Some more drive-in restaurant images and info

As seen in the Boston Globe today

Wilber Hardee, 89; founded hamburger stand franchise

By Dennis Hevesi, New York Times News Service / June 27, 2008

NEW YORK – Wilber Hardee, a farm boy-turned-grill cook who opened the first Hardee’s hamburger stand in 1960, starting a chain that now has nearly 2,000 restaurants in the United States and overseas, died June 20 at his home in Greenville, N.C. He was 89.
The cause was a heart attack, his daughter Ann Hardee Riggs said.
It was on an empty lot in Greenville, near East Carolina College (now a university), that Mr. Hardee opened that first hamburger stand on Sept. 3, 1960. There was no dining room, no drive-up window. Charcoal-broiled hamburgers and milkshakes sold for 15 cents apiece.
There are now 1,926 Hardee’s restaurants, mostly in the Southeast and the Midwest, most of them franchises of CKE Restaurants, which bought the Hardee’s chain in 1997. Last year, the Hardee’s division, which specializes in Thickburgers weighing from one-third to two-thirds of a pound and costing up to $4.49, reported revenue of $1.8 billion.
Although he would hold an interest in more than 80 other restaurants during his career, Mr. Hardee did not make much of a profit as founder of the chain that bears his name. He sold his share in what was then a five-franchise operation in 1963, for $37,000. “Back in the ’60s, it was pretty good money,” his daughter said, “but not that much.”In addition to his daughter and wife, Mr. Hardee leaves two daughters from his first marriage, Mary Baker and Becky Eissens; a stepdaughter, Patricia Phelps; eight grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Born in Martin County, N.C., on Aug. 15, 1918, Mr. Hardee was one of five children of Henry and Mary Hardee. Not interested in the family corn and tobacco farm, Mr. Hardee got a job as a grill cook at a local eatery. In World War II, he was a Navy cook in the Pacific. While home on furlough in 1945, he married Kathryn Roebuck. She died in 1980. In 1986, he married Helen Galloway.

After World War II, Mr. Hardee returned to Greenville and opened a restaurant; he and his wife lived in the back. By 1960, when he opened his first hamburger stand, Mr. Hardee already owned 15 restaurants.

He took on two partners, Jim Gardner and Leonard Rawls, in 1961. They opened a second Hardee’s, in Rocky Mount, N.C. But difficulties with his partners soon led him to sell his share. Mr. Hardee later started another hamburger chain, called Little Mint, which eventually had about 25 franchised locations in North and South Carolina.

The Hardee’s chain grew by leaps and bounds in the 1970s, helped in part by its jingle: “Hurry on down to Hardee’s, where the burgers are charco-broiled.”

Ann Hardee Riggs said her father never failed to get a kick out of seeing the red and white sign of the Hardee’s chain. “Anywhere he would go, he was proud to see his name up there,” she said.


The above photo of the first Hardee’s stand documents that Mr. Hardee was influenced by the early McDonald’s stands. Below is a modern version of the 50’s and 60’s McDonald’s stand, this one located on U.S. Route 1 in Saugus, Mass. was built 2 years ago.

Circa 2006 Photo, copyright by Larry Cultrera

D’Andrea’s 3 Acres Drive-In Restaurant

I have had an old black & white real photo post card of the 3 Acres Drive-In (night view) for over 20 years.  It was always a neat image. This place was off the Wilbur Cross Parkway near the West Rock Tunnel (don’t believe it is still there). I just got an even nicer color post card on ebay of the same place showing it during the daytime. I figured I would share these 2 images with my faithful audience.

Unidentified Drive-In restaurant, Lake Region of New Hampshire

I got this next image, a 1961 vintage snapshot of an unidentified Drive-In Restaurant. The person I bought this from on ebay could only tell me it was part of a group of items that came from the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. There is nothing, signs or otherwise to inform me what or where this was. I am hoping someone might recognize this and let me know. I got it because it was an interesting period photo.

