Entrepreneur Matt Korn opened a tiny restaurant here in 1930 featuring a drive-in window, an idea he imported from southern California. Matt’s Place was likely Montana’s first drive-in, but unlike its California counterparts, this business never advertised. Good food built its reputation and business boomed. Korn married, added upstairs living quarters, and expanded the drive-in to include curb service. In 1936, high school student Mabel Waddell, who used to visit Korn’s tiny drive-in window as a child, joined the staff of seven carhops. Korn had “Mae” embroidered on her uniform prompting Mabel to change her name. Mae continued to work at Matt’s Place, went to beauty school, graduated, and became engaged to teamster Louis Laurence. When a deal to buy her own shop fell through, Louis and Mae bought Matt’s Place in 1943. They spent their honeymoon waiting on customers. The couple couldn’t afford a new sign, so the name remained. When Louis passed away in 1962, Mae saw to it that her longtime customers didn’t miss a homemade burger or a shake. During better than half a century behind the counter, more than 28 family members have worked for Mae at the drive-in, whose menu hasn’t changed since the 1930s. Matt’s Place won national acclaim for its fabulous made-from-scratch cuisine, vintage equipment, and period furnishings. One gentleman summed it up when he signed Mae’s guest book, “Now I know it’s not the mountains and lakes that makes Montana special – it’s Matt’s Place!”

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2339 Placer Street, Butte, Montana