Zesto Drive-In

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Zesto Drive-In
Industry Food
Founded 1945
Products Fast food, including hamburgers, french fries, ice cream, banana splits, and homemade/ hand blended milkshakes

Zesto Drive-In was a chain of drive-in restaurants featuring ice cream and frozen custard. Several Zesto restaurants continue to operate today, but they are independently owned and no longer part of an organized chain.


Zesto was started by entrepreneur and inventor L.A.M. Phelan as a national franchise chain. Phelan was head of the Taylor Freezer Corporation, which in 1945 had developed the "Zest-O-Mat" frozen custard machine, and franchise agreements granted exclusive use of the Zest-O-Mat machines in a given territory under the Zesto name.[1] The first known Zesto Drive-In opened in Jefferson City, Missouri;[2] dozens more opened in the late 1940s and early 1950s, mostly in the U.S. South and Midwest. By 1955, however, Taylor Freezer Corp. had reportedly grown frustrated with managing a retail business and dealing with unhappy franchisees, so it abandoned the Zesto concept and left the remaining franchisees to fend for themselves.[3]

While some former franchisees continued to operate under different names, others retained the Zesto name, and they do so today independently of each other and without support from a governing franchise structure. Among the cities where locally owned Zestos currently operate include Evansville, Indiana; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Clarksville, Indiana; Pierre, South Dakota; Seattle, Washington; Atlanta, Georgia; Columbia, South Carolina; Fremont, Nebraska; Lincoln, Nebraska;Wahoo, Nebraska; Jefferson City, Missouri; and Omaha, Nebraska where it currently operates across from TD Ameritrade Park Omaha host of the College World Series.

The Zesto trademark is currently controlled by Zesto Inc., a Missouri corporation owned by Harold Brown, who operates the first known Zesto in Jefferson City, Missouri, and registered the mark in 1985. Brown's company grants exclusive rights to use the Zesto name by territory.[4]


  1. ^ Court of Civil Appeals of Texas (May 20, 1953). "Patrini v. McAninch". Patrini v. McAninch. Findacase.com. Retrieved September 4, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Zesto's History". Zestodrivein.com. Retrieved September 5, 2011. 
  3. ^ "About Zesto Atlanta". Retrieved September 4, 2011. 
  4. ^ Piersol, Richard (April 9, 2007). "Local couple settle over restaurant name". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved September 4, 2011. 

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