Lost Tables | Remembering The Parkmoor

McGinley Brothers

BY HARLEY HAMMERMAN

Ever wondered what happened to that restaurant you once loved and have memories of dining at with your family and friends? We did! There is an amazing website called Lost Tables, dedicated to celebrating the restaurants of our past. We are partnering with the site’s creator Harley Hammerman and celebrating these wonderful stories. Hammerman and his wife Marlene are members of Shaare Emeth, and she is past president of the National Council of Jewish Women of St. Louis.   Visit Lost Tables on Facebook 


William Louis “Louie” McGinley was born on November 25, 1898 in Norman, Oklahoma. When he was six, his family moved to the resort town of Mineral Wells, Texas. Hotels became the family business, and young Louie quickly took to the world of hospitality.

At the onset of World War I, McGinley moved with his family to Wichita Falls, Texas. Rather than finish high school, he studied typing, shorthand and bookkeeping at a commercial college in Tyler, Texas, where he met Ellen Adelle Robertson. The two were married a short time thereafter and moved to Ranger, Texas, where McGinley worked selling cars for Goad Motor Company.

McGinley had an older brother Mack, who was creative and highly visual. After returning from military service in World War I, Mack joined his brother selling cars at Goad.

While at Goad, Mack came up with the idea of an “auto soda server” – a tray that could attach to the side of an automobile to serve beverages.

Together, the McGinley brothers built a prototype of Mack’s service tray, applied for a patent and began manufacturing and delivering “TrayCo Service Trays” to drugstores, confection shops and refreshment stands. Eventually, Mack would sell his shares of the Tray Service Company to his brother, Louie.

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The viability of TraCo trays was dependent on the viability of the fledgling curb-service business. So McGinley set out traveling the country in his Model T Ford, determined to sell the concept of drive-in restaurants.

McGinley’s cross-country trek led him to St. Louis, where drive-in restaurants and curb-service were not yet popular. He realized that St. Louis restaurants were resistant to curb-service because they didn’t understand it. So to help them realize the boon it would be, he opened his own curb-service restaurant.

McGinley called his drive-in restaurant The Parkmoor. It opened on Clayton Road at Big Bend on July 15, 1931, and Clayton police had to be summoned to direct the carloads of customers who turned out. Carhops in bright orange jackets and white hats weaved in and out, serving 16-cent sandwiches and 5-cent Cokes on McGinley’s aluminum trays.

The Parkmoor’s business took off. It attracted a wealthy clientele from Clayton and University City. The greatest portion of the business came from students at Washington University. Sit-down dining was offered in addition to curb-service.

Click here to read more about the history of The Parkmoor on LostTables.com