is almost identical to Dolores Drive-in (on the Sunset Strip).  


Historical Notes

Architect Wayne McAllister designed the $35,000 split-level structure, which opened on May 8, 1941.

Patmar’s proved popular throughout the 1950s as a gathering spot for teenagers. Jerry Walters of the El Segundo Historical Society described it as like “the ‘American Graffiti’ of El Segundo.”




(1940s)^x^ – Postcard view showing the Patmar’s Drive-in Restaurant and Motel complex located at the corner of Imperial Highway and Sepulveda Boulevard in El Segundo.  


Historical Notes

In 1939, Howard Patrick and Norman Marsh decided to go into business together and open a drive-in restaurant.  They surveyed the area and settled on the southeast corner of Imperial Highway and Sepulveda Boulevard in El Segundo. Taking a syllable from each of their names, they called their new restaurant venture Patmar’s.

Patmar’s held its grand opening on Memorial Day (then known as Decoration Day), May 29, 1939. The restaurant was an immediate success. In December 1940, Patrick and Marsh decided to build a state-of-the-art 14-unit motel on the hill directly behind the restaurant.

In 1960, its owners closed the Patmar’s complex and sold the property. The drive-in restaurant building was relocated to the El Segundo Golf Course (now the Lakes at El Segundo).  It was used as the golf pro shop, where it remained until its demolition in the late 1980s.

Click HERE for contemporary view of the intersection of Imperial Highway and Sepulveda.


Scrivner's Drive-in (Cahuenga and Sunset, NE Corner)

(1940s)^^ – View looking at the northeast corner of Cahuenga and Sunset boulevards showing the circular Scrivner's Drive-in Restaurant with cars parked around it.  




(ca. 1956)##^* – View looking north across Sunset Boulevard showing Scrivner’s Drive-in, jammed-packed with cars.  Cahuenga Boulevard is on the left and Ivar Avenue veers off on the right.  The Broadway-Hollywood Building can be seen at upper-right.  


Historical Notes

Art Laboe made a name for himself as a young disc jockey "by hauling his bulky radio equipment for live afternoon broadcasts" at this drive-in. He also did shows from another Scrivner's on Imperial Highway and Western. The old Scrivner's spot is now occupied by a Jack in the Box, but not for long: a hotel to replace it is in the works. Click HERE for contemporary view. #*#*



1950s)##^* – Scrivner’s Drive-in with large banner hanging over parking lot. Banner reads::  K-POP – ART LABOE  


Historical Notes

Art Laboe’s most popular remote location, and one that he would occupy for eight years from 1951 to 1959, was in the parking lot of Scrivner’s Drive-In at the corner of Sunset and Cahuenga in Hollywood.



(1950s)^^^ – View showing disc jockey Art Laboe (behind the mic) surrounded by teenage fans in the parking lot of Scrivner’s Drive-in at Sunset and Chauenga.  


Historical Notes

The runaway popularity of the Scrivner’s broadcasts created traffic jams around the drive-in.



Scrivner's Drive-in (Imperial Hwy and Western Ave)

(ca. 1952)#+ – Scrivner’s Drive-In, on the corner of Imperial Hwy and Western Ave.  Back of Photo reads: "Scrivners, where I spent all my time from 1952 on."  


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Carl's at the Beach Drive-in

(1940s)^^#* – View showing cars parked in front of Carl's Drive-in Restaurant located at the Sea Air Lodge complex (aka Carl's at the Beach) on the Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades.  


Historical Notes

Designed in 1938 by two prominent Los Angeles architects, Burton Alexander Schutt and A. Quincy Jones, Carl’s Drive-in was part of a 12-room motel (Carl's at the Beach) that offered a full range of services--from restaurant to gas station to garage space--for Americans beginning their love affair with the car and the open road.^

It was located across the street from the landmark Pacific Palisades Lighthouse, Bathhouse, and Restaurant.


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Herbert's Drive-in (Beverly and Fairfax, SE Corner)

(ca. 1940)* - The exterior of Herbert's Drive-In is built so that customers in cars can park all around it. Waiters/waitresses are seen serving food for people to eat in their cars. It was located at the southeast corner of Beverly Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue. Gilmore Stadium is in view behind the restaurant, on the left.  


