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1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 249 (229)

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition
1950-51 Theatre Catalog
1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 249
Page 249

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 249


It is difficult to determine exactly what size cafeteria should be used in a particular drive-in, but here is a rule-of-thumb outline: 500 cars or less, two-lane cafeteria; 500 to 800 cars, two or four lanes optional; 700 to 800 cars, four lanes highly recommended; 800 to 1,200 cars, four lanes mandatory.

This guide can, of course, be qualified in certain cases. For example, a 250-car drive-in can operate a one-lane cafeteria very eliiciently, but a properly designed and properly executed driveein theatre refreshment stand can, using basic equipment, have a two-lane cafeteria for $300 more in equipment costs than a onelane cafeteria with the same number of personnel. For that reason, the two-lane cafeteria is recommended for even the smallest of drive-ins.

There is one further point which should be brought out regarding the above table. There are a great many operators who have built a 500-car theatre and then wished they had a 1,000-car theatre, and vice-versa. There are some 1,000-car theatres which could handle the amount of business available to them with the 500-car plan. However, a theatre is built for a certain number of cars with the expectation of doing a definite volume of business. By the same token, the refreshment area should be designed to harmonize with the theatres anticipated patronage.

A notable advantage of a four-lane cafeteria, designed for a 1,000-car drivein, lies in the fact that on those days where there are only two, three, or four hundred cars in the theatre, only two lanes need be operated. Thus, it is important to design a refreshment stand layout in such a way that either two or four lanes can be operated; by doing so, payroll costs may be reduced considerably, and efficiency can be maintained, even with less than peak loads in the theatre.


A cafeteria system lends itself nicely to the sale of almost any item. It has a particular advantage in that it allows the merchandiser to centralize his wares in each different lane with both hot and cold areas. It is difficult to state on a national basis what should be sold in drive-ins. There are certain items that all the drive-ins will sell, while there are some which may only sell well in certain localities.

Soft Drinks and Cottee

Generally speaking, soft drinks and coffee are the largest Sellers in drive-in theatres. Since they account for the largest percentage of gross business, they should be placed last in a cafeteria line, immediately before the check-out or cashierls booth. This is also the most desirable location because they will be carried a shorter distance through the line with less spilling and because the drinks will have less time to get hot if they are cold, and cold if they are hot.

The argument has waxed hot and heavy as to whether multiple drinks or Just a single drink should be offered. It can generally be said that each area 0f. the country has its own favorite drink. Some areas prefer a particular carbonated drink, some a non-carbonated




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drink, while others like orange, lemon, coca-cola, root beer, etc.

It is the feeling of the writer, after surveying several operating areas, that where multiple drinks are oEered, let us say the first three best-Selling drinks, the gross business done in soft drinks is increased approximately 20% over the amount of business done on single drinks. This revelation is highly important, since, if the proper type of drink equipment is used as opposed to selling out of bottles, pre-packed cans, cartons, or containers, drinks will yield the highest margin of profit of any item sold in the theatre. Thus, increasing this part of his revenue is probably the most important thing a refreshment stand operator

can do.


Drive-in theatres were made to order for the commercial type popper. There are a few cases in the smaller theatre where the conventional type can handle the load of customers for popcorn, but a commercial popper assures the owner of the theatre that all of his requirements can be met at any time, regardless of whether the commercial popper is built into the front display of the counter, set into the back bar, or even in cases where the popcorn is prepared in the back room and sold through warmers. In short, the commercial popper is a "must" for popcorn, and popcorn is a Hmust" for the theatre.

Under a cafeteria system, popcorn must be packaged in advance and placed on the counter, or packaged as the line moves along the counter and placed there for the public to pick it up. This operation requires a special type of warming equipment, the more open the better. Since popcorn is the greatest of all ffimpulseii items in the theatre, everything possible should. be done to encourage this high-type profit item.

Ice Cream

Ice cream is a definite umust" also under any type of refreshment stand system. In a cafeteria system, the ice

cream cabinet is set directly into the counter, flush with the top. During rush periods the top is removed, and at slack times a plastic cover may be used through which the customer is invited to serve himself by a sign painted on the top reading, HOpen me and serve yourself."

Two, three, or four different types of packaged ice creams should be used. The nature of a locality, profit potential, and public acceptance are among the factors influencing the sale of ice cream. The fact that patrons handle the ice cream themselves and make their own selections

' directly from the counter is an asset.


The general procedure under a cafeteria system is to sell candy (which is a low-profit item as regards drive-in thea A COFFEEBOY can keep hot as much as 10 gallons of coffee for a period of 18 hours. They are obtainable in single or double spigot service.
1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 249