Monday, May 03, 2010
At the Carhop
One thing I've never had the pleasure of doing is eating at a carhop. In fact, I don't ever recall a notable one existing in the Boston area by the time the 70s and 80s came along (although I'm sure at least one reader will let me know if that wasn't the case.) Carhops started popping up in the 30s as a dining response to a new automotive world and had taken off by the 50s. At carhops, you'd pull your vehicle up to a designated parking spot and never got out of it. Waitresses, usually on rollerskates, would take your order and bring you your food. If you've seen the movie American Graffiti, a carhop is featured prominently in the film.
Considering how sedentary our society has become, it's surprising that carhops peetered out over the past 30 years. Now two restaurant chains, Ruby's Drive-In and Sonic Drive-In, are bringing back the carhop atmosphere and putting their servers on rollerskates. Both chains are hoping the retro twist will attract diners away from McDonald's and the usual fast food chains.
It's a great idea, and I hope one opens in my area soon. In the meantime, here's a collection of vintage photos of original carhops. And if you have fond memories of visiting one, I'd love to hear about them.
I love that this photo shows that not all of the skating servers were girls. Why should male customers have all of the fun and eye candy?
This one's from 1945...a little more modesty because of the trousers.