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Merle’s Drive-in

Picture of Paul Wormser, Library Director

Paul Wormser, Library Director

Merle’s Drive-in at MacArthur and Coast Highway, May 9th, 1952. Beckner Collection, Sherman Library.

Merle’s Coffee shop opened in 1951 at the corner of Coast Highway and MacArthur Blvd., a space now occupied by the Corona del Mar Plaza. Merle’s, which billed itself as a drive-in, offered a typical menu of coffee shop staples.  In the early 1960s, the restaurant changed ownership and Merle’s became The Zoo drive-in.  Perhaps the most memorable feature of The Zoo was the gorilla-costumed employee who stood on the corner to attract customers.

Interior of Merle's Coffee Shop, 1952. Beckner Collection, Sherman Library.
Miss Orange County, Miss Cypress and an unidentified woman with the Zoo’s gorilla on MacArthur Blvd., 1968. Sherman Photograph Collection, Sherman Library.