O’FALLON, Mo. – A St. Louis staple praised for cooking Missouri’s best burger has plans to start up the engines and enter new territory.
Carl’s Drive-In has served the St. Louis region for more than 60 years at its Route 66-inspired restaurant in Brentwood. The company is exploring expansion out west in O’Fallon, Missouri in the form of a multi-purpose, large-scale entertainment complex.
Plans call for a burger joint similar to the one in Brentwood, in addition to a state-of-the-art go-kart racetrack, a six-lane super slide and a 50-foot tall swing tower.
David Kraemer, who bought the Carl’s Drive-In franchise in 2021, recently submitted a proposal for such a complex off the DD exit of Highway 40. to the O’Fallon City Council. Nathan Bibb, a third ward councilman in O’Fallon, shared renderings of the concept last week via Facebook, drawing positive reception from hundreds.
“It’s such a growing city, and we think it needs a little more entertainment,” says Kramer. “I’ve seen a lot of really good signs that people are wanting this.”
The proposal will be reviewed at a planning and zoning commission meeting on Oct. 6. If approved, Kraemer tells FOX 2 the new Carl’s Drive-In site could become a reality next summer.
The original Carl’s Drive-In restaurant opened in the 9000 block of Manchester Road in 1959, priding itself for “crispy-edged burgers, footlong hotdogs and homemade root beer.” Kraemer’s ulimate goal is to keep the original restaurant’s charm intact, while providing award-winning recipes to more St. Louis area markets.
“We have a lot of generations come through, getting grandkids to come in, and now they’re bringing kids in,” said Kraemer. “We get such a rush, and we get a lot of people who say they want to potentially go out west. We’re hoping to share that excitement, get families together outdoors and share the love of Carl’s across the board.”
Carl’s Drive-In has teamed up SkyView Partners, LLC, a St. Louis-based amusement ride supplier, for the non-restaurant elements. The go-karts are intended to be environmentally friendly and reduce noise pollution. The slides and swings would offer features similar to local carnivals.
“There’s not a whole lot of entertainment like this in St. Louis,” said Kraemer. “We’re clearly loved and we got great food, it’s just a matter of letting other people experience and enjoy [Carl’s Drive-In].”
The green light for Kraemer and avid go-kart drivers could come sooner than later. Kraemer says the project could pave the way more Carl’s Drive-In franchise locations in the St. Louis region, including self-standing restaurants and entertainment parks.