Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A side of history to go with our Tik Tok Drive In t-shirt

The Tik Tok Drive In, once located at the corner of Sandy & Burnside in Portland is still regarded as a true Portland classic. Below is a short history of this wonderful establishment. All text and images can also be found at Vintage Roadside located here.

“Time to Eat”

The Tik Tok Drive In, Portland Oregon’s first drive-in restaurant, was located at the bustling intersection of East Burnside, Sandy, & 12th. Opened in 1938 by Sherman Marriott and Horace Williams, the Tik Tok remains a fond memory to the generations of Portlanders who enjoyed hanging out here with friends and family over a hamburger and a frosted root beer.

When it opened in 1938, Tik Tok's architecture illustrated some of the best features of Streamline Moderne. Large banks of windows surrounded the buliding while porthole windows beside the door added a jaunty touch. A dramatic roof pylon topping the building allowed the neon “Tik Tok” sign to be seen from a great distance. The curved shape of he building also gave the Tik Tok increased parking capacity, something the teenagers who flocked there took full advantage of!

The Tik Tok, along with Yaw’s and The Speck, were the places to be on a Friday night in Portland. Another favorite activity of the Tik Tok clientele was watching the parking lot across the street at Scotty’s to see just who else might be out and about.

A selection of items from Tik Tok's late 1930s menu illustrates the delicious variety of food on offer:

  • Special Thick Creamy Malted Milk............................ .20
  • Golden Orange Whip.................................................... .15
  • Special Hamburger with Cheese................................. .20
  • Ham Waffle, with Butter and Syrup........................... .35
  • Tik Tok's DeLuxe French Fried Potatoes.................. .10

Those in the mood for a sandwich could choose between hot melted cheese and bacon grilled in butter for .35, Swiss cheese on rye for .15, or go full out and enjoy a roast young turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce, dressing, mashed potatoes, and gravy for .35. Those looking for a light meal could pick up a toasted bun for .05 and hot soup made daily for .15.

Over the next 19 years, one of the few changes to Tik Tok's architecture was a fantastic addition to its neon signage. The simple neon letters on the pylon spelling out “Tik Tok” were removed. In their place, a giant coffee cup was added to the base of the pylon with neon “steam” working its way up the spire. A new slogan was also added in neon: “Time to Eat”. This animated marvel is still remembered with awe.

The Tik Tok was open 24 hours a day from 1938 to 1957 when Mr. Marriott and Mr. Williams sold the business to the Harris brothers. The Tik Tok served customers for another 14 years before the neon was turned off for the last time in 1971.

If you'd like to see more please visit our Tik Tok page located here.

We're always looking for more history to present with each of the businesses we feature so please let us know if you have any memories, stories, souvenirs or photos of these wonderful places.


Pfeiffer Photos said...

Very cool post! Thanks for the husband's grandparents used to take him and the siblings to Yaws and I bet they tried Tik Tok, too. Do you have any photos of The Speck? My folks ate there in high school (back when Washington HS was still in service in PDX.)

Tod said...

Yea my folks went to Washington High School also and cruised the Speck. I live right by it now and want to start up a couple of summer cruise-ins there. Would love to see some old photos of that place.


Vintage Roadside said...

Tina & Tod - We've got a couple photos of the Speck on Powell but neither are that "perfect" shot. We might have a lead on a couple more and will be sure and write a post about the Speck if we track them down.