At the Drive-In: Rudy’s in Jackson

Have you ever been to a drive-in fast food joint? I’m not sure I’d even seen a functional example of one before Rudy’s opened, just south of downtown Jackson. One chilly, rainy Sunday afternoon, my husband and I decided to check the place out. First, reign in your expectations: the waitstaff is not on rollerskates. However, the menu was just what you’d expect from a local fast food operation. Olive burgers, chili dogs, onion rings and malted milk shakes are a few of the attractions listed on the board posted outside the building.

While sitting in the comfort of our car, Steve and I placed our orders with a smiling waitress. Then, I infiltrated the establishment to locate the restroom. Rudy’s has no restaurant or real public space inside, but I got a good view of the clean kitchen on my way to the tidy bathroom.

Our food came on a plastic tray that mounted to the car window, just as you might expect. The sandwiches (wrapped in paper) were hot and tasty, and the malted milk shakes (in large paper cups) really hit the spot. I did see “real” glasses going to some cars, but I suppose these are for the root beer floats; by the way, you can by the root beer here buy the half-gallon or gallon, so perhaps it’s good stuff.

Soon after we were finished, our server returned to our car to collect the waste. As we drove away, I noticed picnic tables that could be topped with umbrellas for balmy-weather dining.

I eat fast food only a couple of times a year, so I don’t have much to compare Rudy’s Drive-In to, but I’d certainly go there again before I entered a chain restaurant’s drive-through line. There’s no personal nostaglia factor here for me, but it was a different and unique experience which I’d certainly repeat, even if only for a milkshake!

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m old enough to remember the old A&W drive-ins with the glass root beer mugs and the tray they put right on the window-glass. There were Papa, Mama, Teen, and Kid burgers I think. That was the best root-beer I can remember (or it is nostalgia).

    Either way, that was pretty cool.

  2. There is an A&W Drive in in Dexter….come by and visit! I’ll meet you there! Another dirive in nearby is the Chick-Inn in Ypsilanti.

  3. The Old Town Drive in Saginaw is in the old A&W building on Gratiot. It still has “on the window” trays and frosted root beer mugs. Their coney dogs are great and on special on Tuesdays.


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