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I just finished a road trip through a few countries in central Europe and was wondering whether I would come across a drive-in restaurant. I didn't, but I wouldn't mind visiting one on the next trip.

In Germany McDonald's used to have tons of Drive-Ins, but these were actually mis-labelled Drive-Thrus. I think they call them McDrives now. It seems they still think Germans can't pronounce the TH.

So I'm looking for a place where you park but stay in your car and a waitress/waiter comes around (often on roller skates) to take your order and deliver it as well. You then eat in the car.

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I thought these were all gone since the 60s, until I was in Arizona earlier this month and went to Sonic - and yes, they had roller skates too :)) –  Mark Mayo Sep 23 '12 at 23:06
Yeah these are not even that easy to find in the US any more though during the '50s revival in the '80s I had a favourite one in Fullerton California. I've never seen one outside the US. If there is something it will likely be somewhere that also has a classic car theme, what those Germans call "Oldtimers"! –  hippietrail Sep 24 '12 at 3:01
I'm not sure if it make much sense with the weather you get in Central Europe. Can't imagine waitress rollerskating in rain ;-) –  vartec Sep 25 '12 at 8:56
In my travels in Europe I've never seen one, in fact I've never seen one at all. The drive through does sometimes work like you describe though, if they haven't got what you are ordering ready they might well ask you to wait in the parking lot and then deliver it to you. I think @vartec has the right idea, here you order at the drive through then stop at the parking lot and eat. The waitress/waiter doesn't wanna leave the restaurant and you don't wanna leave your car heh. –  Alendri Sep 25 '12 at 9:57
I'm from Czech Republic, and I can say that as far asI know, there's no such restaurant here. We're not so happy about being in car, we prefer to walk out and be comfortably seated. –  yo' Nov 2 '12 at 22:59

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I'm pretty sure the answer is no, there are none.

Even using a loose definition of Central Europe, there doesn't seem to be any other than the "Drive-thrus" you mention. The closest I could find was Autokino Gravenbruch, a drive-in movie cinema in Germany.

This sausage vendor in Poland also showed up in my searches but I think it falls solidly into the category of 'buying takeaway food and sitting in your car to eat it', which you could do almost anywhere.

There's also Annette's Diner, a resturant in Disney Village, Paris where they've attempted to recreate a 1950's, "Happy Days" feel and will present you with a real American breakfasts served by waitresses on roller skates. Sounds like the right atmosphere, but of course, no drive-in.

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The other problem is some places calling themselves "Drive in" (eg Coffeze in Scotland) when they're really just drive-thru... –  Mark Mayo Sep 28 '12 at 6:11
@MarkMayo: Peter already mentioned that in his question: In Germany McDonalds used to have tons of Drive-Ins, but these were actually mis-labelled Drive-Thrus. –  hippietrail Sep 28 '12 at 7:28
Yeah, was just using it to highlight Coffeze which I'd found in my searches, which turned out not to be one. –  Mark Mayo Sep 28 '12 at 14:21

At least there were some real drive in restaurants in Europe. I found a really old newspaper article about the first drive-in restaurant in Germany, opened in 1962. This restaurant seems no longer be there.

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Yes there are. Quite a few.

The drive-in business model is not the strongest in CEE, since many Europeans are less dependent on cars than North Americans for reasons of smaller average distances between desired destinations, denser cities, higher fuel costs and generally good public transportation infrastructure.

I cannot find a legal separation between what constitutes a drive-in vs a drive-through in Germany or Austria, but I am certain that neither would entail a waiter or waitress serving food on roller-skates. It stands to reason that business owners would go for the name that is currently most popular in the news and people's minds.

A drive-in with waiters serving you food to the car includes higher operating costs, legal liabilities and higher risks for the waiters.

My best bet for finding said "drive throughs" would be the vicinity of suburbian shopping centers in countries with weak labor unions and low to no minimum wages.

BTW: If it is too much trouble to pull down the car window twice or keep it open until you receive the order, there are some drive-ins where you can order via a mobile app.

If you have carpal tunnel from all that hard typing work, or other disabilities just make sure to let the staff no beforehand and they will most certainly bring the food in your car. Probably not on roller skates though ;)

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I don't think even the Germans don't have a law to distinguish a drive-in from a drive-thru, but there is a big different. In a drive-through you order in your car, drive around the corner and receive your food in your car usually in a (take-away)bag, then you drive off and eat later, or maybe eat in their parking lot. At a drive-in, you drive onto a parking space on the facility, they come to you to take your order and the food is served to you on a tray which is affixed to your car door. You eat the food while in Do you still these types of restaurants exist in Europe? –  Peter Hahndorf May 31 at 7:08

This is a concept that simply does not exist (at least not in widespread form) in Europe, and if it did exist, it probably would not be popular. While the USA has many people who love being spoiled by services (e.g. getting your groceries delivered to your car instead of taking them there yourself; getting your dinner delivered to your car instead of having to go in and order it), Europeans generally aren't looking for anything like that. A restaurant visit simply involves going in and sitting down at a table, and ordering your food from there. For hurried people who want to pick up a burger and drive off again, there are the drive-through places that you mentioned.

On that subject, the McDonald's drive-in that you mentioned is not an incorrect label per se; it's just different words being used in different parts of the world. ;-)

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