Step back in time to the golden days of rock ‘n’ roll, James Dean and T-birds as Paul’s Motor Inn revives its diner drive-in every weekend this summer.
Paul’s Drive-In (1900 Douglas St.) features the ambience of a ’50s night out, as carhops serve classics like burgers and fries, ice cream floats and banana splits.
Paul’s original diner opened in 1952 with a drive-in on the north side of the building. It lasted until 1972 when the restaurant was renovated, the drive-in was closed, and the motel and lounge were added.
Michael King, general manager of Paul’s Motor Inn, likes the simplicity of the idea.
“You park, turn your lights on, and the carhop comes out and takes your order, then brings your food out to the car on a hanging tray,” he says.
King decided to revive the drive-in experience last summer to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the diner and 40th anniversary of the motel. The event was such a success, organizers felt compelled to bring it back for another summer.
“People just loved it last year,” he says. “We got a lot of response from grandparents who brought in their grandchildren to show them what a drive-in was like back in the day.
“Young people are coming in who’ve never heard of it. They’re slack jawed when the food (tray) is set on their window.”
The menu also includes fish and chips, BLTs, turkey club sandwiches and a unique take on the taquito.
The only tradition missing from this fun night out is rollerskating carhops (a no-no by current insurance standards; how times have changed).
“It’s a lot of new business, though some of the drive-in customers are people who came here during the restaurant’s heyday when it ran 24/7,” King says.
The drive-in is open through August, Fridays from 4 to 10 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tale of the tray
Paul’s carhop trays come from O’Tray in Broken Arrow, Okla.
Says Paul’s manager Michael King: “O’Tray is the only place I could find that manufactures them. They also make the custom trays for the U.S. chain Sonic Drive-In.”