Dreaming of More at Zesto Drive-In

Food & Drink / Stories / July 10, 2017

Enjoy extra fun facts about Zesto Drive-In in this special online article.

Check out additional photos from HER Magazine staff’s visit to Zesto for the July/August  2017 article “We All Scream for Ice Cream.”

Zesto Drive-In Fun Facts

•  Zesto Drive-In was originally named after the Zest-O-Matic soft serve machine. According to current Zesto Drive-In owner Chris Wrigley, the Zest-O-Matic inventor hired operators in 48 different stores across the United States, offering up its delectable soft serve and other food and treats to hungry patrons.

• “He found out he would make more money selling the machines than running the restaurants,” Wrigley said, noting most of the store operators ended up buying the Zesto stores to keep the restaurants open. “That is how Zesto started in the ice cream business, and it always had its soft serve.”

• Wrigley said the first Zesto in Jefferson City was opened in 1948 at the foot of St. Mary’s Hospital on Missouri Boulevard. The restaurant has seen different owners through the years, including longtime Zesto operator Harold Brown, whom the Brownie Supreme Sundae is aptly named. It also has had a couple of locations, with the current building on Jefferson Street opening in 1993.

• Zesto Drive-In restaurants still reside in Oklahoma City, Atlanta, Omaha, Indianapolis, California and Jefferson City, to name a handful. Wrigley said they are all licensees, locally owning and operating the restaurant.

•  Wrigley, and his wife, Cindy, bought Zesto in 2011 to carry on the same traditions they enjoyed — customers relishing in delicious, award-winning barbecue, sandwiches and delectable desserts they have enjoyed for years.

• Zesto Drive-In is well known for its barbecue, participating in numerous competitions and securing dozens of awards and trophies, including about four grand champion and about three Missouri champion titles.

• The Philly Cheese Brisket, specialty dogs (like the mac and cheese and pizza dog), Polish Reuben and tuna or chicken salad sandwiches are among the most popular food items at Zesto. “We don’t have any fried food. … We do what we do best,” Wrigley said.

• Zesto is also known for its ice cream favorites such as avalanches, milkshakes, sundaes and ice cream sodas, to name a few. Wrigley said cookie dough, strawberry shortcake, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and Oreo are some of the most popular avalanche flavors.

• Seeing a lot of local sports teams and families enjoying food or sweet treats inside or at its famous blue outside picnic tables is what makes Wrigley happy. “They bring their kids in, and they say they are the third generation to come here,” he said. “We have been known for always catering to the little kids and families, keeping our restaurant family-oriented.”

Zesto is located at 1730 Jefferson St. For more information, call 573-659-7117 or visit ZestoDriveInSouth.com.

Behind the Scenes: Zesto Drive-In
(Photo by Samantha Pogue) Zesto Drive-In Owner Chris Wrigley pumps velvety hot fudge onto the Brownie Supreme Sundae base, which includes a Ghirardelli brownie and Zesto's signature vanilla soft serve.
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Madeleine Leroux

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