Just before Christmas, the original facade for the Donut Drive-In along Route 66 in St. Louis was restored for the first time in decades with the help of a federal grant.
The building at 6525 Chippewa St. (aka Route 66) now sports backlit Plexiglas panels on three sides with lettering from the same style as when the doughnut shop opened in 1952.
According to the news release:
These box signs on the building façade had been changed to very undistinguished, generic upper case letters sometime back in the 1980’s; but now the original script font has been revived, concurrent with new internal electronics that will keep them brightly lit. Recurring sign outages had become a problem for the last couple years.
This renaissance was made possible by a 2016 National Park Service cost share grant through its Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. The grant application and restoration of these Plexiglas signs were facilitated by the Missouri 66 Association’s Neon Heritage Preservation Committee (“NHPC”), even though no neon was involved, because of the relationship established between the Donut Drive-In owners and the NHPC back in 2008, when their neon sign became the very first project for the NHPC. The beautiful neon sign still glows brightly and steadily on Chippewa Street, with its alluring animation of donuts seemingly dropping down a pole.
According to earlier reporting, the Donut Drive-In received a $6,300 matching grant for the exterior-sign renovations.
Here’s a short video I shot at Donut Drive-In on Christmas Eve a few years ago during a snowstorm:
That part of Chippewa Street long has been known for delectable sweets. Ted Drewes Frozen Custard sits less than a half-mile west of Donut Drive-In.
(Image of the new exterior signs at Donut Drive-In courtesy of Jim Thole)