Shared from Food & Wine

It’s the perfect socially-distanced outing.

drive inn movie

As the coronavirus pandemic closes businesses and shuts people into their houses, it seems that everything old is new again: chain letters, sourdough baking, and puzzles.

A few savvy restaurants, devoid of customers and looking for new ways to bring in business without putting people in danger, found the logical intersection of nostalgia, social distancing, and good eating: turning their parking lots into drive-in movie theaters.

“When the world is shutting down, we have to go back to our roots for entertainment,” posted Clint Gibson, owner of BJ’s Restaurant and Bar in Mingus, Texas, announcing the first movie showing in their parking lot, of The Sandlot, complete with car-hops.

The classic drive-in theater is having a moment during the pandemic, too (and the New York Times is on it), but with only around 300 facilities in the country, few people can take advantage of this prime way to watch movies on the big screen without sharing space with strangers. So restaurants, as they so often do, have stepped in to find a way to keep people entertained and well-fed.

In Omaha, The Corner Kick brought out about 35 cars to their parking lot earlier this month—some people in their cars, others perched in their trunk with the tailgate open, all watching The Three Amigos on three different screens on the side of the building, with the audio broadcast into cars via FM radio. After a successful first run, they’ve since made movie night a weekly event; this week will be their fourth.

Restaurants Converting to Drive-In Theaters

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