What was the world’s first drive-in restaurant, built for the purpose of serving meals to motorists in their cars? A small stand that Jessie G Kirby opened in Dallas in 1921, serving simple barbecued pork sandwiches, has a strong claim to that fame.
After the First Pig Stand opened, the businessman opened another stand and another and soon Kirby had a nationwide franchise. According to an advertisement in 1924, the company was selling 50,000 sandwiches each week just from its ten Dallas locations. The franchise operated in multiple states, including California.
Kirby was clearly a born entrepreneur, who knew that the way to attract customers was to serve good food quickly and to do it with a bit of fanfare. When customers pulled into a Pig Stand parking lot, teenaged boys in white shirts and black bow ties would rush over, hop onto the running board (thus the word carhop was invented) and take their orders. Eventually, they’d be replaced by attractive girls on roller skates.
Kirby wasn’t around long to see his success. He died of pneumonia in 1926 but his wife Shirley, joined by her husband’s business partner Dr Reuben Jackson, continued operating the company.
This vintage menu art comes from one of the Texas franchises in the 1960s and is a riot of color and design. It shows the first humble Pig Stand in the 20’s, the modern roadside version of the ‘60s and – optimistically – future Pig Stands operating in Space, with hungry customers arriving in flying vehicles. Elon Musk, eat your heart out.
Competition in the form of drive-through restaurants had begun to emerge in the 1950s but the Pig Stands fought admirably to keep their share of the market. By 1985, however, the Fort Worth Star Telegraph newspaper reported: ’Pig Stands… are almost a thing of the past.’
The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005 and the two remaining Pig Stands closed the following year.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each order includes a print of the interior menu.
All printed in USA.