Most neighborhoods had their locally run mom-n-pop drive ins.
In Kailua, we had 2 – Andy’s Drive In and Kailua Drive In aka KDI. I never did care for Andy’s too much, but KDI was the place that we used to go. I remember when their hamburgers were 25¢ each or 5 for $1. And when I was working at Windward Volkswagen, the salesmen used to have me make a Saturday morning run there. Sometimes it was their bacon and egg sandwich or grilled cheese sandwich, but the best was their Portuguese Burger. It was a huge round Portuguese sausage patty – the size of a hamburger – tucked in a hamburger bun with only mayonnaise.
And their chop steak was ono too!
Eventually, the owner of KDI built a lounge connected to it and named it the Red Carpet lounge. And at the same time, changed the name from Kailua Drive In to RC Drive In (RC for Red Carpet). But we still referred to it as KDI.
When Holiday Mart opened up, along came A&W Drive In. Of course, I had to order an A&W root beer with their burgers, but something about their food just wasn’t “local”, being a mainland chain. It didn’t last too long in Kailua.
I remember a couple other drive ins in Kailua Shopping Center. There was a place called Quickies that made awesome french fries. They were skinny kine fries and really crispy. Our dentist was located upstairs of Quickies so as a treat, my mom used to take us there after our dentist appointment for a bag of fries.
And the other drive in in Kailua Shopping Center was located right next to Times market. I can’t remember the name of that place, but it was more like a Dairy Queen drive in – that sold ice cream sundaes, shakes, cones, and stuff. And some onolicious teri-burgers.
Then we I got my drivers license, that opened us up to a whole slew of drive ins around town.
I remember a place in Kapahulu called The Dog House. It was located just across the side street next to Leonard’s Bakery. It was a gray colored, tiny little A-framed house that we used to go eat at after surfing at Diamond Head cliffs. That was before we knew about Rainbow Drive In.
Then we learned about KC Drive In when it was where Ala Wai boulevard met up with Kalakaua avenue. Funny, whenever we went to KC Drive In, we always did the car-hop thing. We used to see people walk in to the restaurant part to eat, but we never went in there. I think we just enjoyed turning on our car’s parking lights on to get the waitress to come to service us. But it was the pits when it started raining.
Anyone remember Diners Drive In on Keeaumoku? We used to go there sometimes when I was attending Kapiolani Community College (for all you youngsters, KCC used to be on Pensacola street next to McKinley High School).
And when I was working at Servco in Mapunapuna, it was Jumbo’s Drive In which had some awesome fried chicken drumettes/wings plate.
And just one more – when my dad used to take us to visit our grandma in Kalihi, once in a while he’d stop by Kenny’s Burger House. They were one of the few places that sold a large order of french fries. It came in a rectangle paper dish – like the kind that hot dogs are served on – filled to the brim with french fries, all tucked nicely in a white paper sleeve. Those french fries used to last me the whole ride back from Kalihi to Kailua.
What were some of the neighborhood mom-n-pop drive ins that you remember? What was your favorite thing to order there? Milk shakes? Malts? Shrimp burger? Oyster burger? Saimin? Green river? Orange freeze? Gravy & rice?