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Sandy's Drive-In logo

Sandy's was the name of a chain of fast-food restaurants begun in 1958 by four business men from Kewanee, Illinois: Gus "Brick" Lundberg, Robert C. Wenger, Paul White and W. K. Davidson.





In 1956, the four men set out to start one of the first McDonald's franchises outside California. Ray Kroc had just begun selling McDonald's franchises outside the McDonald brothers' home state of 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 of California. The Urbana store proved popular with students, professionals and young families at the University of Illinois, and did so well that the group decided to open additional stores in Decatur and Peoria, Illinois.

Ray Kroc, however, notified them that Peoria and Decatur were not included in the central Illinois territory, and furthermore that changes to the terms of the franchise meant they would owe a higher percentage of their profits to McDonald's. Having invested heavily in the Peoria location, including erecting the building, Lundberg and his partners decided instead to open their own restaurant, and settled on the name "Sandy's." The chain adopted a Scottish-based theme to combat the Scottish-rooted "McDonald's", even though the latter wasn't based on a cultural theme of any kind. Lundberg was named president.

Early Success

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."[1]

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 being permitted to "shop around" as long as the supplies met company standards.
  • Lundberg visited every store periodically and become personally acquainted with every employee.

Ray Kroc did not sit idly by. He filed an ongoing series of lawsuits which finally ended with an out-of-court settlement in 1965. Despite this distraction, Sandy’s grew from just 7 stores in Illinois in 1959 to 121 in five states in 1966. 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.

Takeover by Hardee's

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. The solution was a merger. On November 30, 1971, a Hardee's purchase of all of Sandy's stock was announced, and Sandy's plaid berets were soon to be seen no more. Sandy's had expanded to Belgium and Canada before its dismantling.

Originally, Sandy's was only to merge with Hardees and maintain its own identity, but in 1973, ninety percent of the locations agreed to switch to Hardee's; the other ten percent remained Sandy's. In 1979, the last Sandy's location in Muscatine, Iowa became a Hardee's. Other locations simply changed their name to avoid infringing on the Sandy's name. These locations included Zandy's in Great Falls, Montana, Sandie's in Billings, Montana, and Bucky's in Lawrence, Kansas but only Zandy's continues operations as of 2007. Bucky's closed as of December 14, 2007.



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