Sivils Drive-In restaurant opened at the triangle where West Davis meets Fort Worth Avenue in 1940.
J.D. and Louise Sivils had opened their original restaurant in Houston, and they discovered that hiring “pretty girls” as carhops would draw more customers. Louise Sivils modeled the Sivils carhop outfits after drill team uniforms.
This short documentary, “Carhops,” was filmed in the early 1970s, presumably after Sivils closed in 1970. It was directed by Pat Korman, and it is a real gem.
Here’s a quote from the film, from J.D. Sivils:
The girls had to be real pretty, the prettiest girls we could find. And we had really the pick of the field because jobs were real hard to get then, and we could really pick out the girls we wanted. They weren’t too short or not too tall and not too fat.
The restaurant was featured on the cover of Life magazine in February 1940, and after that, Louise Sivils received letters from all over the country, young women who wanted to work there.
The Sivils Drive-In girls earned $3 a day, plus tips of nickels and dimes. There were as many as 100 carhops working every day in the restaurant’s heyday.
Most of “Carhops” was filmed at Keller’s Drive-In on Northwest Highway. Watch part two, below, where carhops the pro carhops of Keller’s explain how they deal with rowdy customers. And check out our profile of 73-year-old Shirley Ehney, who has worked as a Keller’s carhop for 50 years. Jack Keller, who started his drive-in empire on Samuell Boulevard in the early ’60s, died earlier this year at age 88.