I wanted to spend time talking about how a place like Keller’s brings all sorts of people together. How I saw fancy oil men in suits with their Mercedes next to truckers with aggressive gun-based bumper stickers next to stoned SMU kids next to young Latin families, and all of that created a melting pot and blah blah blah #OneAmerica. But maybe that’s reading too much into it. After all, as the owner gloriously put it to the Dallas paper when asked who his customer base was, “People who like hamburgers, I guess.”
And though I saw all of those people eating their No. 5s or No. 8s or No. 3s or No. 1s and enjoying the George Strait on the juke box, I realized that a place like Keller’s may bring them together in proximity, but each group is fenced off in their own car. At Keller’s, it’s really just you, your car, and your burger. Drive-ins, in many ways, are solitary places that feel communal. It’s like eating a meal in a library cubicle, except with better music and beer. And that’s actually kind of a nice thing. So much of eating in cars is on the go, as drive-thrus replaced drive-ins, the kind of eating that is strictly sustenance- and convenience-based. At Keller’s, sitting in your car, it’s the opposite. You’re not grabbing random bites as you drive, trying not to spill ketchup on your blazer, or cramming as much as possible in at the stoplight. You can sit back and reflect on your day, your week, or hell, your life.