Historical Notes

L.A. restauranteur Sydney Hoedemaker opened Herbert's Drive-In in the early 1930s. It was designed by architect Wayne McAllister in circular Streamline Moderne style with a neon-ringed roofline and advertising pylon.*



(ca. 1945)##+ – View looking at the southeast corner of Fairfax and Beverly showing Herbert’s Drive-in restaurant.  Three carhops are seen standing at center-left.  Gilmore Stadium can be seen in the distance (on the right).  


Historical Notes

Today, CBS Television City (built in 1952) stands at this site. Click HERE to see contemporary view.



(1945)^^^^ – View of Herbert's Drive-in, located on the southeast corner of Beverly and Fairfax.  Photo by Nina Leen  


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Melody Lane Drive-in (Wilshire and Western, SW Corner)

(ca. 1940s)* - Aerial view showing Melody Lane Drive-in located on the southwest corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue. Cars are parked around the circular coffee shop area, as well as in the large parking lot at bottom and at above left. The vertical Melody Lane sign is visible on top of building at right.  


Historical Notes

Architect Wayne McAllister designed the Melody Lane, at Wilshire and Western, for restaurateur Sidney Hoedemaker for who he had designed several Herbert’s drive-ins.  Besides car service and the familiar circular drive-in, Melody Lane included a dining room, coffee shop, and cocktail lounge in a complex that flowed off the drive-in. #^



(1940s)* – View showing the entrance to the Starlite Room cocktail lounge which is attached to the Melody Lane Drive-in seen in the background. Cars are parked under the McCallister-designed circular canopy with vertical Melody Lane sign extending up from its roof.  


Historical Notes

The Starlite Room cocktail lounge revaled the the sophistication of McAllister’s dinner house designs, with a zodia-themed motif featuring clocked silk-rayon wall coverings and peach-colored mirrors. #^


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Roberts Drive-in (Burbank)

(ca. 1948) * – View showing cars parked at Roberts Drive-in Restaurant at Olive Avenue and Victory Boulevard in Burbank  


Historical Notes

Wayne McAllister was the architect of this circular, Streamline Moderne drive-in. It has a neon-trimmed roofline and advertising pylon and neon rings around the underside/overhang of the roof. A whimsical ball and neon detail are on top of the pylon.



(1940)^** – Atmospheric shot of the Roberts Drive-in diner in Burbank located on the corner of Olive Ave and Victory Blvd.  


Historical Notes

Roberts Drive-in became Van De Kamps in 1968 and later Biff Naylor’s Gristmill in 1979. (Biff Naylor is the son of noted California restaurateur Tiny Naylor and purchased the Du-par’s chain in 2004.) ^**


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Gwinn’s Coffee Shop and Drive-in

(ca. 1947)^^* – View showing Gwinn’s Coffee Shop and Drive-in located at 2915 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena.  


Historical Notes

Gwinn’s Drive-in was designed by Harold J. Bissner and Harold B. Zook circa 1947.




(ca. 1947)^v^ – Postcard view showing two cars are being attended to at Gwinn’s Coffee Shop and Drive-in located in Pasadena.  




(ca. 1947)**# – Gwinn’s Coffee Shop and Drive-in, 2915 E. Colorado Blvd. (U. S. 66) Pasadena.  


Historical Notes

Gwinn's Drive-in was demolished around 1992.


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Tam O' Shanter (Los Feliz and Boyce, SE Corner)

(1930)##^* – View looking toward the southeast corner of Los Feliz Boulevard and Boyce Avenue showing the Tam O’ Shanter, advertising Malted Milk for 15 cents. Full car service can be seen at center-left, next to the umbrella. Although it is not Art Deco, the Tam O' Shanter is historically significant since it is considered to be one of the first drive-in restaurants in LA.  


Historical Notes

June 26th, 1922, Lawrence L. Frank and Water Van de Kamp opened the Tam O’Shanter Restaurant in Atwater Village with the distinctive Storybook-style architecture of Hollywood set designer Harry Oliver.

