Illustration by Matt Lehman
It’s hard for St. Louisans to get their heads around the idea that a Texan owned the Parkmoor Drive-Ins. W.L. McGinley held a patent for those trays that carhops hang from car windows. He brought his idea for a drive-in to St. Louis and began to open Parkmoors.
The furor over the 1999 demolition of the last one, located at Big Bend and Clayton, still resonates. Less well remembered is the fact that there were several: on Chippewa near Ted Drewes; at Lindbergh and Manchester; on North Kingshighway, near KXOK’s Radio Park; and on DeBaliviere, a street buzzing with clubs, restaurants, and a movie house in those days.
The Parkmoor seemed a half step above many sandwich spots, with a sort of glossy finish to everything in the house. The best dish, though, was the onion rings, perhaps some of the most remarkable ever to grace a St. Louis eatery. Huge and lightly cloaked in a preternaturally fluffy batter, they floated off the plate and into the mouths of those wise enough to devour them while they were shimmering-hot.
And how would you end the perfect meal? With cake, ice cream, and hot fudge sauce. There were no calories at all—in memory, at least.