Between 1950 and 1980, there were several drive-in restaurants north of Dodge Street and east of North 72nd Street. One of the longest memories of many Omahans from that era was a place located at 4519 Cuming Street. This is a history of Shada’s Drive-In.
After serving in World War II, Kenneth Shada (1927-2012) ran a few drive-in restaurants in Kearney and Hastings before moving to Omaha. In 1955, he opened Shada’s Drive-In with his brother Charles at the southeast end of the Northwest Radial Highway where it intersects with Cuming and Saddle Creek Streets. Several of their family members worked there, too.
For the next five years, Shada’s Drive-In was on the then-edge of west Omaha. The neighborhood around Shada’s was a post-war suburban dream with nice homes, leafy trees, busy roadways, and fun businesses for young people and adults. Part of a circuit for high school students cruising through the area, Shada’s was packed typically on Friday and Saturday nights, and busy the rest of the week. It was an era when fast food was newly available to everyone in a car, and the novelty of pulling up to a restaurant and ordering your food from a box was a big deal. Shada’s was the first in Omaha to feature speakerphones.
From those speakerphones, customers could order a variety of menu items from Shada’s including fried chicken, roast turkey, ham, individual chicken pot pies, hamburgers, and fried fish. They also served milkshakes, ice cream sodas, root beer floats, and coca-cola.
Shada’s knew their customers too, with early help wanted ads that said plainly, “If you are attractive and between 18 and 30, you can make BIG money as a car hop.”
In 1960, the owners of Tiner’s Drive-In chain bought Shada’s Drive-In. The location was renamed Tiner’s Drive-In Number 5.