Burger: Carl's

Longtime owner Frank Cunetto recently retired, but don't worry: Carl's famous burgers will stay the same.

Carl's Drive In was voted the runner up for best burger in St. Louis in the 2015 Feast 50. This Q&A was conducted with manager Jason Apple.

Tell us about a few of the signature dishes served at your restaurant, and how they embody your work. Carl’s Drive In is known best for our made-to-order burgers. They are fresh, never frozen, and have been ranked as one of the top burgers in the country. Our homemade root beer is the original IBC recipe, only available at Carl’s. It is served up the old-fashioned way, in a frosted glass mug. For those who are looking for something a little different, we recommend the Curly-Q Hot Dog. It is a fun twist on the classic hot dog and tastes like it just came off the barbecue.

What have been some milestones in your career so far? Carl’s has been in business for over 55 years and only changed ownership twice, a rare feature in today’s industry. Our burgers have gained local as well as national recognition, including being named as one of the Top 10 in the country.

Clearly your work has resonated with diners – what would you attribute this to, and what does it mean to you? We attribute this to the fact that diners enjoy the consistency and excellent quality that they have come to expect from the staff at Carl’s. Customers have been coming to this one-of-a-kind establishment for generations.Their sustained patronage tells us that they appreciate locally owned and operated businesses with strong ties to the community.

What do you hope to see happen next in the local food scene, and why? We hope to see more local, independently owned restaurants emerge. It seems like the food industry is flooded with too many large corporations providing the same lackluster fare. Restaurants which are able to provide fresh and exciting concepts while maintaining their connections to the area would be a welcome idea.

Whether it’s developing a dish or an entire food or drink menu, where do you get your inspiration? What inspires you and motivates you to do the work that you do? At Carl’s, we get our inspiration from our patrons. We pride ourselves on our ability to give customers what they want. Each of us has a strong desire to serve and continue the tradition of providing quality comfort food — food that brings people together — reminding customers to enjoy some of the simpler things in life.

What’s next for you and your work? Looking toward the future, we plan to carry on the Carl’s legacy of hot-off-the-grill burgers and ice-cold root beer. We will provide the same quality service that Carl’s has become known for over the past 50 years while continuing to evolve alongside the St. Louis community for 50 more.

Carl's Drive In, 9033 Manchester Road, Brentwood, Missouri, 314.961.9652