The Tam O’ Shanter soon became one of the nation’s first drive-ins with special wooden trays that enabled guests to dine in their cars. They called it 'Car Service de luxe'.



(1930s)*## – View showing four people enjoying a tray-served meal inside their car at Tam O’ Shanter.  


Historical Notes

From a 1933 advertisement of the newly remodelled Tam o’ Shanter and its drive-in service:

“We are happy to welcome you to our remodeled Tam o’ Shanter Inn.  Important among the changes made, is the re-establishment of Car Service de luxe – a feature which we originated eight years ago.  Ingenious tables installed in your car, enable you to sit and eat in the comfort and privace of your own automobile…”

Click HERE to see more Early Views of the Tam O' Shanter.


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Pig Stand Drive-in (Sunset and Vine, SE Corner)

(ca. 1931)* - Night view of Pig Stand Drive-in restaurant on the SE corner of Sunset and Vine. Across the street (NE corner of Sunset and Vine) can be seen the neon sign for Carpenter's Drive-in. Also seen in the distance is the Broadway-Hollywood sign (located on the SW corner of Hollywood and Vine).


Historical Notes

We didn't quite invent the drive-in restaurant in Los Angeles -- the Pig Stand in Dallas beat us by a year -- but we did do more than anyone to perfect the concept and ensure its spread. After all, we were living in the most car-oriented part of the country, and we did set the standard for what was cool.^^#

A Dallas entrepreneur named Jessie G. Kirby built the first Pig Stand along a Dallas-Fort Worth Highway in October 1921. It was a hit with hungry drivers, and soon it became a chain. (The slogan: "America's Motor Lunch.") Kirby and his partners made one of the first franchising arrangements in restaurant history, and Pig Stands began cropping up everywhere. By 1934, there were more than 130 Pig Stands in nine states. (Most were in California and Florida.) Meanwhile, the chain kept innovating. Many people say that California's Pig Stand No. 21 became the first drive through restaurant in the world in 1931, and food historians believe that Pig Stand cooks invented deep-fried onion rings and chicken-fried steak sandwiches.

Wartime gasoline and food rationing hit the Pig Stands hard, and after the war they struggled to compete with newer, flashier drive-ins. By the end of the 1950s, all of the franchises outside of Texas had closed. By 2005, even the Texas Pig Stands were struggling to survive—only six remained in the whole state—and by the next year they had all disappeared.*##



(ca. 1931)* - View showing carhops and customers posing for the camera front of Pig Stand drive-in restaurant. The drive-in was located on the southeast corner of Sunset and Vine. By 1938, this site would become home to Harry Carpenter's Drive-in.  


Historical Notes

Between 1931 and 1961, three different drive-in restaurants occupied the southeast corner of Sunset and Vine:
•    1931 the Pig Stand BBQ Sandwich Drive-in restaurant goes up.
•    1937 Sept. Carpenter’s demolishes their existing building across the street, builds a new Carpenter's Drive-in here
•    1951 Carpenter’s becomes a Stan's Drive-in
•    1961 Drive-in demolished for 20-story Sunset Vine Tower


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Brown Derby Restaurant and Car Cafe

(ca. 1940)##** - View looking toward the southwest corner of Los Feliz and Hillhurst showing the The Brown Derby and Car Cafe (previously Willard's Restaurant).  



Historical Notes

In 1940, Willard's Chicken Inn Restaurant was purchased by legendary director Cecil B. DeMille who brought in the Brown Derby fine dining and 24-hour car service in keeping with the drive-in restaurant fad of the era. At the time, DeMille was also part owner of the Wilshire Brown Derby.




(ca. 1947)#**# – View looking northeast from the parking lot of the Los Feliz Brown Derby showing the circular drive-in component of the restaurant with its neon lights.  This was the only drive-in of the four Brown Derby’s restaurants.  The building is still there, and still a restaurant, which is more than can be said for the other Brown Derby locations.   


