Morgan Memories – Stewart’s Root Beer Stand
There was nothing better on a hazy, hot, and humid summer day than to bike over between Stevens Avenue and Vineyard Avenue on the northbound side of Route 35 to get a California cheese burger and a frosty cold glass mug overflowing with a root beer float at Stewart’s Drive-In. Remember the orange colored wooden stand? If your bike couldn’t handle the whole family, then driving up for the car hop service was another great experience. Much as was done with the sound speakers at the Amboy Drive-In on Route 9 near the EdisonBridge, a [young female] car hop would hang metal trays with rubberized feet containing your family’s meal off of the driver side window. Yum!!
In the 1960’s and 70’s – and probably earlier & later – Stewart’s was a seasonal restaurant with big wooden slats hinged to the roof which would be folded and locked down each evening and during the off season. There was no year round enclosed dining area as would come later (see photo). Patrons either stayed in their car or sat on a padded metal stool some where along one of the open windows. The slats kept the dining customers dry – and sometimes – shaded. I preferred the metal stools on the Vineyard Avenue side next to the freezer. This was the east side of the building and was shaded from the afternoon sun. One shouldn’t drink root beer in the morning after all.
Does anyone know when this stand was first built or anything else about its early days? Sadly, as of the time of this writing, all that is left of our beloved Stewart’s is a pile of rubble in the building’s footprint and a clothing donation box near Stevens Avenue. The restaurant was torn down sometime between the summer of 2005 and 2009.
Fortunately for those still living in Morgan, there are still over 20 other Stewart’s Restaurants in New Jersey. Looks like the closest is in Matawan. For the rest of us who live somewhere else where there are no nearby Stewart’s Drive-ins, bottled Stewart’s Root Beer is offered by many grocery store chains with that classic combination of root beer and maple syrup taste. You can even drink it in your car! While it is sad there are no Stewart’s in California where I live, we do have In-n-Outs.
Click here to see a short history of the Stewart’s Root Beer Drive-in Restaurant chain.
Originally posted on August 26, 2009.