Bridge restaurant

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A bridge restaurant or restaurant bridge is a restaurant, usually indoors, built like a bridge over a road, mostly over freeways or motorways. It usually provides access from both sides of the road without the need of crossing the road by tunnel or footbridge. The construction also attracts the attention of motorists, making it easy to find the rest area.

Europe's first bridge restaurant, built in 1959 in Fiorenzuola d'Arda, Italy


United States

The first bridge restaurant was built in 1957, over I-44 (Will Rogers Turnpike)[1] at the Vinita, Oklahoma, rest area. It is currently a McDonald's, Subway fast-food restaurant, and a Kum & Go gas station and was the world's largest until the opening of a larger location in Moscow, Russia. With the construction of the Illinois Tollway in 1958, five more bridge restaurants were built as Illinois Tollway Oases, opening in 1959. Further implementation of the concept in the United States has been hampered by US Code 23 Section 111, which prohibits commercial activities at the rest areas along the Interstate Highways. Although commercial activities existing before 1960 could continue and the unaffected turnpikes already had commercialized rest areas, no new restaurants were added. Despite this legislation, the Lincoln Oasis bridge restaurant has been opened in 1967.


The concept was introduced to Europe in 1959 by the Italian architect Angelo Bianchetti,[2] who built the first European bridge restaurant in slightly more than six months. In 1962, Pavesi replaced its existing roadside restaurants at Novara and Bergamo along the Autostrada Serenissima by bridge restaurants at Novara and Osio. This was done in conjunction with the upgrade of the three-lane highway to motorway standards. Bianchetti built nine bridge restaurants for his principal, the Italian food chain Pavesi. Three Pavesi bridges, Chianti, Dorno and Serrevalle-Pistoiese, were built by other architects. The concept was replicated by Pavesi's competitor Motta, who built two bridges at the Cantagallo[3] and Limena[4] rest areas and later on spread over Europe. In 1974 the Italian chains were heavily affected by the oil crisis and as a result, no more bridge restaurants were built in Italy. In 2012 there are 13 bridge restaurants left in Italy. In 2021 the most daring Autogrill in the world (Montepulciano) was demolished due to structural problems after 50 years of service.

Rest of Europe

Inspired by the Italian example, the concept spread over Europe along with the expansion of motorway networks. Britain's first motorway, the M6 was equipped with motorway service areas (MSA). In contrast to the United States, commercialized rest areas along state-owned motorways are common in Europe. Many of the British MSAs have footbridges for crossing the motorway but only five MSAs were built as bridge restaurants, all in the early 1960s. The M6 got three of them, the fourth was built at Farthing Corner (today Medway) over the M2 and the last at Leicester Forest East over the M1 which opened in 1966. The building of bridge restaurants in Britain stopped because of the fire risks because they were regarded as an obstacle for road widening in the future and because of the finding that drivers do not find any rest when they are still watching the traffic.

In Germany, there are two MSAs built as bridge restaurants. The first opened in 1967 at the Rudolphstein/Hirschberg crossing of the inner German border along the Berlin Munich transit route. Visitors had a view of the iron curtain from the restaurant. The second was built at the Dammer Berge MSA over the A 1 at Holdorf in 1969. Building bridge restaurants in Germany was more expensive than two restaurants at both roadsides. Because of the length of the bridges, many facilities, such as toilets, kitchens, and storage rooms had to be built twice on a bridge, so it turned out that it was too expensive to build further bridge restaurants over the Autobahn.[5] In Belgium the concept is widespread and still applied for new MSAs. At the beginning of the 1970s, Jacques Borel introduced the bridge restaurant to France, and Mövenpick followed soon in Switzerland. The Netherlands followed in 1980 with Rick's, situated at Den Ruygen Hoek MSA near Schiphol. Scandinavia got its first bridge restaurant in the mid-1980s.

