Bob's Big Boy in Burbank, Mel's Drive-In locations bring back carhop service as coronavirus shuts dining rooms

People can't go to their favorite restaurant these days and dine in, but many may be tired of always eating at home. One solution? Car hop service! The classic Bob's Big Boy in Burbank has brought it back.

"We remembered it from back when he used to come as a kid, to this one in fact. We can enjoy being out. It's nice to get out. Has a touch of nostalgia to it also," said Gabby Breard and her husband Kevin. They drove to the eatery with their two kids from Chatsworth to experience an in-car meal.

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Fortunately, the area where this Bob's started offering car hop service in 1949 is still there. You now order from the more recently built drive-up window, park under the awning, and wait for your tray to be brought by a server.

"It's great because you're social distancing. Your family is in the car, you know, kind of away from everybody else," said Kevin Cornell. He drove to the location from Santa Monica with his wife and kids to experience the retro dining experience for the first time.

Most people today have never experienced old school drive-in dining like this, as it went out of fashion decades ago. But many are aware of it thanks to TV shows and movies, depicting life in the 1950s and '60s. This includes "Happy Days" on television and movies like "American Graffiti" and "Hollywood Knights." The drive-in restaurant was a big part of car culture, restaurant culture, social culture and of course the culture of courtship.

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When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Elias Produce's business dropped by 90%, so they had make some changes in order to stay afloat.

And it's not just Bob's now doing this. Retro-themed Mel's Drive-In locations are living up to their name doing car hop service, too. You park, then phone in your order or use their website, and your meal is brought to your car. A perfect way to dine, while keeping a safe distance from others.

"We can be socially distant, we can be with our group, and you know, we can enjoy being out," Breard said from the comfort of her family's minivan.

And while the fictional Richie, Fonzie, Ralph and Potsie were able hang closer together back their era on "Happy Days," we have one advantage today. They never had free Wi-Fi at their drive-ins, prominently noted on the window of Mel's Drive-In in West Hollywood.
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