From the journey to the meal, the car is increasingly a second home: 100 years since the first “drive-in” restaurant

Cars News

In 2021, with a pandemic raging all over the world, the car is no longer just a means of transport but also a refuge, and it has now become the norm to use it not only to move but also to see a movie, eat, and – today – take tests to diagnose the coronavirus.

In short, the word “drive-in” has become a permanent part of the daily lexicon, but few know that the first drive-in restaurant in history turns 100 this year. Kirby’s Pig Stand in fact opened in Dallas in the now distant 1921, forerunner of modern restaurant chains, a place that marked a real revolution in the concept of meals.

The idea was Jessie G. Kirby and Reuben Jackson, who imagined (and built) a structure with a red-tiled pagoda roof placed on a rectangular building composed of wood and stucco: customers could arrive by car and order specialties like fried chicken steak sandwiches, fried onion rings, milkshakes, pork sandwiches, and Texan toast.

The formula was incredibly successful and revolutionized the way people eat meals, first in the US and then in the rest of the world. Today the brand has gone bankrupt and there are no more restaurants in the American chain, but Kirby’s Pig Stand still lives in the many brands that have wanted to invest in the drive-in. For example, McDonald’s, which in 2021 celebrates the first Italian “McDrive”: it was 1996, and in Rome, in the Magliana district, a point of the famous fast food chain opened which could be accessed by car, ordering employees and then withdrawing the bag directly from their hands a few minutes later.

Today McDonald’s has around 389 McDrives in 325 cities across Italy, which served almost 34 million cars in 2020, around 3 million cars a month. And the coronavirus pandemic has given a decisive hand to boost orders, which have gone from 28% in 2019 to 41% in 2020.

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