Ruby’s, Sonic bring back carhops on roller skates


Carhops — particularly skating ones — are making a mini-comeback in the ultracompetitive world of fast-food dining.

Call it a cultural backlash to the ultratechy, assembly-line world of fast food and drive-throughs that spit out orders faster than you can say, “Hold the pickles.”

As summer approaches, two chains, Sonic Drive-In and Ruby’s Diner, are re-embracing roller-skating carhops whose jobs are as much to entertain experience-hungry customers as to roll out the grub.

Last week, the 48-unit Ruby’s opened its first location with skates-wearing carhops whisking folks their orders. A week earlier, Sonic rolled out a national ad campaign featuring four roller-skating employees who brag about the chain’s food and fun — as Sonic attempts to return to its skating roots.

“I call it burger and fries, with a little floor show,” says Robert Thompson, pop culture guru professor at Syracuse University. “If you’re on a date, and someone can roller-skate up with your root beer, that’s entertainment.”

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