The 1950s Food Trend That's Making A Big Comeback

While there are a lot of things to not be nostalgic for from the 1950s (like segregation and aspic), one trend from the era is making a comeback and we honestly couldn't be more excited. According to CNN, many restaurants are reviving the carhop as a way to draw in more customers to dine safely at their establishments. NBC New York describes carhop dining as a drive-in restaurant experience where waiters — sometimes on roller skates — serve you from the safety and semi-comfort of your very own car. They even have special trays that attach to your window so you don't have to eat off your lap.

CNN states that carhop dining became popular during the late-1940s, in tandem with wider accessibility to automobiles. Sadly for the roller skate-clad servers, most restaurants decided to end carhop service in the 1960s and stick to standard indoor dining; that is until this year, when the coronavirus pandemic struck the United States and indoor dining was banned in many places.

Restaurants throughout the United States have decided to begin offering carhop service

Colton Weiss, the owner of Mel's Drive In in California, said they decided to reinstate carhop service after noticing that diners were wary of entering the restaurant to pick up food. Weiss also told the outlet that they felt the service was a much needed dose of nostalgia which allows them to bring the "Mel's Drive In experience" back for their loyal customers.

Mel's Drive In is not the only restaurant getting in on the carhop action. Earlier this month, we reported on Steak 'n Shake beginning to offer carhop service (and of course, Sonic is still going strong with their carhops as well). CNN also lists older businesses that historically had carhop service reviving the practice, such as Bob's Big Boy in California, Little Anthony's Diner in Arizona, and the Historic Steer-In in Indiana; as well as newer, smaller businesses trying the trend on for size, like JT's Diner in Ohio, Brownstone Pancake Factory in New Jersey, and Broadway Diner in Wisconsin. 

What's old is new again for some restaurants

Bobby Bournias, the owner of Brownstone Pancake Factory in New Jersey, told CNN that their carhop drive-in service saved the restaurant from closing, a fate unfortunately met by many other local restaurants. Bournias said that, in April of this year, he started noticing customers getting to-go orders and sitting in the parking lot to eat in their cars instead of taking the food home. The choice to eat in their cars reminded him of old movies he watched, and he immediately went online to search for carhop trays.

In addition to the newcomers to the trend and the businesses who have decided to restart the practice, CNN says that the handful of restaurants who had still offered carhop service before the pandemic hit saw an increase in business over the past few months. Offering more accessibility to diners, this is one 1950s trend we hope returns for good.