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 restaurants in Decatur, and Peoria, Illinois.
However, Ray Kroc notified them that Peoria and Decatur were not included in the central Illinois territory, and 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.
♦ Operators were not required to buy supplies from the corporation, instead of being 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.
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.
- Creve Coeur
- East Alton
- Rock Island
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.