In its heyday, The Hut drive-in was West Palm Beach’s premier teen hangout. It was so All-American the Saturday Evening Post of June 22, 1946, featured a photograph of the famed snack stand.
The Hall family opened it in 1930 between Flagler Drive and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.
Kids in convertibles could drive right up and get curb service: hamburgers, barbecue, and Coney Island hot dogs loaded with cheese, along with milkshakes from the local Alfar Creamery and frosty root beer. The average World War II era check was 40 cents.
After the war, the Hall family opened Hall Hardware, still active on Dixie Highway near Belvedere Road. The Hut went through a series of owners and finally made way for the Phillips Point office tower in the early 1980s.
“The Hut is where you went,” Burt Reynolds once recalled. “If you were lucky enough to have a friend with a car, you parked by some girls, your arm hanging out against the door so that it looked like you had a bicep.”
Reynolds recalled that The Hut was flanked by an asphalt apron accommodating up to 40 cars parked three-deep. For somebody up front to back out, they had to flash their lights and the cars immediately behind would back onto the two-laned Flagler. Perpetual musical parking was followed by musical car-hopping. Reynolds said seniors and football players got the front spots.
In 1997, Richard and Jay Preefer, 50-year-old twins from Palm Beach High’s class of 1964 who were regulars at the Hut, opened a new “Hut” at 471 Clematis St., re-created the original facade, down to the neon Alfar Ice Cream sign. They filled the walls with prom pictures from the ’50s and ’60s, installed real period booths, and adopted a chili recipe contributed by a veteran Hut waitress. They even had “Buddy” Reynolds’ framed Palm Beach High sweater.
But only nine months later, Richard Preefer had health problems and the brothers had to shut down their dream.
The restaurant was replaced by a cafe, but the site is now vacant.
In its heyday, The Hut drive-in in West Palm Beach was the area’s most popular hangout for teens, including those from Palm Beach who came over the bridge in their convertibles to socialize and get curb service for hamburgers, cheese-laden Coney Island hot dogs, milkshakes and root beer. The Hall family opened The Hut in 1930 on Flagler Drive just north of the Royal Park Bridge. On June 22, 1946, The Hut was featured in the ‘Saturday Evening Post.’ After World War II, The Hut went through a series of owners, but remained popular. It finally closed in the late 1970s and then was replaced by downtown office buildings. In 1997, two local brothers opened a new Hut on Clematis Street, re-creating the original facade and decorating the interior with memorabilia. Several months later, it closed. (Palm Beach Post file photo)