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The Hut Featured In ‘Saturday Evening Post’

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.

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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)

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Posted in Eliot Kleinberg April 17, 2002 at 11:41 am.

10 comments

10 Replies

  1. Eddie Jansen Oct 1st 2011

    American Graffiti ! What classic teenage Ameican hangout.it was !San Francisco had Mels. Los Angeles had The Witchstand. There was Haight Ashbury and East Villlage., but no place was like The Hut To find out that Burt Reyonds hung out there .How could anyone not like Burt Reyonds .! In 1969 The Hut was a mixure of fast cars , surfer looks and long hairs. at Peoples Park ! What fun ! I remember a few people. A dirty blonde woman named Bonnie. She was of Polish decent from Ohio. She lived at Riviera Beach and worked as drafts person.I She was in a car with her girlfriend in front of The Hut when I met her. I remember her showing me this ceramic figure a bald headed man who she said looked like her boss. One of my friends was this car guy named Jeff Gilgenback.He worked at Palm Beach Mall and had played football at Palm Beach H.S. He drove a green PlymouIth Road Runner. Looked him up a few months ago only to find out he passed away i 1995. He was good guy. I remember scoring at People Park and hitch hiking with somebody down Dixie Hwy,and ending up at Shakeys Pizza peaking on acid and mescaline,The pizza dough looked s if was a mile long ! And that weird organ player ! I ended up in somebodys tree house ,What fun ! Oh Sweet Bird of Youth ! I went back a few years ago to WPB. I t looked as if l chunks earth just fell off into space. It was all….Gone ! The Hut. The small cottage I lived in off Dixie Hwy across Woodland Cemetery was gone. In fact, the whole block was gone ! Royal Caste, Shakeys Pizza, and The Palm Beach Mall…Gone. It all broke my heart. There is an old American saying….You can’t go home.

  2. Suzie Gilgenback Doras Oct 19th 2011

    A beautiful memory, Eddie. I too had the 60′s adventures at the Hut! My brother was such a great guy and I’m so happy someone remembers him. Thank you forever, Suzie

  3. Jim Birdsall Dec 4th 2011

    Burt was right !!! I met him there once. I hung out there circa ’61-’65. Used to direct traffic, the police didn’t like that, but it attracted attention…

  4. Eddie Oct 7th 2012

    Visit The Hut on Facebook !

  5. Th Hut is now in Yahoo Groups ! Go to Yahoo Groups and type TheHutWestPalmBeach

  6. brien Jan 2nd 2013

    who can forget the Hut ?? that’s when peoples park was a big hangout and everybody went to the 24 hour dunkin donuts in lake park. Also the Rice twins were always hanging around with their Chauffeur driven rolls royce.
    They had a driver with long blond hair who looked like the guy in the o.j. trial years later. Also there was Captain Alex
    and the freaky clubs in riveria beach. There was also ANOTHER peoples park out behind the Hess gas station in lake park where we had weekend concerts, anybody remember that ? Gas was 27 cents a gallon at that Hess, in 1969, Cigs were 35 cents a pack !! Geese, I guess I’ve lived to long, what GREAT times we had. It was all peace and love back then, none of this wacko violence !!

  7. J.Ryals Dempsey Mar 13th 2013

    Oh, do I remember The Hut-it really was peace and love and our Woodstock all rolled into one! I don’t recall much violence or fights in those days either. When I was young we would stop there on a Sunday afternoon after the beach, and my mother and father would have a beer. I had a hamburger and a coke. I remember going here off and on in high school until I went away to the University of Florida. Does anyone remember “Gordy” from those days? His family owned the ALFAR Creamery on Flamingo Drive. He was one of the most colorful characters who hung out at the Hut.

    I will never forget the day I turned 21. I went to the Hut that afternoon with my friends for my first LEGAL beer at the Hut, but it was an Election Day (1964) and I couldn’t get served! I was so pissed! I guess I did OK though because I went to a party (somewhere!) later that night, and wound up back at the Hut with a Lake Worth girl in the back of her Volvo! (Vicky, where are you?).

    I guess that made up for the beer!

  8. Eddie Jansen Jul 25th 2013

    Bonnie 1969 The Hut West Palm Beach lived in Riviera Beach. Polish decent from Ohio ? Blonde hair. Worked as a draftsmen.
    How are you ? Eddie Emjansen@yahoo.com


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