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Prayers, Doughnuts and Booze in the Drive-Thru Lane

Yep, it's the quality (Photos by Rena Kosnett)

“Everybody comes in,” says Trish. “The most popular items are milk and cigarettes.” Some do all of their grocery shopping at the dairy.

“Those are the people who keep us in business,” she says. “We’re the place to go if you don’t want to go to Vons and wait in line. And the best part is that people come in their jammies and curlers with their kids asleep in the back seat.”

The drawback: Since you can’t see inside the store, you have to know what you want. At the nearby Alta Dena Dairy Express, you can drive right up to the cashier, and everything is pretty much on display, from dairy products to deli meats. But the express mart doesn’t have as many convenience-store items like shaving cream, and the cashier is too busy text messaging on her Razr to care what we want.

Both places sell beer and wine, but you have to get out of your car and walk up — it’s the law. But it’s odd because it’s not like you aren’t going to get back in your car with that closed container and drive away anyway. And getting out of the car is cheating on the drive-thru experience — there are all kinds of businesses that call themselves drive-thru, but really what they mean is that you can park by the front door. You still have to walk inside.

I had heard there was a real drive-thru liquor mart in Echo Park. We don’t quite find our liquor nirvana, but on Glendale Boulevard off Alvarado, we do find the Hi-Ho Drive n’ Mart, which is also known as Hi-Ho the Dairy Store. At 5 p.m. it’s an oasis surrounded by bumper-to-bumper traffic. A bonus, we discover, is Medina’s Flowers, a drive-up flower shop — pull up and someone comes out to your car to fulfill your floral desires. The selection is pretty basic: daisies, carnations, roses, lilies and sometimes even an orchid or two. We pulled around to the other side and ordered a bottle of white wine. Inside, Hi-Ho was more a small grocery store than a liquor mart or dairy — we spotted everything from diapers to laundry detergent. The wine, a chilled bottle of Chardonnay, was hand-delivered to me in my car. And by the time we got home to discover the winds had knocked out our power, I was very content to drink by candlelight, away from my car.

More pictures of the prayer booth, the Donut Hole and other drive-thrus Where to Drive ThruStarbucks Coffee (with drive-thru windows): 3020 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 314-1400; 1850 W. Slauson Ave., L.A., (323) 292-4429; 941 N. La Brea Ave., Inglewood, (310) 412-2370.V.I. Cigarettes, 246 N. Glendale Ave., Glendale, (818) 551-0946;Tobacco Zone, 329 W. Los Feliz Rd., Glendale, (818) 244-3957. The Main Place Christian Fellowship Church prayer booth, in the parking lot across the street from the church, which is at 13841 Red Hill Ave., Tustin, (714) 505-1734.The Donut Hole, 15300 E. Amar Rd., La Puente, (626) 968-2912.Alta Dena Dairy, 4420 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, (818) 845-6167. Alex’s Alta Dena Express Mini Mart, 2801 N. Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank, (818) 238-9820.Hi-Ho the Dairy Store and Medina’s Flowers, 1401 Glendale Blvd., L.A., (213) 483-6429 (market) and (213) 353-0381 (flower shop).

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