by Steven Doyle
The pig is so much more than bacon. From the lowly swine we have experienced much in the way of restaurant innovation; innovation that started right here in Dallas. Texas. In October of 1921 Jessie Kirby built hi very first of what would soon be a successful string of drive-in’s called The Pig Stand. The success of the idea surrounded with the notion that people were just too lazy to get out of their cars. Kirby brought the lazy drivers to his stand and were met by very young teenage boys decked out in white shorts and black bow ties who earned the title ‘carhops’ because they would jump on the running boards of cars often as soon as they hit the parking lot.
The first Pig Stand was located in Oak Cliff on Chalk Hill Road, but soon expanded to 130 locations in 9 states with the bulk of the operations in California.There was even a location on Greenville Avenue. The convenience of driving up to dine without leaving your car was an instant smash success as the restaurants rolled out burgers and Tennessee barbeque pork sandwich called the Pig Sandwich. More innovation occurred in 1929 when an employee inadvertently dropped a slice of onion into a bowl of batter, and instead of tossing the mistake he plunged it into the fryer thus creating the first onion ring. The chain also created the first drive through window in California.
The Pig Stand is also credited for creating Texas Toast. An early car hop named Royce Hailey eventually took over the operations of The Pig Stands across the country. Hailey asked Ranbow Bakery to thicken the slices of bread they were using, but were sent bread that was too thick to fit inside the stand’s toasters. Thinking on his feet, Hailey slathered butter across the bread and placed it on the griddle, thus creating what he dubbed Texas Toast.
More innovations such as the first chicken fried steak sandwich came from The Pig Stand. The chain eventually dwindled in size and was sold to Hailey’s son Richard Hailey who has since morphed The Pig Stand into the more refined Woodfire Kirby’s located in Dallas, thus bringing everything full circle.