Historical Notes

This was the last of the four Brown Derby Restaurants to open around Los Angeles; the first was located on Wilshire across from the Ambassador Hotel; the second opened in 1929 in Hollywood , the third in Beverly Hills on Wilshire Boulevard in 1931. It was the only one of the the four with a "Car Cafe".

Click HERE to see more Early Views of LA Drive-in Restaurants.




(ca. 1950)*^ - Postcard view showing the Brown Derby Restaurant and Car Cafe located at 4500 Los Feliz Boulevard.  


Historical Notes

In 1960, the Brown Derby was purchased by actor Michael St. Angel (aka Steve Flagg) and became Michaels of Los Feliz, and in 1992, it was transformed into a nightclub known as The Derby. In the late 1990s, it became one of the centers of the resurgence of swing dancing, which launched the careers of modern swing bands such as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Johnny Crawford. Oregon rock/swing/ska band the Cherry Poppin' Daddies recorded a song that cites the venue, titled "Brown Derby Jump", on their album Zoot Suit Riot.

In June 2004, when Hillhurst/Los Feliz LLC purchased The Derby and adjacent lots with a view to demolition and replacement by a condominium complex, the planned redevelopment became a cause celebre for historic preservation activists. An independent coalition called "Save The Derby" fought to prevent the demolition, and, on May 19, 2006, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to designate the entire structure an official Historic Cultural Monument of the City of Los Angeles.

In January 2009, the nightclub closed its doors. The current landlord chose not to renew the lease, not long after a shooting inside the club. The Los Feliz Brown Derby space is partially occupied by the gastropub Mess Hall Kitchen and a Chase bank, dividing the dome in half between the businesses.*^

Click HERE for contemporary view.


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Van de Kamp's Drive-in (Fletcher Dr. and San Fernando Rd.)

(ca. 1945)* - Daytime view showing Van de Kamp's Bakery and Coffee Shop with Drive-in service, located on the corner of Fletcher Drive and San Fernando Road in Atwater. Numerous cars are parked at the drive-in and other business and product signs are visible in the background: Knudsen's, Coca Cola and Carnation ice cream.  


Historical Notes

Van de Kamp's Holland Dutch Bakeries was a bakery founded in 1915 and headquartered in the Van de Kamp Bakery Building in Los Angeles. The company's trademark blue windmills featured on their grocery store signs and atop their chain of famous restaurants that were known throughout the region.*^

The above Van de Kamp's Drive-in stood adjacent to the Van de Kamp's Bakery Headquarters on Fletcher Drive.




(ca. 1954)* - Van de Kamp's Bakery and Coffee Shop with Drive-In service, seen here at night with a row of cars parked around the lighted building, located on the corner of Fletcher Drive and San Fernando Road in Atwater. Its architect was Wayne McAllister, using Streamline Moderne style with neon trimmed rooflines and pylon. Today, an El Pollo Loco is located where Van de Kamp's Drive-in once stood. Click HERE for contemporary view.  


Historical Notes

Van de Kamp's Holland Dutch Bakeries was sold by the Van de Kamp family and acquired by General Baking Co. in 1956. The company was sold to private investors in 1979, and closed in bankruptcy in 1990. The Van de Kamp's brand is now owned by Ralphs supermarket chain and used for their line of private-label baked goods.*^


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"The Track" Drive-in (Beverly and La Jolla, SW Corner)

(1949)+## – View showing The Track Drive-in which utilized a horizontal dumbwaiter to serve the food. The restaurant was located at 8201 Beverly Boulevard (SW corner of Beverly Blvd and La Jolla Ave). Large sign above window reads:  NO TIPPING  


Historical Notes

Patented by Kenneth C. Purdy in 1948, the Motormat was designed to eliminate the need for carhops to take your order and deliver your food by having everything done via conveyor belt. The Track Drive-in Restaurant, originally at 8201 Beverly Boulevard, had 20 stalls utilizing this technology that were arranged around the central building like the spokes on a wheel. A metal bin on a conveyor belt served as the waiter, busboy, and server. +##



(1951)##* – View showing a woman sitting in a convertible at Track Drive-in waiting for her meal to be delivered in a bin on a conveyor belt.  Writing on bin reads:  BUSHER  


Historical Notes

A customer would drive up to a window-high bin, mounted on rails, containing glasses of water, menu, pencil, and pad. He or she would then fill out the order, push a button, and send the bin scooting back to the kitchen, which lay at the center of the circular structure. While the order was being prepared, the bin would be sent back with the bill. After the bin was returned with payment, the food and change would be sent back down the rails, with no need to tip a waitress. +##


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(1949)**^ – View showing an early Los Angeles drive-in restaurant.  



