Route 66 News

So who had the first drive-thru restaurant?

This story from The Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, Pa., delves into the history of drive-throughs, which has squirreled its way into American life from drugstores to liquor stores to restaurants to banks to even funeral homes.

As for drive-through restaurants, it’s claimed that Red Chaney at the famous Red’s Giant Hamburg on Route 66 in Springfield, Mo., developed his drive-through window in 1947. Maid-Rite, a loose-meat sandwich chain that I admit fondness for, claims it developed the first drive-through in 1948.

If the dates are to be believed, Red’s wins the battle of the first drive-through.

Alas, Chaney retired in 1984 and the building was removed about a decade later. Chaney died in 1997, and his wife and longtime partner Julia died in 2006.

Strangely enough, the thing that best captures the atmosphere of Red’s Giant Hamburg turns out to be a music video. The Morells, a rock band based in Springfield, shot this musical tribute, “Red’s,” in 1982:

5 thoughts on “So who had the first drive-thru restaurant?

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  5. Tim Hoffman

    Sorry, my father in law had a drive thru window at his hamburger restaurant in Lansing Michigan by 1934. I have photographic proof. Bunny Hamburgers.
    [email protected] if you like to see proof.

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