Sandy's 55th and 4th, Moline, Illinois

Sandy's 55th and 4th, Moline, Illinois

special thanks to the Moline, Illinois Public Library archives

Sandy's on 55th and 4th, Moline, Illinois was franchise owned by Mr. Ted Vlahos and was perhaps the greatest Sandy's of them all. Mr. Vlahos was most likely the greatest Sandy's owner of them all. To his credit are such items as the fast food double decker burger as well as the fast food fish sandwich. He was also a marketing genious causing traffic jams on the U.S. highway in front of his Sandy's due to his incredible specials and for filling the next door business' parking lot with his promotions!

This, the original Moline Sandy's was actually the first ever franchise Sandy's. The classic front beams for the building were delayed in a scheme by the Quincy, Illinois owner which resulted in the drive-in opening later than it should have thus making the Quincy location the first franchisee to ever open. The finishing touches to the building were still being worked on when the location opened on July 2nd, 1959. Eleven months earlier, the first Sandy's, Sheridan Road, Peoria, opened and had exploded with business. Also open by this time was a location in St. Louis as well as Quincy. The original plan by the four founders was to have one store for each founder and to not franchise out the business. Mr. Vlahos made numerous trips with Brick Lundberg, founder, to the founder's McDonalds (see the Sandy's history section icon on the front page for more information) in Champaign, Illinois and convinced them to allow him to have the Moline location.

Sandy's in Moline employed twenty-five people and provided a swift 30 second service on all standard orders. Mr. Vlahos followed this principle of quick service throughout his four decades in the fast food industry. The restaurant opened at 11 a.m. daily and its parking lot held between 150 and 200 cars.

Incredibly, the founders of Sandy's had opened the McDonalds location on 23rd Avenue, across from Moline High School. The founders gave up this location in order to pursue Sandy's. McDonalds, most likely Ray Krok himself who had dealt with the Sandy's founders when they were McDonalds franchisees, took notice of Sandy's Peoria Sheridan Road location's incredible business explosion as well as the St. Louis and Quincy, Illinois Sandy's locations and was ready for all out war. McDonalds quickly fired back on the weekend of the Sandy's Moline grand opening with two ads of their own. The first was a one page ad and the next was a massive two page ad.

Sandy's finally announced their grand opening with prize giveaways! The war had begun. From its founders amazing beginning as one of the first McDonalds franchisees, Sandy's was well on their way to become what we know as one of the greatest drive-ins of all time.

One of Sandy's great promotions was O'Sandy's Day. Here is an advertising clipping for the Moline location on March 16th, 1963. Notice that the emphasis at this point in time was placed on hamburgers rather than the fish sandwich which would become one of the greatest fast food promotions. Every driver of a green car parked at Sandy's received a free hamburger, no questions asked! The same was true of any lady who arrived with green hair! Free candy was issued to the kiddies and a beautiful model with green hair was present to join the festivities! Amazingly, the Sandy's Scottish dancing girl is not to be found on the ad clipping.

Moving deeper into the past, this advertisement for Sandy's O'Sandy day appeared in the Moline Dispatch on March 16th, 1962. Check closely and you will see Mr. Vlahos' was already advertising 25 fish sandwiches. Interestingly, at this point, McDonalds and Sandy's were cross-spying on each other's operations to achieve a competitive edge. This advertisement documents Mr. Vlahos' invention of the fast food fish sandwich which was well established and exploding in sales in the Moline area a full year before McDonald's own website promotes that McDonald's added the file o fish to their board in 1963!

Ted Vlahos was a master at promotion. He not only invented the fast food fish sandwich but he promoted it in a way which caused traffic jams in front of his Moline location. Incredibly, during lent season, the city asked Ted to hire traffic control in front of his Sandy's due to the massive traffic jam in front of his location when he ran his special! This next lent promotion took place on 3/5/1964. The special which annually caused all of the chaos was your choice of a fish sandwich, fries and drink for 41 or fish, fries and a triple thick shake for only 51! Notice that quick frozen, ocean fresh Blue Water Seafoods is used to identify the purchase rather than a Sandy's name. This early in the history of the fish sandwich, Sandy's was pursuing how to standardize this meal which Mr. Vlahos invented!

March 26th, 1964. Ted Vlahos proves once again that he is a marketing genious. On March 27th and 28th, 1964, children could come to his Sandy's and meet the Easter bunny! When the child came, accompanied by an adult, he or she would receive an "eggs-tra" special chocolate Easter egg, personalized by the Easter bunny with the child's name in frosting on it. This was one of the greatest promotions in the history of Moline Sandy's. It was one that carried on to other Sandy's locations and was played over again year after year. On this particular occasion, Grandpa Happy, children's television host from channel 4, WHBF, Rock Island was live in person from 5:30 to 7:30. With all of this happening at Moline Sandy's, it was nearly a riot both inside and outside of the building. Absolutely amazing.

The May queen also appeared ad Sandy's as Ted presented yet another incredibly successful promotion, handing out May Baskets!

In the early years of Sandy's, Mr. Vlahos would come up with ideas for marketing, not knowing if they would even work. By the time that his Sandy's location celebrated its fifth anniversary, he knew exacty what to do and this time he went for the kill.

In this advertisement, placed in the Moline Daily Dispatch, Sandy's in Moline exploded into the entertainment center of the Quad Cities area. Free cake was provided for two full days to everyone just for showing up. Jo Ann Rowley, beauty contest celebrity, was on hand as Miss Sandy in complete outfit straight from Scotland (via Kewanee!). Local CBS affiliate's own children's television host Grandpa Happy was there to greet the customers. A giant fish pond filled with hundreds of prizes (a winner every time) drew kids of all ages. Finally, a bagpipe band played for two consecutive days, entertaining the customers! The main highway in front of the drive-in resembled a huge traffic jam. What a way to celebrate a birthday!