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Stan's Drive-in (Beverly and La Brea, NW Corner)

(ca. 1952)##^* – View showing Stan’s Drive-in Restaurant located on the NW corner of Beverly Blvd. and La Brea Ave.  


Historical Notes

Stan's was a chain of drive-in's with at least a dozen LA locations built in the late 1950's and 60's.



Stan's Drive-in (Sunset and Highland, SE Corner)

(1958)^^*** - View showing Stan’s Drive-in Coffee Shop on the SE corner of Sunset and Highland, 6760 Sunset Blvd, across from Hollywood High School and Currie’s ice cream.  


Historical Notes

Previously, the southeast corner of Sunset and Highland was the site of Simon’s Drive-in…one of two Simon’s on Sunset for a few years (since 1938). As of December 1951, Simon’s became a Stan’s drive-in. Since Stan’s took over the Carpenter’s at Vine that same year, there were now 2 Stan’s on Sunset. Stan’s stood on the SE corner as seen above until 1971 when it was demolished. Today, a Chick-fil-A is at the corner. Click HERE to see contemporary view.



Stan's Drive-in (East Hollywood)

(1950s)##^* – View showing a woman drinking a soda while leaning on a street sign post with a Stan’s Drive-in seen in the background on the 4400 block of Sunset Blvd (SE corner of Sunset and Virgil Ave, across the street from the Vista Theatre). Click HERE for contemporary view.  





(1955)^v^ - A shot of the Vista Theatre from inside Stan's Drive-in seen in "The Crooked Web" (Columbia, 1955). Thanks to Jonathan Raines for the screenshot. Click HERE for contemporary view.  



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Tiny Naylor's Restaurant and Drive-in (Sunset and La Brea, NW Corner)

(1949)* - View of several customers parked at Tiny Naylor's Restaurant and Drive-in, located on the northwest corner of Sunset and La Brea. This is the same corner where McDonnell's Drive-in once stood in the 1930s and early 1940s.  


Historical Notes

Tiny Naylors was one of California's original family-style restaurants founded by W.W. "Tiny" Naylor. Naylor got the nick name "Tiny" because he was 6'4" and weighted 320 lbs. #^**



(1952)*# – View showing a couple in an MG being served at Tiny Naylors.  Photo by Julius Shulman  


Historical Notes

Although Tiny Naylor was best known for his Tiny Naylors restaurant chains, his first restaurant was Biff's – named after his son, in 1948.  It was located on the corner of Cahuenga and Yucca in Hollywood.

Tiny Naylor died in 1959. The Naylor family purchased Du Par's in 2004, which it still owns and operates. Du-par's expanded in 2009 to include several locations from the bankrupt Bakers Square chain.*^




(1950s)^#^^ – Close-up view looking at the northwest corner of Sunset and La Brea showing Tiny Naylors and homes that still stood on the west side of La Brea.  The house in the background is now a strip mall.  





(1980)* - Night view of Tiny Naylor's Restaurant , located at Sunset Boulevard (left) and La Brea Avenue (foreground). Photo by Roy Hankey  


Historical Notes

Designed by Douglas Honnold in 1949, this establishment remained open until 1984 when it was demolished to make room for a shopping center. Today an El Pollo Loco stands at the corner.*


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Bob's Big Boy Drive-in and Restaurant (4211 W. Riverside Drive, Burbank)

(ca. 1949)*** – View showing Bob’s Big Boy Drive-in restaurant located on the corner of Riverside Drive and N. Rose Street in Burbank.  


Historical Notes

Bob's Big Boy restaurant chain was founded by Bob Wian in Southern California in 1936, originally named Bob's Pantry.

