A classic St. Louis restaurant is back with a new, modern look.
Older St. Louisans might recognize the name of the classic restaurant that began in the city in the 1930s and closed its doors for the last time in 1999, but a couple has brought the brand back to life in a new iteration. The Parkmoor Drive-In is now open in Webster Groves, serving up classic car hop food in a fresh space.
Laura Burns and her husband, St. Louis restaurateur Frank Romano, own the restaurant. Burns, a lifelong St. Louisan and designer by trade, and Romano, a lover of history who also previously owned the now-shuttered Araka, thought about the kind of restaurant Romano would want to open. The refined casual dining scene is where he felt most comfortable, and the Parkmoor felt like the perfect example. Plus, the brand was available.
"The Parkmoor came to mind as something that would carry that nostalgia and all those warm and fuzzy feels that the people who were around remember, and bring it into this space," Burns says. "It's a reinterpretation of that brand."
The menu features the kind of old-school food you would expect from a car hop. Although many of the original Parkmoor recipes are available online, Burns said they developed all of their own recipes – some things, like adding ketchup to tomato sauce, were a little too old school. The King Burger, the star of the menu, is made with two steak burger patties and topped with American cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and the signature Parkmoor sauce and served on a toasted butter bun. You'll also find the Parlor Dog, the restaurant's take on a chili cheese dog, and a fried bologna sandwich that takes childhood favorites to the next level – the pan-crisped bologna is served between two grilled cheese sandwiches.
The Parkmoor Drive-In also serves a wide array of sno-balls from its walk-up window. Flavors range from fruity – cantaloupe, cherry, pineapple, raspberry – to fun – amaretto, bubble gum, root beer and Tiger's Blood. You can also find a selection of creamy flavors, and you can get any sno-ball "frosty," or drizzled in sweetened condensed milk.
For Burns, this is her first experience working in the restaurant industry. As for Romano, he started working at Kemoll's as a teenager, and has worked at Truffles, Triumph and BaiKu Sushi Lounge, just to name a few. But for Burns, building a direct connection with people through their restaurant is not just satisfying; it's personal.
"[Frank and I] met over food and wine, and our love for that. We were fortunate enough to keep working during the shutdown with COVID, but we were able to have dinner together every night and cook dinner together every night. We really feel like this restaurant is an extension of that," Burns says. "The staff is populated with people we know and that he's worked with in the past. We do have a group of investors, seven different families that are good friends of ours. So it really feels like just a personal and bigger-scale extension of our own kitchen. And being in the forefront is really exciting for the both of us."
The Parkmoor Drive-In, 220 West Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, Missouri, 314.938.5554, theparkmoor.com