A new drive-in opened in Des Plaines last week, and, while Des Plaines has been home to a number of drive-ins, Rand Red Hots, 1441 Rand Road, is the only one that still looks like a drive-in.
Rand Red Hots has a very brief menu, reminiscent of the limited-menu, fast-service model perfected by McDonald's, whose first corporate restaurant is just around the corner on Lee Street.
Rand Red Hots has given the building a major makeover, with new blacktop and concrete, a rebuilt restaurant area, removed car shelters, new lighting outside, and more. Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., business has been brisk in the first days.
There were once numerous drive-ins in Des Plaines. The River and Rand area was the first auto-oriented shopping area with individual parking lots to flourish in the post-World War II boom, and so had the most drive-ins.
Rand Red Hots was a classic drive-in restaurant. As discussed here previously, it opened in 1964 as a Cock Robin ice cream stand, serving square scoops and small burgers, then became a Top's Big Boy for several years before becoming a car dealership until now, except for a short stint as J & J Sliders, another fast food restaurant.
Henry's Hamburgers was located at Higgins and Mannheim roads, an area planned for redevelopment, Kelly's Jet System, a McDonald's imitation, was on Lee Street, which is now Giuseppe's parking and Burger King on Lee Street.
Dog n Suds and Dairy Queen was near Algonquin and Wolf roads, and there was a Dog n Suds near Wolf and Central roads, which is now Giacomo's.
The River and Rand shopping area also had McDonald's, a drive-in toy store, Amling's, four gas stations, Well's Drive-In and Howard Johnson, the site of McDonald's, Dairy Queen, which is now Las Asadas and Robert Hall Clothiers, which is now U.S. Cellular.
There was also a drive-in cleaners, Pesche's Flowers & Supermarket, Kinney Shoes, which is now Geiser-Berner, the oval-shaped Jim's Drive-In & Sinclair, which is now Des Plaines Yamaha-Suzuki, Berkey Photo Service, now AMA Dance & Music School, and more.