Last week I got a bit turned around heading to the Society For Commercial Archeology’s New Jersey Diner Tour reception – but I definitely didn’t go the Wrong Way Old King Louie because I got to stop at one of the cheeriest roadside drive in restaurants I’ve visited- Weber’s Famous Root Beer on Route 38 in Pennsauken, NJ.
Opened in 1954 this location is one of only a handful of drive-in restaurants in New Jersey. While the surrounding businesses and traffic have increased years, this Weber’s location has the benefit of what I like to call their “Lollipop” sign, drawing attention to the low slung orange building. It was the sight of these spinning lollipops that let me know I hadn’t made the wrong turn at all!
I swung into the large parking lot surrounded by cheerily landscaped flowers and pulled into one of the 36 numbered spaces. While I was only planning on inquiring quickly about setting up an interview, my car hop waitress soon had me chatting with manager Tom Devereaux, who has worked at this Weber’s for almost 30 years. The location itself is only on it’s 3rd set of owners, who have owned the business for the last 15 years or so.
According to Roadside Architecture historian Debra Jane Seltzer’s Weber’s Root Beer page, Weber’s was originally a chain started in Tulsa OK, and the 3 New Jersey locations (Pennsauken, Brooklawn and Stratford) are all that is left in this area. They are all independently owned and operated – so I guess I’ll have to check ‘em all out (Alas, from what I can tell, the Sputnik at the Pennsauken site appears to have been “de-sput-ified” and is now just a round orange ball.)
All three locations offer “car hop” service, where you pull into a numbered space, put your “lights on for service” and a car hop waitress will come to your car to take your order. Then they bring out your food on a tray that hooks to the window of your car.
The menu at the Pennsauken Weber’s is your classic roadside fare of burgers and hot dogs, but with a couple of twists thrown in. Tom says they’re famous for their tuna hoagie, milkshakes and pork roll sandwich – a local delicacy. All of the food is made to order, and they don’t use any heat lamps. You can see a photo of their tasty items as well as a frosty mug of their root beer here on one of my fave retro roadmap resources Holly Eats.
The root beer at this Weber’s is made daily on location, and they use a beer tap to serve it- and for those of you who might be watching your girlish figures (or watching someone else’s girlish figure) they don’t have diet, just regular.
You can order your root beer to be delivered in a frosty glass mug perched on the tray on the window of your car, or in a gallon to go. Tom reports that some European visitors, while smitten with the idea of the drive-in restaurant, think that they can order real beer here. Whoops!
Tom says they’ve gotten famous people stopping by, like Kevin Bacon, but also repeat customers from all over, like the gentleman from Connecticut who stops in once a year (Tom always remembers his order).
(Photo courtesy of bendystraw / Becky S and her Flickr Stream. Thanks Beck! Hope you’re digging Western Mass!)
There are some details that are handy to know when you’re planning to visit Weber’s on Route 38 in Pennsauken. They’re open seasonally – roughly March 1- October 31 and are a cash only kind of place. During the summer they’re open until 9-10 but staying open ’til midnight on the 4th of July, as it’s a tradition for families to visit Weber’s after seeing the area fireworks.
On the off season they’ll stay open ’til 7-8pm and their hours may change if it’s a rainy day. Just so you’re not disappointed, their phone number is 856- 662-6632 so can call them to make sure they’re open before you stop by.
So if you’re in the area, make a right turn into the Weber’s parking lot for some old fashioned car hop food and fun!
Weber’s Root Beer Drive-in Restaurant
6019 Lexington Ave (Rt 38)
Pennsauken, NJ 08110