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