It all began in 1932, when the husband and wife team of John Louis and Gertrude Mandt opened the first drive-in restaurant in Huntington. They purchased a little piece of land at 2445 Fifth Avenue and built, at a cost of $1,750, a tiny orange building that still stands today. The menu consisted of only two items: Stewart’s Root Beer and popcorn. Sales for the first day totaled an unimpressive 50 cents.
Hoping to do better the next year, the Mandts added hotdogs to the menu, complete with Gertrude’s mouth-watering chili sauce. Today, the business and the little orange building are still going strong. And so is Gertrude’s mouth-watering sauce, still prepared from a secret recipe closely guarded by her great grandson, John Mandt Jr., the drive-in’s fourth generation owner.
James E. Casto