Monday, November 26, 2018

Sandy's Drive-In's of Illinois.

Sandy's was the name of a chain of American fast-food restaurants begun in 1956 by four businessmen from Kewanee, Illinois: Gus "Brick" Lundberg, Robert C. Wenger, Paul White, and W. K. Davidson. Sandy's was the ancestor of the Hardee's chain in the mid-west.

In 1956, four men set out to start one of the first McDonald's franchises outside the McDonald brothers' home state of California. Ray Kroc had just begun selling McDonald's franchises outside California, and the four friends partnered to buy the right to open McDonald's restaurants in central Illinois.

In June 1956, they opened their first restaurant in Urbana, Illinois, only the third McDonald's restaurant to open outside California. The Urbana store proved popular with students, professionals, and young families at the University of Illinois. It did so well that the group decided to open additional McDonald's restaurants in Decatur and Peoria, Illinois.

However, Ray Kroc notified them that Peoria and Decatur were not included in the central Illinois territory. Furthermore, that changed the terms of the franchise contract, which meant they would owe a higher percentage of their profits to McDonald's. Having invested heavily in the Peoria location, including erecting the building, the partners decided instead to open their own restaurant and settled on the name Sandy's. 

Sandy's chain adopted a Scottish-based theme to combat the Scottish-rooted McDonald's, even though the latter was not based on a cultural theme of any kind.
The menu of the first Sandy's restaurant included a 15¢ hamburger, a 20¢ milkshake, and a 10¢ bag of french fries, much like McDonald's. However, none of the four founders were interested in expanding their local chain.
Lundberg, in particular, viewed the enterprise as a chance to build a "people-oriented organization whose members worked hard but also had some fun while earning a legitimate profit." Sandy's was different in a number of ways from other fast-food chains of the time:
  • Operators of most restaurants owned their stores and did not lease from the corporation.
  • Operators were not required to buy supplies from the corporation; instead, they were permitted to "shop around" as long as the supplies met company standards.
  • Lundberg visited every store periodically and became personally acquainted with every employee.
Ray Kroc filed an ongoing series of lawsuits that finally ended with an out-of-court settlement in 1965. Despite this distraction, Sandy's grew from seven stores in Illinois in 1959 to 121 in five states in 1966.

An Employee.
In 1961, insurance man Jack Laughery was so impressed with Lundberg and his business approach that he left a successful practice to join Sandy's, becoming president in 1967. By the end of the 1960s, Sandy's, though still successful, was short of cash, a major handicap with the pricey new television advertising being actively employed by its competitors.

Meanwhile, the successful Hardee's chain in the Southern U.S. (founded by Wilbur Hardee) had money and was looking to expand its operations. Hardee's solution was a merger.

On November 30, 1971, it was announced that Hardee had purchased all of Sandy's Drive-In stock. The plaid berets of Sandy's were soon gone. Sandy's had expanded to Belgium and Canada before being dismantled.

Originally, Sandy's was to merge with Hardees but maintain its own identity. In 1973, ninety percent of Sandy's locations agreed to switch to Hardee's; the rest remained Sandy's restaurants. 

By 1979, the last Sandy's location in Muscatine, Iowa, became a Hardees. Any remaining locations went under independent ownership and changed their names to avoid infringing on Sandy's name: 

These locations included Zandy's in Great Falls, Montana, until it closed in January 2009 after a break-in and declining profits; Sandie's in Billings, Montana; Andy's in Cincinnati, Ohio; and Bucky's in Lawrence, Kansas, until it closed on December 14, 2007.

Illinois Locations:
  1. Addison 
  2. Aurora
  3. Belleville
  4. Benton
  5. Bloomington
  6. Bolingbrook
  7. Canton
  8. Champaign
  9. Charleston
  10. Collinsville
  11. Creve Coeur
  12. Decatur
  13. DeKalb
  14. Dixon
  15. East Alton
  16. Elmhurst
  17. Freeport
  18. Galesburg
  19. Geneseo
  20. Hillside
  21. Jacksonville
  22. Kankakee
  23. Kewanee
  24. Macomb
  25. Mattoon
  26. Moline
  27. Monmouth
  28. Mt. Vernon
  29. Normal
  30. Pekin
  31. Peru
  32. Peoria
    1. 401 South Western Avenue, West Peoria
    2. 423 Main Street, Peoria
    3. 4419 North Prospect Road, Peoria Heights
    4. 200 West McClure Avenue, Sandy's Thrift & Swift Drive-In, Peoria
  33. Quincy
  34. Rock Island
  35. Rockford
  36. Springfield
  37. Sterling
  38. Streator
  39. Urbana

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


  1. Dr. Neil Gale, Thanks for posting! Nice article and I love those old pictures! I noticed you have at least one town missing on your Illinois list: Mount Vernon. There was a Sandy's location at 1918 W. Broadway St in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. I don't know when it was opened (possibly late 1960s) , but it was active in the summer of 1977 when I moved to Mt. Vernon. It was located across the street from the Casey Junior High School. Sometime in the 1977 to 1979 time period it became a HARDEE'S restaurant. The Hardee's eventually closed (don't know when) but the building is now (as of September 2023) a used car lot called "AUTO MART".

  2. Missing the Macomb, IL location, built in late 1960s.
    I was the first recipient of the Gus E Lundberg Award at WIU (given for leadership , graduating senior)

  3. Also missing Monmouth il location 400 block of North main st.


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