Other roads

There are also bridge restaurants beside the motorways. In Oldenzaal (Netherlands) and Berlin (Germany) they are built across broad lanes. The Haus der Deutschen Weinstraße is built over a two-lane road with, as an exception, an entrance at only one roadside. The smallest bridge restaurant is situated in Kufstein (Austria), where a 15th-century service bridge across a street in the old city has been redeveloped to a bridge restaurant with two seats.


The bridge restaurants in the United States are, except the Lincoln Oasis, more or less replications of the same design based upon a tied-arch bridge. The Lincoln Oasis,[6] designed by David Haid, used a steel frame combined with a glass facade derived from the Italian MSAs at Arda and Cantagallo. The Illinois oasis were renovated in 2003 and have all got a similar look since.

The European bridge restaurants are mostly unique designs. The bridge restaurant should be a landmark and they were designed for their specific operator and location.

Steel frame

The first two Italian bridge restaurants at Fiorenzuola d'Arda and Cantagallo [7] both got reinforced concrete entry buildings that serve as supports for the steel frame span crossing the carriageways. The bridge restaurant at Cantagallo was destroyed by fire in 1981 and rebuilt as a reinforced concrete bridge.


In 1961 reinforced concrete was introduced for the span itself. Bianchetti designed a reinforced concrete bridge restaurant [8] for the Novara MSA in 1962. Afterward, this design was almost completely copied at Osio MSA, today Brembo. The two in Tuscany, at Serrevalle Pistoiese MSA and Chianti MSA, and the one at Dorno MSA were designed by other architects resulting in unique designs at the different sites. The British bridge restaurants are all built with reinforced concrete and all specially designed for the specific location. In 1963 and 1964 Bianchetti built two specially designed bridge restaurants at the south (Frascati) and north (Feronia) of Rome.[9] Architect Carlo Casati introduced prestressed concrete in his design at Dorno MSA in 1964.[10] A unique design was built by Bega and Nervi at the Limena MSA in 1967.[11] The span has been built as a concrete box with octagonal windows in the walls. In 1969 the German architects Paul Wolters and Manfred Bock combined a prestressed concrete deck with a steel frame top at Dammer Berge MSA.

Double deck

Bianchetti's next step was the double-deck bridge restaurant with one floor for the restaurant and the other for shops. At Montepulciano, he used the steel frame technique, already implemented at Arda and Cantagallo. The whole design is exceptional because of its cantilever construction that can be seen from the outside.[12] The last bridge restaurant design of Bianchetti is a double-deck concrete bridge that was built at Soave MSA in 1969, just east of Verona and at Alfaterna MSA in 1971, just south of Nocera Inferiore. The upper level at Alfaterna[13] was used as a motel, but this bridge has been demolished. In Switzerland both Würenlos MSA in 1972 and Knonauer Amt MSA in 2009, got a double-deck bridge restaurant as well.

Other restaurants

Würenlos and Nyköpingsbro are built as cable-stayed bridge. The bridge restaurant in Pratteln, designed by Casoni & Casoni from Basle, is unique for its fiberglass facade. In Scandinavia and Illinois the parking lots are at the same level as the bridge. Except for Frascati, Ayer Keroh, and Petroport, the other bridge restaurants have an entrance on street-level from which the customers enter the bridge by stairs, escalator or elevator.