11 thoughts on “Some more drive-in restaurant images and info

  1. Just found your blog and love it.

    One minor thing — you reference the Wilbur Cross’s “Black Rock Tunnel” but you probably mean the West Rock Tunnel. AFAIK it’s the only vehicular tunnel in the state and certainly the only one on the Cross/Merritt Parkways.

  2. Nick, thank you for catching that minor error. I had the cards with me when I wrote it but used my memory instead of actually checking the info right in front of me.

  3. I wanted to say Tamarack Drive-In for the Lakes Region drive-in (on Route 3 near Weirs Beach) but their web site says it was founded in 1962! (BTW, the photo on their web site is of the auxiliary dining room to the rear of the property, not the building with service windows to the front.) Unfortunately, I don’t have my own picture.

    Interesting how Hardee’s stole the Stanley Meston McDonald’s design almost exactly, including the striped tile motif, merely substituting a big letter H for the golden arch. At least the McDonald brothers fared better than Mr. Hardee- as I recall, Ray Kroc bought them out for $2 million (still a pittance considering what McDonald’s would later become.)

  4. Hi Larry, I grew up in Hamden, Conn., next to Woodbridge and and I have very early memories of seeing that “EAT” sign of Dandreas while looking out the back of the family station wagon before entering the Wilbur Cross parkway tunnel. We never got off and ate there and I think by then they had modernized the archetecture (this was in the mid-60s), but they kept that EAT sign. Thanks for the cool pictures!
    Gunnar Johnson

  5. Larry, I haven’t been that way in some time but my brother tells me he was in the area last year and the whole thing had been torn down (Dandreas had a motel there too) and now a Starbucks (!) can be seen from the parkway. Now that Starbucks is having their own problems, maybe they will get torn down too!

  6. My mother worked as a housekeeper at D’Andrea’s Motel in the 1960’s. I did eat at the restaurant a few times. I remember the huge illuminated EAT sign most of all.

  7. Larry,
    I am the grandson of Mr. Albert D’andrea the Original owner of the restaurant and the property. These pictures are fantastic!!! They make me very proud to see what my grandfather was able to accomplish. In fact, my grandfather owned and operated 4 other restaurants around the Connecticut area. That’s how I came across your site. I am trying to find the rest of them. I know one was D’Andrea’s Drive Inn ( waitresses had skates and came to your car).From what he told me it was the first drive inn, in the north east. He also owned a diner called D’Andrea’s Diner, I understand that the original diner is somewhere in Massachusetts. If you can help me in any way find out more information I would be truly grateful. Enclosing, Thank you for honoring my grandfather and all his hard work.

    Richard Albert D’Andrea Jr.

    • Hi Couz! I’m your dad’s cousin Paul from CT. I was looking for pictures of our old place and saw this old post from you on here. I have some old menus, napkins, matchbooks, etc.
      My dad (Edward), my grandmother, and the whole family owned and operated the businesses for many years. We first had a place in Hamden which is now an Enterprise car rental place. There were several diners along the Boston Post Road in the Orange-Milford area
      and the main one in Woodbridge which had a 44 unit motel and a Shell gas station alongside the restaurant. Your dad and I worked many hours behind the grille for many years. Everyone in the family worked in some capacity for the business. It was a wonderful thing we had. I wish you and my son and my nephews could have seen it in its heyday. It is still called D’Andrea’s Plaza. We built stores between the restaurant and gas station, and your mom and dad had a jewelry store in one of them. The old restaurant building is vacant right now but I hear the that Katz’s Deli which is currently in one of the larger attached stores in the plaza is looking to occupy our old building so he can expand. If you like I will try to scan what I have and email it to you.

  8. I believe the D’andreas drive in…girls came to car, eas on Dixwell Ave, Hamden..across from Masonic Hall…near where trolly tracks stopped from two tracks to one for rest of line which went up to Benham and Dixwell…never continued…I had eaten at the larger D’andreas..opened late if not all night..great to end dates…My Dad owned the Carroll Cut Rate store in the bank section of Hamden…went to Hamden High…graduated 1956

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