Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stewart's Drive In - Kearny, NJ

We were driving around Kearny the other day when I noticed this small but very retro looking restaurant. The sign board said "Stewart's Drive In" and we saw cars parked all around it, with food trays hanging out of the windows. I was like oh wow, it's just like the movies, whenever they show America in th 50's and 60's. We have to check it out soon. It's really weird that we never noticed it before. When I went back home, I googled this place and saw that it's not opened all year round. Just during summer! No wonder we never really noticed it before. We moved to this part of town just about a year ago and I was back in Malaysia for most of last summer. Anyways, we decided to go check this place out for dinner on Saturday.
Before we went, I did a little bit of research and found out that it's famous for their root beer! In fact, it's been famous since 1924! Here is a little snippet about the history of Stewart's from their website. " In 1924, teacher Frank Stewart was looking for a way to supplement his income during the summer months. So he borrowed a popular restaurant concept from the West Coast --- a fast-food drive-in establishment that served root beer and popcorn. However, he first had to develop a unique root beer recipe to differentiate it from the competition, mainly A&W Root Beer, which was produced in California. By blending over 20 extract varieties of roots, barks, herbs and berries, he and a flavor chemist with J. Hungerford Co. developed Stewart's Root Beer. Thus, the first Stewart's Drive-In, featuring root beer and popcorn, delivered to customer's cars by carhops, was opened in Mansfield, Ohio." You can read the full story from their website.

There are parking bays just like that all around the tiny restaurant. You can choose to drive up and park your car that the bays or you can park your car at the back and dine at the outdoor sitting area at the front of the shop or around the bar area (sitting is very limited though).

Here is the tiny counter/bar area inside the shop. Check out the big barrel of their famous cold brew root beer! If you are not a big root beer fan, they also have other sodas like cream orange, cream ale, pink lemonade, grape and of course all the other regular type of sodas (coke, dr pepper..ect).

When you pull into one of the bays, there are big menus on the wall for you to look through. They serve all kinds of burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and a bunch of different side orders.

Once you have looked through the menu, how do you get the attention of the waitress to order?

That's right. Just turn your headlights on and they will come over to get your order or check if you need anything else. We didn't have to wait very long before the waitress brought over our tray of food. She just hooked it on our window and we were set to go! :D

Kevin ordered a Cheeseburger ($3.55) with a side of French Fries ($2.00) and I had a Cheese Steak Sandwich with Onions ($5.75). Of course we had to order their famous root beer. Kevin just had a large root beer ($2.50) and I had a root beer float ($3.75).

Overall, the food quality wasn't anything to shout about. The burger and sandwich were really greasy but I guess that's how it's supposed to be. They just tasted alright, not the best but not the worst either. What about the root beer? Well, I liked the root beer but Kevin said that it was just alright too. It's almost on par with all of the other great tasting root beers around, so it isn't really all that special. However, I still enjoyed my dinner. It wasn't really the food that made the dinner special but it was the whole experience of being transported back to the past, with rock n roll music playing in the background and getting to eat in a drive in. If you are thinking of checking out Stewart's, go for the experience, not the food.

Stewart's Drive-In
938 Passaic Avenue,
Kearny, New Jersey
Tel: (201) 998-0600


Anonymous said...

The Food is not bad . If your in a hurry where else can you drive up and eat without getting out of the car.

Charlene n Kevin said...

I didn't say it was bad but I am saying that its not that great either. There are lots of places where you can drive up and eat without getting out of the car. You can do that in any fast food place. I am not a big fan of fast food but I dare say that some of them are way better than Stewarts

HenRy LeE said...

Hey there! I stumbled onto ur blog while searching for Stewart's Root Beer... seems like there's no way to get one here in Malaysia :(