Paul's Drive In is South Kansas City's premiere location to buy made-to-order smash burgers, onion rings, tater tots, ice creams desserts (like shakes, makes, cyclones, banana splits, and cones) as well as many unique sandwiches like our famous pork tenderloins and Italian steaks. Chili cheese dogs are a new, but growing, favorite. Come dine in our 86 seat restaurant or pull up and order at the drive thru in the Ruskin Heights neighborhood.
In the mid-1960s, Paul Rhoades decided to open a second fast-food establishment. He was already operating Big Boy in Independence Mo. So he purchased Ron Stein's DOG-N-SUDS at 104th and Blue Ridge Blvd. He turned it into a combination pizza and fast food drive-in restaurant; a simple car hop business that he called Paul’s Pizza!
The pizza thing never really caught on but the burgers, fried tenderloins, Italian steaks, and homemade onion rings were a hit. So he eventually dropped the pizza concept in the early 70s and changed the name to Paul’s Drive In, turned the carport into a dining room, and expanded the building by adding the drive-through. Paul’s Drive In was an instant hit with the locals and became a South Kansas City “go-to place." In the late 70s Paul’s other business was doing so well he decided to sell Paul’s to a long-time friend, Gary Morgan.
Gary operated Paul’s under the same name “because of the success." No need to change it. He ran Paul’s until 1988 when he stepped away and sold the restaurant to another long-time friend of Paul, Robert Helton. Everything was kept the same and it has operated with great success to many generations of loyal, local customers!
In their 33 years as owners, Bob and Kathy Helton had a few car shows but couldn’t continue those because they couldn’t accommodate all the parking. They used to have several baseball teams come through when they had tournaments at Clark-Ketterman. That was a joy! In October 1995, there was a devastating fire that closed Paul's for about 54 days... the longest it's been closed in 60+ years. But Bob worked tirelessly with other employees and contractors to get up and running again.
In October 2021, Scott Shepherd and business partner Adam Brown bought the building and business so that Bob and Kathy could retire. They kept the same menu and same employees and have run it ever since. While modernizing the business with new computers, efficient LED lighting, state of the art grill, and an online presence that was lacking, the pair of owners have tried to keep the classic feel alive. They know it's not just a restaurant... it's a legacy!