Rest area Country Highway Opened Coordinates
Auracher Löchl  Austria Römerhofgasse, Kufstein 47°34′56″N 12°10′5.8″E / 47.58222°N 12.168278°E / 47.58222; 12.168278 (Auracher Löchl)
Arlon  Belgium A4 49°38′35.6″N 5°49′41.8″E / 49.643222°N 5.828278°E / 49.643222; 5.828278 (Arlon)
Barchon  Belgium A4 50°39′13.9″N 5°42′38″E / 50.653861°N 5.71056°E / 50.653861; 5.71056 (Barchon)
Opzullik  Belgium A8 50°41′1.4″N 3°53′51.4″E / 50.683722°N 3.897611°E / 50.683722; 3.897611 (Opzullik)
Orival  Belgium A7 2001 50°36′53.6″N 4°18′1.3″E / 50.614889°N 4.300361°E / 50.614889; 4.300361 (Orival)
Verlaine  Belgium A15 50°35′34.6″N 5°18′13.3″E / 50.592944°N 5.303694°E / 50.592944; 5.303694 (Verlaine) A15-Verlaine.JPG
Wanlin  Belgium A4 1995 50°8′34.8″N 5°4′43.2″E / 50.143°N 5.078667°E / 50.143; 5.078667 (Wanlin)
Peñaflor  Chile AP-78 1998 33°38′3.4″S 70°52′8.3″W / 33.634278°S 70.868972°W / -33.634278; -70.868972 (Peñaflor)
Linnatuuli  Finland Valtatie 3 1992
Beaune–Merceuil  France A6 July 24, 1971 46°57′40″N 4°50′11.2″E / 46.96111°N 4.836444°E / 46.96111; 4.836444 (Aire de Merceuil)
Lançon de Provence  France A7 43°35′21.6″N 5°11′25.2″E / 43.589333°N 5.190333°E / 43.589333; 5.190333 (Aire de Lançon de Provence)
Nemours  France A6 48°15′45.6″N 2°43′19.2″E / 48.262667°N 2.722°E / 48.262667; 2.722 (Aire de Nemours)
Orléans–Saran  France A10 1975 47°58′36″N 1°51′32.4″E / 47.97667°N 1.859°E / 47.97667; 1.859 (Aire de Saran)
Saint Albain  France A6 October 29, 1970 46°25′10″N 4°51′55.2″E / 46.41944°N 4.865333°E / 46.41944; 4.865333 (Aire de Saint Alban)
Verdun Saint Nicolas (Haudiomont)  France A4 49°7′9.2″N 5°30′34.3″E / 49.119222°N 5.509528°E / 49.119222; 5.509528 (Aire de Haudiomont)
Dammer Berge  Germany A1 1969 52°32′24″N 8°6′49″E / 52.54°N 8.11361°E / 52.54; 8.11361 (Dammer Berge) RaststaetteDammerBerge.JPG
Frankenwald  Germany A9 1967 50°24′19″N 11°46′25″E / 50.40528°N 11.77361°E / 50.40528; 11.77361 (Frankenwald) Brückengasthaus Frankenwald.jpg
Haus der Deutschen Weinstraße  Germany Deutsche Weinstraße 1995 49°36′33″N 8°10′53″E / 49.60917°N 8.18139°E / 49.60917; 8.18139 (Haus der Deutschen Weinstrasse) Haus-der-Deutschen-Weinstrasse.jpg
ICC-Berlin  Germany Messedamm April 2, 1979 52°30′16″N 13°16′46″E / 52.50444°N 13.27944°E / 52.50444; 13.27944 (ICC-Berlin) ICC Berlin von O.jpg
Sirios - Malakasa  Greece A1 38°15′21.6″N 23°45′0″E / 38.256°N 23.75°E / 38.256; 23.75 (Sirios) Autogrill-greece-A1 2009.jpg
Alfaterna  Italy A3 1971[14] 40°43′58.1″N 14°40′44.4″E / 40.732806°N 14.679°E / 40.732806; 14.679 (Area di servizio Nocera Inferiore)
Brembo  Italy A4 1962 45°37′54″N 9°35′55.4″E / 45.63167°N 9.598722°E / 45.63167; 9.598722 (Area di servizio Brembo) Osio Sopra - autostrada A4 - area servizio Brembo.jpg
Cantagallo  Italy A1 April 23, 1961[15] 44°27′21.6″N 11°16′48″E / 44.456°N 11.28°E / 44.456; 11.28 (Area di servizio Cantagallo)
Chianti  Italy A1 1962[16] 43°43′45.2″N 11°19′59.9″E / 43.729222°N 11.333306°E / 43.729222; 11.333306 (Area di servizio Chianti)
