Shake it up, baby!

Waitress Tawnie Clark has been working at Scooper’s since 1990. She says she often knows exactly what some her repeat customers will order before they order it.

Waitress Tawnie Clark has been working at Scooper’s since 1990. She says she often knows exactly what some her repeat customers will order before they order it.

Photo By David Robert

Scoopers Drive-In

1356 Prater Way
Sparks, NV 89431

(775) 331-6221

The drive-in restaurant has pretty much disappeared into the permanent mist of extinction as corporate fast-food chains have long taken over the American roadside. Most of the drive-ins that survived simply evolved into drive-throughs. But at Scooper’s Drive-In in Sparks, the Hires root beer floats still foam, the R.C. Cola still flows, and malteds are alive and well. Judging by the full parking lot at Scooper’s, very well.

Drive-ins are American institutions. Burgers, fries, shakes, malteds, floats. Like a classic ‘50s rock tune, this is the stuff of nostalgia and old-fashioned American Graffitti-style fun.

When you drive in to Scooper’s, it suddenly feels like you have driven back into the past—at least 60 years ago. The lettering on the signs and the covered drive-in spots seem like something from the Eisenhower era. If the drive-in is full, they also have an enclosed dining room and an outside seating area; the place is pretty big. Everybody eats at Scooper’s, from construction workers to students, families, business professionals, firefighters and cops. This is the type of place that has no need for pretentiousness, just plain ole burgers, fries and shakes.

At a place like Scooper’s, you need to have a shake with your burger. That’s need. It’s just not as enjoyable without it. The folks at Scooper’s know how to make awesome milk shakes. They have just about every flavor of shake you could imagine—from the traditional vanilla, chocolate and strawberry to the wacky marshmallow, peanut butter, Oreo, cookie dough, lime and even pumpkin.

My girlfriend, Chérie, and I were driving back into Reno after a road trip, and we almost passed Scooper’s. When we saw it, we turned and looked at each other with wide eyes and said, “Let’s go there!” After a road trip, Scooper’s was the perfect cure for “toomuchtrafficitis.” We got out of the car and walked up to the window and both ordered the No. 4: a quarter-pound cheeseburger, fries, and a large shake for $6.79. I got a chocolate shake and Chérie had a pumpkin shake. I am a firm believer that a chocolate shake is the appropriate accoutrement for a cheeseburger and fries and anything else is just wrong. Chérie said that her pumpkin shake rocked.

We were both happy campers as we took our food back to my car, listened to Beck’s Midnite Vultures and enjoyed a taste of America.

The bill was under 15 bucks for both of us, and the shakes were awesome. I am not going to mention any names, but I know of at least one fast-food chain drive-through that charges about 10 bucks for two large shakes the same size we had at Scooper’s. They just can’t even begin to compete with Scooper’s mom-and-pops ‘50s style.

As I was leaving the drive-in spot, I noticed a couple of hand-written menu additions. One was a half-pound corned beef on rye, and the other was called a “Bad Dog,” which turned out to be a bacon-wrapped, deep-fried hot dog. Sounds like trouble—on the way in and probably on the way out—but who knows. I will definitely be back for a banana milk shake—one of my all-time favorites, and maybe to try that corned beef. I am getting hungry all over again just writing about it.