Friday, September 4th, 1964. Introducing the new Hi-Lo. One may wonder what Hi-Lo stood for. This advertisement explains it all. HI value, LO price! This new Hi-Lo sandwich will be on our regular menu daily for only 29 but this Labor Day weekend it is yours for 24! Buy them by the sackful!

Meet Santa at Moline Sandy's Saturday December 5th and Sunday December 6th, 1964!

On 3/2/1965, the Sandy's dancing girl appeared along with the great 41 price. At the bottom of the ad, it shows that Sandy's show stoppers album... is still available! This was a twelve song record album sung by top name stars such as Aretha Franklin which was available for one dollar only at Sandy's for a limited time. The actual ad for the album appears on the Fort Dodge, Iowa page which is found by clicking on the locations icon on the left hand side of this page.

Sandy's fish sandwich which was created by Mr. Vlahos went corporate wide and the lenten specials became standardized at every Sandy's location. In 1966, the price had risen three cents on this incredible value which was now referred to as The Mariner.

Mr. Vlahos' fish sandwich had become a coporate icon as shown in this 1971 Sandy's corporate slide! Introducing the Mariner! A delicious fish sandwich meal.

More of the wildly popular fish specials, this time January 25th, 1964, February 13th, 1964 followed by another in October of 1964!

Mr. Vlahos continued the promotions with Valentines day specials! If you puchased a burger and fries at Sandy's in Moline on February 14th, 1965, you received a free shake! To top it off, all kiddies received a free box of candy! With crowd control now being required by the city due to traffic jams on the highway for Ted's incredible fish sandwich specials, one must think that this amazing promotion had similar results!

October 29th, 1965. A free box of candy corn as well as a free trick or treat bag in a Halloween promotion!

The year was 1967. On July 13th, 1967, this advertisement for Moline Sandy's appeared in the Moline Daily Dispatch. Just two and one-half weeks earlier, Mr. Vlahos had opened his new Rock Island Sandy's location. He placed this ad in the Rock Island Argus as well, introducing the Hi-Lo special to his new customers! Sandy's famous Hi-Lo burger deal was only 49. Sandy's was now at its peak expanding nationwide and firing on all cylinders.

Sunday March 17th, 1968. No longer a free hamburger just for showing up wearing green, now the offer was still a great one, a free hamburger with the purchase of any sandwich just for wearing green! Mr. Vlahos was constantly being told to tone down his promotions by the corporate office, most likely because the Iowa side Sandy's stores would then have to follow suit. In any case, many of Mr. Vlahos' promotions were adopted by corporate and this was probably a compromise between the two partys.

Another nation wide promotion during the spring high school basketball tournaments. Promoted on March 6th, 1969, local high school sports were one of the hottest tickets in the area and Sandy's capitalized on the opportunity. Click here and scroll down to see one of the basketballs from this promotion in another state!

The hot specials continued on April 25th, 1969. Two fish sandwiches for 35 .. NO LIMIT!!!! Chaos must have ensued on that Friday on Highway 92 in front of Moline Sandy's! To complete the one-two punch, french fries were free with the purchase of a cheeseburger and shake on the 26th!

On Monday April 23rd, 1973, this article appeared in the Moline Daily Dispatch on page 18. It was the end of Sandy's in Moline as well as most of the country. Charco-broiled burgers may have sold well in other parts of the country but they never matched the success of the Sandy's hamburger.


Fifteen Sandy's Restaurants in the Quad Cities area became Hardee's Restaurants today.

Hardee's is as well-known in its Southern birthplace as it is unknown here. The merger of Sandy's Systems Inc. of Kewanee and Hardee's Food Systems, Inc. of Rocky Mount, N.C., was completed in January, 1972. Company officials recently announced that more than 90 percent of Sandy's licenses had elected to convert their restaurants to Hardee's units.

The 15 area units include five restaurants in Davenport, Rock Island, Moline and Bettendorf as well as units in Kewanee, Galesburg, Geneseo and Dixon, Illinois plus restaurants in Burlington, Mount Pleasant, Clinton and Maquoketa, Iowa.

The conversion will mean Hardee's and its licensees will have more than 700 restaurants operating under the Hardee's name in 34 states and two foreign countries.

A unique charco-broiling technique sets Hardee's apart from other fast food chains, both in product offering and popularity. Test programs conducted in 12 midwest Sandy's Restaurants prior to the conversion showed substantial sales increases with the addition of the 1/4-pound Deluxe Huskee sandwich and the change to the charco-broiled cooking process.

Other factors prompting the conversion, according to Hardee's president Leonard Rawls, were increased exposure via a single name, increased availability of advertising dollars and single promotion and packaging efficiency. All employees of the units were informed of the decision to change at an earlier briefing. They were also introduced to Hardee's current advertising campaign.

The familiar Sandy's sign, with the tampo-shantered Scottish lass, has been lowered by cranes and replaced with the orange "H" of Hardee's , which also serves as the corporate symbol on the New York Stock Exchange. New uniforms have been fitted for employees, who are not putting to use recent training in charco-broiling techniques on new equipment.

A few days earlier, an advertisement (which can bee seen on the Geneseo page under Locations) appeared announcing the departure of Sandy's and the arrival of Hardees and it was never the same.

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

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