The Hut drive-in restaurant, opened off Flagler Drive by Harold Hall in 1930, was very popular with military men and women based in West Palm Beach during World War II. After the war, The Hut went through a series of owners. In 1946, when the average check at The Hut was 40 cents, it was featured on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.
For decades, The Hut was the hangout of choice for teens of driving age. Coney Island hot dogs and burgers were delivered by curb service to the parking area, which fit up to 40 cars parked three-deep. Zell Davis, Jr., who graduated from Palm Beach High in 1944, later recalled:
Usually you either double- or triple-dated. … You put like 50 cents apiece in for gas. ... A dollar would buy you probably five gallons of gas. … [I]f you were 17, you might be trying to squeeze a beer out of somebody. And you’d get a milkshake and a hot dog. And everybody’s yelling at each other, “Hey Joe, how you been?” back and forth. It was like a big party, ‘cause everyone knew everyone.
And then there was always the guy who had the fast car, and I remember this one kid. … He backed his car out and he was gonna race someone. They were side by side, and they revved up their engines, and he snatched his car into gear and went into reverse and backed it into the lake. We all just loved it! ...
The waitresses—they took care of us. If somebody came in there who was 18 or 19 and they’d been drinking, they wouldn’t serve you anymore. They’d say to whoever was in the car, “If he’s driving, how about putting him over there and you drive?” … It wasn’t just a business there. They were really nice people, all of them.
The Hut closed in the 1970s. The Phillips Point office tower now covers the site, just north of the Royal Park Bridge.
Charles Patrick built the LaFrance Hotel in 1947 at 140 NW 4th Avenue, Delray Beach. As one of the few establishments in south Florida that rented rooms to African Americans, the hotel hosted black celebrities, such as Duke Ellington, who played area clubs during the segregation era of the 1950s and 1960s. The La France served as a winter home for seasonal labor from the North, and became a social center for Delray’s black community. It is recognized in the State of Florida’s Black Heritage Trail.