I never grew up visiting drive-ins, not that they didn’t exist in my neighborhood. It just wasn’t my family’s thing.

But I’ve watched enough “Happy Days” and “Laverne and Shirley” episodes to yearn for the friendly gathering place of a drive-in, where teen-agers and families nosh on greasy burgers and thick milkshakes.

French fries station at Kwik Way

In Oakland’s Grand Lake neighborhood, the old Kwik Way Drive-In was vacant for years, just a hollow shell filled with only memories of those who grew up eating its burgers and hanging out near the lake. In April, the neon light went back on as the polished Kwik Way was brought back to life by Gary Rizzo, who owns the Sommerset Restaurant in Rockridge.

There’s something about the green neon sign that just screams 50s. Although it doesn’t function as a traditional drive-in with servers coming out to your car, it still has the burgers, French fries and milkshakes.

Neon Kwik Way sign

The updated Kwik Way also offers up twists to the menu, like the roasted pepper burger ($5.99) with mushrooms and cheddar. Along with the milkshakes, you can also get agua frescas.

While the burgers are on the done side (which is why it’s better to order the specialty burgers that lather on the extra toppings), Kwik Way can still draw young families, many probably reminiscing about their favorite childhood drive-in and hoping to create new memories for their kids.

Kwik Way Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

Kwik Way Drive-In, 500 Lake Park Ave. (between Rand and Lakeshore), Oakland. PH: 510.832.1300.

Working the burger station

Roasted pepper burger with a coffee milkshake

People eat at the few tables on the side

Window scene

The sign is the main attraction for me

Kwik Way is just a few steps from the iconic Grand Lake Theatre

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One Response to The Glow of Nostalgic Burgers in Grand Lake

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    I never had drive-ins when I was growing up in SF, either. But nice to know there are cute little places like this that still carry on that nostalgic tradition.

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