The coronavirus pandemic has affected all industries, including restaurant businesses. While everyone is trying to figure out the ‘new normal,’ restaurants are banking on a 1950s dining trend to reel their customers back in.
19th century saw the earliest carhops when young boys were employed to deliver food orders to patrons in cars. It was only in the 1930s that waitresses on skates became extremely popular.
Bignai/shutterstock: Drive-ins are again a thing!
Unlike a drive-thru where you take your order to go, a drive-in lets customers park right there. Waiters and waitresses called carhops would attach a tray to the car window and deliver your order.
Their popularity began to decrease in the 1960s when drive-thrus took over, and they became just a memory. Thanks to the pandemic, carhops are making a major comeback and how.
This dining style has always been maintained by Sonic, making them a favorite during recent times.
In fact, their business has grown exponentially since mid-March. According to Aaron Allen, a food industry expert, it’s time for restaurants to think of innovative ways to bring back customers. Sonic’s vintage dine-in model may help do just that.
Brett Hondow/shutterstock: Drive-ins during COVID-19
According to Allen, 10 to 20% of restaurants will not survive the pandemic, and the ones that do will have to reinvent themselves completely. Methods like Burger King’s large ‘social-distancing crowns’ have helped to an extent, but more viable solutions are needed in the long run.
Fast-food chains are doing fine, but most dine-in places will have to draw inspiration from the past.
In a post-COVID world, Allen thinks restaurants will have to look at carhops, vending machines, and curbside pickup. Many restaurants are already emulating Sonic. OMG Burgers and Brew, in New Jersey, started as a traditional sit-down restaurant, but now, they are trying the dine-in model and succeeding.
Brownstone Pancake Factory in New Jersey also debuted its carhop service recently. One can go there for delicious breakfast milkshakes and pancakes.
QualityHD/shutterstock: Eating takeouts in the car
Further south in California, Mad Madeline’s is offering trays so patrons can eat their takeout in the car before the food gets cold. Bob’s Big Boy Diner in Burbank is another place that is now offering the carhop service.
This nostalgic trend is also attracting older customers who just want to take a walk down memory lane. Sales are going back up, and the best part is people get to keep their jobs!
The world today is all about adapting to new challenges, even if that means going back in time to a much-loved American dining experience. The carhop trend may be here to stay!