Dorno  Italy A7 May 11, 1964 45°8′52.8″N 8°59′29.4″E / 45.148°N 8.9915°E / 45.148; 8.9915 (Area di servizio Dorno) Autogrill Dorno.jpg
Feronia  Italy A1 1964[17] 42°8′6.1″N 12°36′7″E / 42.135028°N 12.60194°E / 42.135028; 12.60194 (Area di servizio Feronia)
Arda  Italy A1 December 29, 1959 44°57′44.4″N 9°54′18.4″E / 44.962333°N 9.905111°E / 44.962333; 9.905111 (Area di servizio Adra)
Frascati[18]  Italy E821 1963 41°49′54.7″N 12°39′23.5″E / 41.831861°N 12.656528°E / 41.831861; 12.656528 (Area di servizio Frascati)
Limenella[19]  Italy A4 April 2, 1967 45°26′54″N 11°50′41″E / 45.44833°N 11.84472°E / 45.44833; 11.84472 (Area di servizio Limena)
Montepulciano  Italy A1 1967[20] 43°8′9″N 11°51′51.5″E / 43.13583°N 11.864306°E / 43.13583; 11.864306 (Area di servizio Montepulciano)
Novara  Italy A4 1962[21] 45°28′5.9″N 8°39′24″E / 45.468306°N 8.65667°E / 45.468306; 8.65667 (Area di servizio Novara)
Scaligera  Italy A4 1969[22] 45°24′38.4″N 11°13′57.8″E / 45.410667°N 11.232722°E / 45.410667; 11.232722 (Area di servizio Soave)
Sebino  Italy A4 1962 45°35′37.3″N 9°57′53.8″E / 45.593694°N 9.964944°E / 45.593694; 9.964944 (Area di servizio Sebino)
Serravalle  Italy A11 1962[23] 43°53′28.1″N 10°49′31.2″E / 43.891139°N 10.825333°E / 43.891139; 10.825333 (Area di servizio Serravalle Pistoiese)
La Porta  Italy via Stalingrado, Bologna 2010 44°30′41.07″N 11°21′26.16″E / 44.5114083°N 11.3572667°E / 44.5114083; 11.3572667 (Ristorante La Porta)
Ayer Keroh  Malaysia E2 2°23′54.5″N 102°13′15.7″E / 2.398472°N 102.221028°E / 2.398472; 102.221028 (Ayer Keroh) NSE restaurant.jpg
Subang Jaya  Malaysia E6 3°1′32.3″N 101°34′32.2″E / 3.025639°N 101.575611°E / 3.025639; 101.575611 (UEP Subang Jaya)
Sungai Buloh  Malaysia E1 3°11′19.3″N 101°35′10.7″E / 3.188694°N 101.586306°E / 3.188694; 101.586306 (Sungai Buloh)
Den Ruygen Hoek  Netherlands A4 December 18, 1980 52°15′36″N 4°41′17″E / 52.26°N 4.68806°E / 52.26; 4.68806 (Den Ruygen Hoek) Wegrestaurant 002.jpg
Oldenzaal  Netherlands 52°17′47.4″N 6°55′25.2″E / 52.2965°N 6.923667°E / 52.2965; 6.923667 (Oldenzaal)
Hungsu-ri  North Korea AH1 38°28′4.1″N 126°4′3.1″E / 38.467806°N 126.067528°E / 38.467806; 126.067528 (Sohung Tea house)
Holmestrand  Norway E18 59°30′50.7″N 10°12′10″E / 59.514083°N 10.20278°E / 59.514083; 10.20278 (Holmestrand)
Midrand  South Africa N1 25°58′49.4″S 28°7′34.6″E / 25.980389°S 28.126278°E / -25.980389; 28.126278 (Midrand)
Petroport  South Africa N1 25°36′59.8″S 28°16′41.8″E / 25.616611°S 28.278278°E / -25.616611; 28.278278 (Petroport)
Arrigorriaga  Spain AP-68 43°11′26″N 2°53′47″W / 43.19056°N 2.89639°W / 43.19056; -2.89639 (Arrigorriaga)
El Penedes  Spain E90 41°17′19.3″N 1°35′32.2″E / 41.288694°N 1.592278°E / 41.288694; 1.592278 (Area el Penedes)
La Jonquera  Spain E15 42°24′22.6″N 2°52′21.2″E / 42.406278°N 2.872556°E / 42.406278; 2.872556 (La Jonquera)
La Plana  Spain E15 39°51′52″N 0°7′21″W / 39.86444°N 0.1225°W / 39.86444; -0.1225 (Area de la Plana)
Lleida  Spain E90 41°32′33.6″N 0°38′15.8″E / 41.542667°N 0.637722°E / 41.542667; 0.637722 (Area Lleida)
