Friday Flashback #231

Westport’s first fast-food franchise was Dairy Queen, on the Post Road near downtown.

That DQ (not to be confused with the one further east, where Little Barn is now) later became the Crest Drive-In. Much later — after demolition — that was the site of Qdoba. Today it’s vacant.

Westport has had other national fast food chains — Roy Rogers, for example (now McDonald’s). And Arby’s.

But that roast beef franchise — most notable for never having, to my knowledge, one single customer, ever — was not the first at that spot.

In the late 1960s, Carrol’s opened there. It was a red-letter day for Westport teenagers.

(Courtesy of Stephen King)

Burgers were cheap. Parking was easy. You could hang out with friends, talk loudly, and pretend you were at a real fast food place, like Burger King.

(Courtesy of Thomas O’Connell)

Which Carrol’s became, after Carrol’s. And before Arby’s.

The drive-thru window is still there. But today it’s a Starbucks.

If that doesn’t say something about how Westport has changed, I don’t know what does.


40 responses to “Friday Flashback #231

  1. Dorrie (Barlow) Thomas

    Did Arby’s happen twice in Westport? I ask because my memory is that Arby’s was not at the Carrol’s/Burger King/Starbucks location, but at the former site of Big Top, between Roseville and Crescent Road. McDonald’s came after Arby’s. What I don’t recall is whether there was anything there between Big Top closing and Arby’s opening…anyone know?

  2. For what it’s worth, the thee cars are early ’60s, a Ford and two Chevys. My brain can’t remember the years, but they are cars of the era when I was in high school, though not in Westport.

  3. Hahahahahaha great Dan. Not only were there no customers, but when I went in was the only one. Great.

  4. Which of our classmates worked there? Didn’t Missy F work there at one point? Between Carrols, DQ, and World of Wieners, I think the fast-food chains in the Post Rd provided major job opportunities for the class of ‘71.

  5. Melinda Hemson

    Dorrie, Before McD’s, it was Roy Rogers. There was never an Arby’s there

  6. My mom used to buy Carols burgers for the dog because they were on 15 cents

  7. I worked at that Carrols in 1971! I won a hamburger eating contest there later that year (17 eaten-buns and all).

  8. I bet more than a few of us still have those Looney Tunes character glasses Carrols gave away during the 70s.

  9. Big Top became Roy Rogers then McDonald’s
    I miss Roy Rogers
    The Carrols became a Burger King, then Arby’s now Starbucks

  10. When those fast food stands started about 70 years ago a hamburger changed into a thin patty sort of off-grey all the way thru. But there are still places for people who know a REAL burger. One is the Engine Room in Mystic.

    • Or Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, which claims to be the birthplace of the hamburger, and which has no ketchup on the premises. I haven’t been there in a long time but it was always outstanding.

  11. Do you remember a drive-thru car wash next door? Right across the street from Carvel?

    • Sonny DeMattio’s car wash. Later Hay Day. Briefly McLaughlin (women’s clothing). Now— Maserati & Alfa Romeo Dealership. Car wash to Maserati.

  12. When I was about 16, I went to Carrols to apply for a job. The manager looked be over and said “get a haircut.” This was circa 1972. Ummm, okay. Off to the barber (Tony up at the Weston Center). I went back three days later and the manager said: “get a haircut.” I never went back (Big Top and DQ were better eats anyway).

    PS: Kevin, you are thinking of “The Crest” at Playhouse Square which was the original Sam Goody’s location.

  13. Carrol’s was originally owned by Tastee-Freez and was named after the Tastee-Freez co-owner Leo Marantz’s daughter, Carol. The burger shops were re-branded in 1976 with the King character to better compete with McDonald’s coterie of cartoonish mascots (Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese, Grimace, et al.) Carrol’s, the largest Burger King franchisee in the world, owns and operates over 1,000+ Burger Kings, and 55 Popeye’s restaurants. The company has operated Burger Kings since 1976 in locations across 23 U.S. states. (Courtesy Wikipedia.)

  14. Two words: Shake Shack

  15. I worked at Carroll’s for several years during high school and college in the late 60’s in Buffalo, NY. I believe the Chain was based in Syracuse, NY.

  16. A few misc. things I would like to add to the various topics being tossed around above:
    1) I actually had Shake Shack for the first time today in years. It’s crazy expensive and just “decent” , especially at $9.00 a burger!
    2) After having Shake Shack, it made me miss even more my longtime time
    New England favorite, Friendlys. Back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, there was NOTHING better than the Big Beef Burger on WHITE TOAST!
    Add to it an order of fries and a Fribble and your meal was made!!
    3) Since Starbucks’s was mentioned: how soon before somebody gets seriously injured in a car accident due to the cars lining on the Post Rd. at the location where Arby’s (uggghhh!) used to be! Whatever town planning body allowed Starbucks to go in there should have head their heads examined……..not to mention the people that line up 20 cars deep in order to get their bougie fix of caffeine. I know, I know… each his/her own.

    • Instead of Starbucks, just go to Shearwater (Bertucci’s old location). No need to be stuck on the Post Rd. and lots parking. The coffee and espresso drinks are better, too.

    • David I hear ya on all 3 counts. And yes I admit I am partial to Shake Shack, for one reason because I can walk there. Second, they only use fresh beef from Pat LaFrieda, the maestro of meat. I too absolutely miss Friendly’s, as they let you and your friends sit in that booth all day (we even named our cat Fribble.) And must agree with Matt Murray about Shearwater’s quality and parking plus you are patronizing a local business

  17. I remember going to Carrols with our family and having the chocolate pudding parfait. That was unforgettable

  18. I worked at Carrol’s for a brief stint while in college (c. 1969 – 1970). Not one of my favorite part time jobs !!

  19. Isabelle Breen

    Friendly’s, wasn’t that where Wafu is now? (Southport not Bedford Sq.).
    What about Fuddrucker’s burgers?

  20. Carrols was great. Worked for a summer (1967, I think) , at their location that was next to Aitoros, long gone. They were competition to McDonalds.

  21. To all of you who worked at Carrols, you must have had a good haircut! :^)

  22. As I recall, Carrol’s usually had an orange (flavor & color) milk shake around Halloween…
    …and to anyone who wanted to salt their fries at the Friendly’s in Playhouse Sq in the 70’s and had the cap fall off the shaker – sorry.

  23. Club Burgers

  24. The Crest was located at the now Playhouse Square , on the L/side near the location of the gas station ..

  25. Patricia Blaufuss

    Last month, Dan ran a photo of the Crest Drive-In in late ’60s:

  26. What years was KFC at Post and Maple?

  27. DeMattio had a Shell station on the Post Road across from the Clam Box. They also owned a store called the House of Buys which was an original discount store–they had everything in cartons with nothing on display. My father bought my Lionel trains there. Mrs DeMattio was a teacher in Burr Farms School.

    • I always remember it as the House of Buys too. But apparently it was the House of Byse — cleverly (if confusingly) named for its owner, Abraham B. Beiser.

  28. I remember when the Dairy Queen (pre-DQ) was opened around 1950. It was not far from the Saugatuck Congregational Church, shortly after it was moved across the Post Road (and made the cover of Life magazine!). Even then my mom, who was the organist at Saugatuck, wouldn’t let me go there because she disapproved of junk food. She lived to be 101, so maybe she had something there….

  29. Margaret Rynshall

    My very first job was at the Carroll’s in Norwalk in 1969. Steve Ragowsky also worked there. I still have a plastic bag puppet they gave out. I moved up to Dairy Queen the next year and worked there through high school and sometimes during college breaks. The Improtas who owned it were good people.