News

Showtime in Saugus: Kowloon to debut car hop/drive-in theater

Described by multiple sources as a place that could draw a crowd of nearly 2,000 on a Saturday night, Route 1’s Adventure Car Hop was one of the highway’s main attractions for more than two decades. (William B. MacGregor Jr. Watercolors)

SAUGUS — After more than a month of planning, Kowloon Restaurant is finally ready to get the party started this Thursday with the grand opening of its new car hop/drive-in movie theater.

“I’m very excited. I think it’s going to go well,” said Kowloon owner Bobby Wong. “We’re hoping it’s going to be something different.”

Early last month, Kowloon announced plans to turn their parking lot into a car hop with outdoor service, live entertainment, and big-screen TV for drive-in movies.

In a May 13 interview with the Item, owner Bobby Wong said the idea had actually been a long time in the making, but with social distancing guidelines remaining in effect through the warmer months, this summer seemed like a perfect time to implement the fun project.

“We were thinking outside the box, trying to figure out what else we can do,” he said. “In the past we’d dreamed about having a drive-in in the back, but we always knew that was kind of (out there) and we didn’t really take it seriously.”

The idea took off, however, and now Wong says he and his team are finally putting the finishing touches together before the big day.

Beginning at 6 and 8 p.m. Thursday, Customers will be able to enjoy a car-hop experience in Kowloon’s parking lot accompanied by a performance at no charge by award-winning vocal group, The Platters. Then on Tuesday, the grand opening will continue with a 7 p.m. showing of E.T.

Although Wong’s idea was borne from the necessity of devising creative dining solutions during the era of social distancing, Kowloon’s retro setup may remind some of another beloved dinner joint that ruled over the Route 1 restaurant scene throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Described by multiple sources as a place that could draw a crowd of nearly two thousand on a Saturday night, Route 1’s Adventure Car Hop was one of the highway’s main attractions for more than two decades.

“Almost all of us who grew up in Greater Boston in the benighted but beautiful period after World War II have a Route 1 memory,” the Boston Globe’s David M. Shribman wrote in 2011. “Mentioning Woo Woo Ginsburg’s name got you a two-for-one deal at the Adventure Car Hop there. A leaning tower of pizza still stands there. A bunch of cattle graze there, and of course a ship is docked there. My parents had their first date there.”

Like Shribman, many who grew up on the North Shore have fond memories of Adventure Car Hop and local joints like it. Now, Wong is happy to bring those memories back.

“Basically you punch in the order and somebody delivers the food like the car-hop system,” Wong said, adding that the new system may become a permanent part of Kowloon’s operations.

“We’ll run it through the summer and see what happens,” he said.

Parking spots for the car-hop can be reserved at no cost ahead of time. Otherwise, tables and spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Families attending the drive-in opening are required to purchase a $20 car or table voucher. Vehicle reservations are required and can be made at (781) 233-0077.

All attendees are required to follow state-mandated social distancing protocols.

More Stories From Saugus