Sandy's Architect Bob Armstrong

Sandy's Architect Bob Armstrong

Bob Armstrong was the legendary architect who designed the Sandy's buildings. He was with Sandy's from the beginning of the company to the end. Mr. Armstrong not only created one of the most iconic building designs in the history of Americana, he also designed the incredible Sandy's icon itself!

His Son, Bob Armstrong Jr. was kind enough to speak about his father's work. Presenting a conversation with Bob Armstrong Jr.

Our whole family grew up a “Sandy’s Family”. In fact our whole neighborhood was part of it.

The Lundbergs and the Wengers lived just a block to a block and one-half away, my father designed and built houses for them as well as others. The whole Sandy's gang was a pretty close knit group, in fact, our whole neighborhood was part of it. We all grew up together and it was really fun. It was like a big family. We would hang out together, go swimming together and some of us would go to the same church. Johnny Wenger & I used to play with G I Joes & race minibikes together. Lee Lundberg & I were in kindergarten through seniors in high school. We were all totally integrated into the extended “Sandy’s Family”.

For many years from age 10, I worked Saturdays at the store on Tenney street - wearing the plaid jacket my Grandma made. My job was to greet people & clean tables. I was trying to earn enough allowance to buy a Schwinn Sting Ray or car model kits or whatever. Later in my teens I worked with Dad- on the drafting board, designing parking lots or seating layouts. Sometimes I traveled with him to scout new business locations.

We have some old family photos of us kids & the family at store openings around the country. It was normally a good excuse for a family summer vacation- pile the family into the station wagon & head to Rochester, Minnesota or Green Bay, Wisconsin or Rockford, Illinois. Saturday morning we’d meet all the new customers at the new store, then in the afternoon we’d head to the Holiday Inn & swim all afternoon.

My Dad was a really neat guy, in fact that whole group was a lot of fun to be around- Brick Lundberg, Bob Gerwig, Ted Vlahos, Bob Wenger, Bill Kiddoo, Paul White, Sherry Welch, Jack Laughery, Doc Boley, the Andris Brothers and all the others, we all kind of hung together and they ALL knew how to have fun! It seemed like everyone in Kewanee was somehow involved in a Sandy’s or two somewhere in the country. We’re actually still involved with a couple of Hardee’s in Wisconsin. My father passed away over 23 years ago, and unfortunately my mother Lee Anna Armstrong died this summer. We miss them both terribly, we had a lot of great times together.

When Sandy's had grown to spectacular levels, my father built the national headquarters in Kewanee and my Mom designed all of the mosaics on the outside. Its a really cool building. When Sandy's and Hardees merged, they sold that building to the church that took it over for $1. The building was a Brady Bunch era type of design both inside and out. It had that 1960's/1970's design to it. He really did a great job on it. When you walked in, there was a fountain in the lobby that changed colors from red to blue to green. There was also a spiral staircase in it. I would go there a couple of times a week and hang out with him.

He designed all the signage for the stores and my Mom did give input on it. He worked with a sign manufacturer in Peoria building them. I went with him there once- but I can’t remember their name. My dad was also responsible for a lot the packaging as well - for a while at least. He was also responsible for the new “Sandy Girl Head” illustration- the last logo to be used. It was done by some ad agency here in Chicago as I remember.

There used to be BOXES of blue prints and models at my Dad’s office on Lexington Ave. Unfortunately most if not all were destroyed by water damage after he died. By the way, that office was where Sandy’s had their corporate offices before moving to the Route 34 offices. It’s still around- there was one wall that was filled with a giant map of the US with pins stuck in it with all the locations & future sites- really impressive to a 8 year old.

The original design of Sandy's was certainly based on McDonald's. I do know that when they decided to go to a completely enclosed building, my dad tried to line the glass up with the columns, the wooden beams. Those were laminated beams that were done by Warehouser. My dad and a guy named Dick Smith with Warehouser were close friends and they made them in Chicago.

What they tried to do when they started enclosing the Sandy's was to line the glass up with the beams so that they were angled. Unfortunately, some people started bonking their heads on the beams and they had to change the layout to a more verticle way due to the threat of lawsuits.

Dad built different sizes of the winged building, there were various configurations depending on what area your Sandy's was in. It was not the same exact building every time. There were a lot of different needs that people had so they were not just cookie cutter shapes.

Presenting one and one-half decades of the iconic work of Mr. & Mrs. Bob Armstrong. 1) Early 1960's Harrison Street, Davenport, 2) Late 1960's Hays, Kansas, 3) early 1970's award winning "mini" - Maquoketa, Iowa

After around a decade of designing the original classic Sandy's buildings, my dad went back and decided to redesign it. They were trying at the time to go from just a drive-in to being a Quick Service Restaurant. It was more in tune to sitting down and having people come in, more of a family dining type of thing. In this last generation Sandy's building, there were three different versions! There was a "mini", a "midi" and a "maxi". My dad worked with some restaurant consultants and they won the restaurant design of the year award from a magazine. The reason he won was the kitchen arrangement was something that no one had ever seen before. It was really cutting edge. Then McDonald's copied my dad with their buildings. So I guess turn around is fair play.

To my knowledge, the Coke building mentioned on this website never was the headquarters. Paul White who had Kewanee Washer, built commercial dishwashers. He had this building on Lexington Avenue. As far back as I can remember, they had one-half of it and Sandy's had one-half of it.

My dad worked with the Bachelders who were franchisees. I believe that he designed the Belgium Sandy's for them. At some point there was talk of going international with Sandy's. You can see this on the website in the later years Sandy's girl head with the oval world icon behind her.

Here are three photos of the Grand Opening of Sandy’s #100- Kewanee. The first photo is of Brick Lundberg (in the plaid sport coat) & I believe the manager (whose name escapes me)- Walt Rogers maybe?. The next photo is of my sisters Brooks & Faye, and me- all decked out in our plaid outfits. We were manning “Balloon Distribution Duty” that day- my sister Brooks is doing her best “Sandy-girl” pose. The last photo is just the front of the store- I think you can see Brick mixing it up with the customers.

If you have any memorabilia, pictures or stories of Sandy's, please email me!