Park and chow

Once upon a time, way before drive-throughs and quick-shops, people actually set out to eat in their cars. On purpose. For fun…

A ‘monument’ to this retro dining experience still exists. At 80 years (apparently) and counting, the Dollhouse in Louis Botha avenue is believed to be the oldest roadhouse in Johannesburg.

Admittedly, its glory days are long – no, really long – gone. Even our waiter seemed tired. “I’ve been here since before you were born… 35 years…” he said with the hanging shoulders of someone who’s seen that ‘w’ in ‘waffles’ drop off the sign board to never be replaced again. BUT the trays are metal and hook onto your window like they should and the strawberry milkshake, chunky chips, and the ‘Blondie’, which has a patty, steak, bacon and eggs stacked neatly between some toasties, get the thumbs up.

My dad is old enough to have started coming here in the early 50s, first arriving with older friends from whom he could bum a lift, and later driving his girlfriends over in his own grey Volla – left-hand drive (his emphasis). “Ag man. Eating in your car wasn’t weird. You’re mos the boss in your car,” he said somewhat irately during our ‘interview’ which included tangents about another roadhouse, the nuisance of wearing ties to fancy restaurants back in the day, and the speaker boxes at some obscure Christian drive-in.

He can’t remember the food – just that there were chips with everything, and that you flicked your lights when you were done. I guess some things change… some things stay the same.

These are NOT the best pics, but to check out the Dollhouse yourself, head to 377 Louis Botha avenue, Highlands North.

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