Porta Cerdanya  Spain E9 42°20′44.5″N 1°49′58.3″E / 42.345694°N 1.832861°E / 42.345694; 1.832861 (Porta Cerdanya) C-16 Km 130 Area del Cadi (2).JPG
Gävlebro  Sweden E4 1987 60°38′56″N 17°7′8″E / 60.64889°N 17.11889°E / 60.64889; 17.11889 (Gävle Bro) Gävle Bro.JPG
Nyköpingsbro  Sweden E4 1986 58°44′56″N 16°55′14.9″E / 58.74889°N 16.920806°E / 58.74889; 16.920806 (Nyköpingsbro) Nyköpingsbro2.jpg
Knonauer Amt  Switzerland A4 November 13, 2009 47°16′18.5″N 8°26′16.5″E / 47.271806°N 8.437917°E / 47.271806; 8.437917 (Knonauer Amt) Autobahnraststätte in Affoltern am Albis.JPG
Pratteln  Switzerland A3 October 26, 1978 47°31′39″N 7°42′3″E / 47.5275°N 7.70083°E / 47.5275; 7.70083 (Schweizer Tor) Autobahnbrücke Pratteln - Situation vor Ort.jpg
Würenlos  Switzerland A1 1972 47°26′17.5″N 8°20′51″E / 47.438194°N 8.3475°E / 47.438194; 8.3475 (Fressbalken) Würenlos autoshoserestadejo Fressbalken 032.jpg
Charnock Richard services  United Kingdom M6 1963 53°37′52.2″N 2°41′28″W / 53.631167°N 2.69111°W / 53.631167; -2.69111 (Charnock Richard)
Keele services  United Kingdom M6 1963 52°59′35″N 2°17′21.9″W / 52.99306°N 2.289417°W / 52.99306; -2.289417 (Keele services) Keele Services Bridge Restaurant.jpg
Knutsford services  United Kingdom M6 1963 53°18′2″N 2°24′6″W / 53.30056°N 2.40167°W / 53.30056; -2.40167 (Knutsford services) Landing to Manchester, Knutsford Motorway Service Area - panoramio.jpg
Leicester Forest services  United Kingdom M1 1966 52°37′7.4″N 1°12′21.6″W / 52.618722°N 1.206°W / 52.618722; -1.206 (Leicester services) Leicester Forest East Service Area, M1 - - 217293.jpg
Medway services  United Kingdom M2 November 1, 1963 51°20′26.3″N 0°36′26.4″E / 51.340639°N 0.607333°E / 51.340639; 0.607333 (Medway Services) Medway Services, M2 - - 132810.jpg
Belvidere Oasis[24]  United States I-90 (Jane Addams Memorial Tollway) 1959 42°14′0.3″N 88°50′4.4″W / 42.233417°N 88.834556°W / 42.233417; -88.834556 (Belvidere Oasis) Belvidere Oasis, Illinois.jpg
Chicago Southland Lincoln Oasis  United States I-80/I-294 (Tri-State Tollway) 1967[25] 41°34′43.3″N 87°35′56.6″W / 41.578694°N 87.599056°W / 41.578694; -87.599056 (Lincoln Oasis)
Des Plaines Oasis[26]  United States I-90 (Jane Addams Memorial Tollway) 1959
(closed in 2014)
42°0′52.9″N 87°55′35.3″W / 42.014694°N 87.926472°W / 42.014694; -87.926472 (Des Plaines Oasis)
Hinsdale Oasis[27]  United States I-294 (Tri-State Tollway) 1959 41°47′0.6″N 87°54′28.3″W / 41.7835°N 87.907861°W / 41.7835; -87.907861 (Hinsdale Oasis)
Lake Forest Oasis[28]  United States I-94 (Tri-State Tollway) 1959 42°15′10.6″N 87°54′4.8″W / 42.252944°N 87.901333°W / 42.252944; -87.901333 (Lake Forest Oasis)
The Will Rogers Archway
(McDonald's/Subway/Kum & Go)
Vinita, Oklahoma
 United States I-44 (Will Rogers Turnpike) 1957
(remodeled in 2013)
36°37′23.9″N 95°8′52.9″W / 36.623306°N 95.148028°W / 36.623306; -95.148028 (McDonald's) VinitaMCD Parking.JPG
O'Hare Oasis[29]  United States I-294 (Tri-State Tollway) 1959
(closed in 2018)
41°57′2″N 87°52′56.9″W / 41.95056°N 87.882472°W / 41.95056; -87.882472 (O'Hare Oasis) OHare Oasis.jpg

