Classic Drive-in Resurfaces on Rand Road

Remnant of the past reopens in Des Plaines.

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.

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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 , 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.

There were other drive-ins scattered around town. The Point was located at Busse and Northwest highways, and the Highlander, which is now , was at River Road and Oakton Street.


Henry's Hamburgers was located at , Kelly's Jet System, a McDonald's imitation, was on Lee Street, which is now 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 .

The River and Rand shopping area also had McDonald's, a drive-in toy store, , four gas stations, Well's Drive-In and Howard Johnson, the site of McDonald's, Dairy Queen, which is now and Robert Hall Clothiers, which is now U.S. Cellular.

There was also a drive-in cleaners, , Kinney Shoes, which is now , the oval-shaped Jim's Drive-In & Sinclair, which is now , Berkey Photo Service, now , and more.

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Phil Heller June 27, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Brian....I am curious....did Top's Big Boy open in 1964, and were they the same owners of Frejilac's, that closed on Lee near Prairie? They sold Big Boy's at Frejilacs. Henry's had a place on Rand across the street by the RR tracks, where a restaurant used to be, too.
Laurie Whitman June 28, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Henrys was there, Phil you are correct. I grew up on willow and all of that space on rand road was prairie. There also was a trampoline place where you could jump on a trampoline that was actually a hole dug in the ground with a trampoline stretched over it. I think it was 50 cents for a half hour, a buck for an hour.
Brian Wolf July 02, 2012 at 12:25 PM
It opened as Cock Robin in 1964 or 1965, and became Top's in 1967. Frejlach's was the area Big Boy franchisee prior to Top's, but I haven't been able to find if they were related in any other way.
Brian Wolf July 02, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Is the trampoline the grid-looking thing I see in this aerial photo? http://www.historicaerials.com/aerials.php?scale=4E-06&lat=42.0484428596884&lon=-87.8883593510739&year=1961


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