The chain is best known for its trademark chubby boy in red-and-white checkered overalls holding a Big Boy sandwich (double-decker cheeseburger). The inspiration for Big Boy's name, as well as the model for its mascot, was Richard Woodruff (1936–1986), of Glendale, California. When he was six years old, he walked into the diner Bob's Pantry as Bob Wian was attempting to name his new hamburger. Wian said, "Hello, Big Boy" to Woodruff, and the name stuck.*^



(ca. 1949)*** – Night view showing a very croweded Bob’s Big Boy Drive-in, located at 4211 W. Riverside Drive in Burbank.   


Historical Notes

This Bob's restaurant was built in 1949 by local residents Scott MacDonald and Ward Albert, and is the oldest remaining BOB'S BIG BOY in America. It was designed by renowned architect Wayne McAllister, incorporating the 1940's transitional design of streamline modern style while anticipating the free-form 50's coffee shop architecture. The towering BOB's sign is an integral part of the building  design and its most prominent feature. ^#



(ca. 1949)*** - Close-up view showing a carhop serving two customers sitting in an early model roadster.  




  (ca. 1955)**^ - Debbie Reynolds and her 1955 T-Bird at Bob's Big Boy Drive-in.


Historical Notes

The restaurant was honored in 1993, receiving the designation as a "STATE POINT OF HISTORICAL INTEREST" by the State of California. The current owner (the MacDonald Family) acquired control of the restaurant in 1993 and began to restore it to its past glory. ^#

Click HERE to see contemporary view.


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(1960s)##^* - Batman and Catwoman stop at the drive-in diner for quick energy before they go off on a new adventure.  




(n.d.)**^ - I'll have a hamburger, fries, and a Coke…..now that’s the way I like it!  




(1950s)*** - Wow! Look at those salt and pepper shakers.  



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References and Credits

* LA Public Library Image Archive

^ LADWP Historic Archive

** DWP - LA Public Library Image Archive

^* Oviatt Library Digital Archives

*^ Wikipedia

^^ USC Digital Library

+# UCLA Digital Archive

#* Flickr.com: Michael Ryerson

*# Skyscraperpage.com: Tiny Naylors

^# Bob's Big Boy History

#^ Googie Redux: Ultramodern Roadside Architecture

++ History of Diners and Drive-ins

#+ Flickr.com: Scrivner's Drive-in


^^*Diner Hunter: Guinn's Coffee Shop and Drive-in

^^^Tropics of Metta: Art Laboe's Charmed Life on the Air

^x^South Bay Daily Breeze: Patmar's Drive-in Restaurant

^*#California State Library Image Archive

*##History.com: Pig Stands

^##This Moderne Life: Simon's Drive-In

++^Coolculinaria.com: Mcdonnell's Drive-in

***Facebook.com: Bob's Big Boy

**^Pinterest.com: 1949 Drive-in Restaurant; Food Tray; Bob's Big Boy

**#Eating L.A. - Guinn's Coffee Shop and Drive-in

*#*Historic Los Angeles: Wilshire Boulevard

*^^Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles: losangelespast.com

^^#LA Times: 'Swing in, pig out, drive off'

#++Getty Images

##+Pinterest.com: Diner Style; Herbert's Drive-in

##*DailyMail.com: Glory Days of Drive-in Movies and Restaurants

*##RolandCommunications.com: Tam O'Shanter

+##LAIST: The Track Drive-in Restaurant

+#+Facebook.com: Garden of Allah Novels, Martin Turnbull

^^#*Huntington Digital Library Archive

*^^*Los Angeles: Portrait of a City


#*#*LA Curbed - Scrivner's Drive-in

#^**The Go Go's: Local Coffee Shops and Diners

^#^^Facebook.com - Vintage LA: Tiny Naylors

##**MartinTurnbull.com: Simon's Drive-in ; Willard's; Brown Derby

##^*Facebook.com: Classic Hollywood-Los Angeles-SFV

#**#Facebook.com: Garden of Allah Novels, Martin Turnbull

^^***Pinterest.com: Diners

^^^^*Pinterest.com: Tinseltown




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