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Carhop (1950s)

A common sight in Dallas, Texas in 1921 were automobiles. And more seemed to be on the roads every day. Two men, businessman J.G. Kirby and physician R.W. Jackson, had a bright idea: many drivers didn’t want to get out of the cars to eat, so they opened a restaurant named The Pig Stand where waitresses came to you to take your order while you remained in your car. A&W claim they opened the first carhop in 1923, but their carhop was not the very first. Carhops usually have wait staff that roll up to your vehicle via roller skates, but some walk up.

The term carhop came from the practice of the wait staff jumping up on the running board of the patron’s car as it rolled into the parking lot.

There are a few carhops still in business. Most are locally owned in small towns. The best known fast-food chain to use carhops is Sonic Drive-In, which has some 3,400 restaurants. Other chains are Dog n Suds, Stewart’s Restaurants and Swensons. A&W also retain numerous drive-in restaurants.