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Cool Things - Drive-in Menu Boards

Bobo's menu board from 1953

Bobo's Drive-In has been called a Topeka institution.  These menu boards date from its earliest years in the capital city.

Thirty cents for a burger, a nickel for a root beer, and two dimes for a slice of apple pie would be an unheard of bargain today, but it was a good deal even in the 1950s for patrons of Bobo's Drive-In restaurant.

Bobo's has been a Topeka favorite since 1948, when its first location opened at 1212 S.W. Huntoon.  Husband-and-wife Bob and Elsie Bobo and son Orville started the business that quickly became a popular local burger joint. 

A second location opened in 1953 at 10th and MacVicar.  The pictured menu boards are from this site; one dates to the opening of this business, the other from within a year or two.  The drive-in nature of Bobo's is indicated by the message across the bottom of the earliest board (above, right):  "Flash Lights for Service, Please."  The diner stool also is original to the MacVicar storefront.

Bobo's menu board circa 1955

One Bobo's menu item has always been popular at all locations—the apple pie.  Orville Bobo once said that the recipe was "devised" by his mother and an aunt, and made from "fresh apples and a subtle blend of spices." When the Food Network visited Bobo's to film a segment of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in 2007, the crew sampled the Spanish double cheeseburger, the chili-covered hot dog, and the homemade onion rings.  Host Guy Fieri reserved his greatest compliment for the pie, saying, "The apple pie is bananas!  And by bananas, I mean it is great!"

Ownership of Bobo's Huntoon drive-in has changed over the years.  The original Huntoon location closed in 1988.  The Bobo family sold the MacVicar business to Bob Humes in 1988, who in turn sold it to Richard and Tricia Marsh in 2007.  The Marshes added a second location on Topeka's west side in 2011.

Original diner stool from Bobo's MacVicar location

Bobo's continues to receive accolades.  The Kansas Sampler Foundation proclaimed the drive-in one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine in 2009.

The menu boards and the stools were donated to the Kansas Historical Society's Kansas Museum of History in 1987 by Orville Bobo, Jr., who was active in the business with his parents from the beginning.  Some original stools have been placed in the permanent collection, while others were refurbished and made available to visitors in the main gallery's diner vignette.

 

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Entry: Cool Things - Drive-in Menu Boards

Author: Rebecca Martin

Date Created: October 2011

Date Modified: November 2011

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.