On bridges

Literally the restaurants on the Novy Most in Bratislava, opened 1972, and the Esplanade Riel in Winnipeg, opened 2003, could be regarded as bridge restaurants, but these bridges are normal river crossings with a restaurant and aren't dedicated bridge restaurants. The Anshun Bridge in Chengdu, opened 2003, features the Veranda bridge restaurant built as a bridge over the river instead of a road. The Serbian town of Valjevo also has a restaurant with a terrace on a purpose built bridge crossing the river at Knez Mihajleva.


  1. ^ Greco p. 91.
  2. ^ Colafranceschi, p. 36.
  3. ^ Colafranceschi, p. 37.
  4. ^ Greco p. 115.
  5. ^ Johannes, p. 51
  6. ^ Greco p. 98.
  7. ^ Greco pp. 101-109.
  8. ^ Greco p. 110.
  9. ^ Greco p. 208.
  10. ^ Greco p. 118-119.
  11. ^ Greco p. 115-117.
  12. ^ Greco p. 133-141.
  13. ^ Greco p. 182.
  14. ^ Greco, p. 209.
  15. ^ Greco, pp.  101-108
  16. ^ Aleardi, building FI22.
  17. ^ Greco, p.  208.
  18. ^ Greco, p. 208.
  19. ^ Greco, pp. 115-119.
  20. ^ Greco, pp. 133–141.
  21. ^ Greco, p.  110.
  22. ^ Greco, p.  209.
  23. ^ Aleardi, building PT10.
  24. ^ Staff. "Belvidere Oasis". Illinois State Toll Highway Authority. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  25. ^ Greco, p. 91.
  26. ^ Staff. "Des Plaines Oasis". Illinois State Toll Highway Authority. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  27. ^ Staff. "Hinsdale Oasis". Illinois State Toll Highway Authority. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  28. ^ Staff. "Lake Forest Oasis". Illinois State Toll Highway Authority. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  29. ^ Staff. "O'Hare Oasis". Illinois State Toll Highway Authority. Retrieved October 15, 2012.

Works cited

  • Johannes, Ralph; Wölki, Gerhard (2005). Die Autobahn und ihre Rastanlagen - Geschichte und Architektur (in German). Petersberg: Michael Imhof Verlag. ISBN 3-932526-68-6.
  • Aleardi, Andrea; Marcetti, Corrado; Vittorini, Alessandra (2011). L'architettura in Toscana dal 1945 ad oggi: una guida alla selezione delle opere di rilevante interesse storico-artistico (in Italian). Firenze: Alinea. ISBN 978-88-605563-1-8.
  • Colafranceschi, Simone (2007). Autogrill: una storia Italiana (in Italian). Bologna: Il mulino. ISBN 978-88-151214-4-8.
  • Greco, Laura (2010). Architetture Autostradali in Italia (in Italian). Rome: Gangemi. ISBN 978-88-492191-5-9.