Drive-in restaurants see surge in business as diners look to social distance while eating out

(FOX 9)

As the coronavirus pandemic impacts our everyday way of life, some old-school businesses are booming in business.

The restaurant industry is among the hardest hit business areas during the pandemic response. In Minnesota, Governor Walz's stay-at-home order has forced restaurants to close to dine-in meals.

But, for drive-in diners, it's business as usual. At the Minnetonka Drive In, summer is usually the busiest time of the year. But business has been booming so far this spring, thanks to the coronavirus.

Since it doesn't offer indoor seating, Dave Bennyhoff says the drive-in his father started 60 years ago is an ideal pit stop for people who want to go out to eat during the stay at home order.

Bennyhoff says customers can order and pay online and stay in their cars while a carhop brings them their food without having contact with anyone.

"People need a break," he said. "They don't want to cook at home, they want to eat out, even if they are only coming here and eating in their car. It still feels like they are going out to eat."

Bennyhoff says the drive-in is doing three times the business as a normal summer day. In fact, they had their busiest day ever last weekend.

"I just kind of shake my head," he said. "I almost can't believe it. I really can't. It was so packed, the cars were waiting out on the highway in the middle of the road, waiting for a car to leave so they could get in."

For Jennifer Jacquesmart and her sons, it's a chance to chow down on something other than a homecooked meal while social distancing at the same time.

"Even when you get something to go, you are still at home," she said. "It's nice to get out and a little something different."

While Loren Langer and his wife are taking a break after hitting the road in their classic car.

"Good for them," he said. "I'm glad the arey doing well... A lot of people going broke. A lot of people on hard times. This brings some happiness to people."

The Bennyhoffs are grateful for the boost in business. They just wonder how long they'll be able to keep up down the road.

"I just hope it really ends soon," he said. "I'm not used to working 12-hour days."