Drive-In Theatres and Dining: 1950s are back in 2020

When Amazon Studios released its 1950s alien movie online ‘A Vast of Night’ last week, it also released offline: at the Mission Tiki Drive-in Theatre, a pandemic-perfect fit. Drive-In theatres and carhop restaurants popular in the 1950s are groovy again 70 years later in Pandemic 2020.

Some people weary of quarantining at home for more than two months with their own cooking are starting to venture out to these social-distanced options to make the weekend different from the weekday.

LA’s car culture is perfect for social distanced excursions. Cars are required for free drive-thru coronavirus testing (Health Notice: Everyone should get free testing in LA here!). And cars are also perfect for these retro-is-hip again attractions.

So, you should stay home in pandemic. But if you must venture out, here are some car ideas (wear your mask, remain social distanced):


Bob’s Big Boy Restaurant (Burbank)

Bob’s is probably the only restaurant in LA that offers four types of distance dining service. Bob’s is very distance friendly – even the Bob statue in front is wearing a mask!

Car Hop. Bob’s Big Boy is bringing back its car hop service every day 9 am – 9pm. You can drive up in its parking lot, and a car-host will direct you where to park. Then a server wearing a mask brings a disposable menu to your car, to take your order. You should be wearing a mask too. The carhop waiter (runner) returns with your food on a tray that attaches to your rolled-down window for you to eat your food. You don’t have to get out of your car.

Drive-Thru. The drive-thru is open, so you can order at the window, get your food, and speed away.

Pick-up (order in advance and pick-up) and Take-Out (order in person there and go) are also available.

There is no inside dining at this time.

Food: Bob’s serves the 1950s classics  burgers, fries, soda, root beer floats.

It also serves beef dip, chicken and waffles, and other diner food. It’s still LA, so the menu also includes salads, quesadillas, breakfast burritos served all day. For dessert: try the famous strawberry pie or seven-layer chocolate cake.

Photo Opps: The car hop sign, palm trees, classic cars, food on food treys, selfie with Bob Big Boy statue with mask.

Fun Fact: Friday Nights brings back Car Show night, where car collectors bring their Mustangs, Cadillacs, and other retro cars to show off at the Bob’s parking lot and the adjacent parking lot.

Wear your masks as you’re walking around checking cars, and remain physically distant! Note: If you go on Friday night, there may be a 20-30 min wait to get a car hop parking spot, cuz Friday night’s are packed in pandemic!


Mission Tiki Drive In Theatre (Montclair)

The only way you can see a movie in LA is to drive almost an hour east of LA past Pomona to Montclair for the Mission Tiki Drive-In theatre.

How it Works: The theatre has four screens in a huge parking lot. You pay $10 to get into one of the four parking lots. Each screen shows a double feature each night. You can stay for both films. You can’t switch screens. For audio, you tune your radio to the station for the movie you’ve paid for. For concessions: visit the concessions stand in the middle of the four lots

Food: Includes, burgers, fries, popcorn, and pizza, as well as Mexican food including dinner plates AND CHURROS. Prices are very reasonable compared to a regular movie theatre. The concessions building has markings for social distancing, requires a mask, and signs say no more than 10 people inside.

Releases: include films that were out in March when quarantine was announced, like Knives Out, Sonic, and Bloodshot. Newer films include Trolls: World Tour, and the Amazon Studios’ film The Vast of Night.

Fun: Mission Tiki hosted an event for the premiere of the Amazon Studios film ‘The Vast of Night.’ It’s a alien thriller set in the 1950s, so a drive-in theatre is perfect for the launch and screening of the film. Who knows: could more movie studios do premieres of their films here?

Tip: Most movies start at 8p. Arrive at least 30-60 min early on the weekend to get thru the line, get a good parking spot at your screen, get your concessions.

Photo Opp. Sunset photo right past the 8p movie begins.

Trivia: Mission Tiki had announced last fall that they were going to close at the end of 2019 due to development. But then in November, the theater announced that the developer wasn’t going to start until late 2020, so the theatre would remain open through the summer of 2020. Now that the pandemic has increased attendance, and delayed real estate development overall, the drive-in could continue a bit longer.

Get movie times at Mission Tiki’s web site. You can buy tickets at the ticket gate.

There’s only one other drive-in theatre in the area, which just reopened in Riverside.


Mel’s Drive-In (on Sunset)

Mel’s Drive In on Sunset is also open up for carhop or takeout service. You can park in the parking lot, and a waiter will come out to take your order, and return later with your food and a tray hat attaches to your car window.

There’s also a special deal: $9.99 for the Melburger, fries and a soft drink (can upgrade to sweet potato fries for $2 more).

Car hop service available Mon-Fri 9 am – 9 pm, and Fri, Sat, Sun 8a – 10p.

The Melburger has cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion.

There’s even a mini jukebox radio outside playing tunes to help set the mood.