Sandy's Muscatine, Iowa

Sandy's Muscatine, Iowa

Special thanks to Phil from Dubuque for this clipping which shows Muscatine Sandy's from the Muscatine Journal Newspaper

Opened in May 1968, the Muscatine, Iowa Sandy's location became a legendary location. Most other Sandy's had switched to Hardees between 1972 and 1973. Muscatine Sandy's however remained open as a Sandy's thru 1979!!! This Sandy's was located on Park Avenue which is one of the busiest streets in the city and is one of the arteries reaching to Highway 61 which is the Great River Road (Mississippi River). This location was interesting in that it was a late 1960's Sandy's. Instead of the Sandy's dancing girl icon from the late 1950's, the customers were treated to the new Sandy's girl icon who was ready to take on the new decade ahead. You can see her in the picture below on the overhead readerboard. Her face is also on the hamburger sacks that the patrons received when they purchased their food.

Another interesting note is the classic late 1960's tube lighting hanging from the ceiling in the dining room area. The picture below shows an excellent view of what it was like to enter, order and eat at a Sandy's restaurant near the end of its existance. No one could have guessed that within five years, Sandy's would no longer exist.

Tim Freehole worked at Muscatine Sandy's and remembers putting on a new Sandy's hat every day that he went to work there. Sandy's was located within blocks of Muscatine High School's football field. Tim said that Sandy's was the best after a football game as the kids would pack into the restaurant and its parking lot. My first job was flippin' burgers at Sandy's he recalls... Rich Schmitts' dad open the one in Muscatine, but I worked for Ollie Olsen. A couple of friends and myself came up with a new shake and name; The 'Moka'delite, all three flavors of ice cream together, vanilla, chocolate, & strawberry...mmmmmmmmm good !!

Tim's experience was identical at nearly every Sandy's location. Sandy's was the hang out place for high school kids especially on the weekends and was an incredible place to go for families, not only because of their great tasting food but because it was an affordable place to go as well. If you were a kid growing up with your first car, you and your friends could hang out there and be able to afford it. Being one of the original American drive-ins makes Sandy's a classic.

Muscatine Sandy's hold-out is a tribute to the restaurant itself and how deeply imbedded into the community it was. Today in 2004, a Hardees still stands in its place some 35 plus years after Sandy's laid the foundation for it to survive. In 1972, Brick Lundberg, the founder of Sandy's, had come out of retirement to convince the franchisees to switch all Sandy's over to Hardees for the good of the company. Not only did Sandy's need additional cash flow during this time of expansion but they would also benefit from the combined buying power and expense control. Hardees started to become the darling of the food industry during this time as Sandy's had given them what they needed, the key midwestern locations in areas where there was very little competition. Sandy's had laid the groundwork for the 1970's and 1980's success of Hardees so it unfortunately most likely made sense in 1977 to switch over to the new brand and name. Sandy's would be gone forever not only to Muscatine but to the nation as well.

UPDATE 07/16/05!

This picture of the young high school men eating at Muscatine Sandy's includes one of the owner's sons!

The year is 1977. Sandy's in Muscatine, Iowa is now one of the last, if not the last Sandy's in existence. Amazingly, almost twenty years after the corporation's beginning, Muscatine Sandy's adds a food item to the menu! Roast beef sandwiches are now being served!!!! Undoubtedly, the owner had heard from his buddies who owned Sandy's which were now Hardees that roast beef was the hottest item on the menu and followed suit! Incredible!

Lee Staak, owner of Iowa City, Iowa Sandy's, provided a document from Hardees which accounts for all Sandy's and list one last Sandy's still operating as Sandy's in 1979. Ted Vlahos, owner of Moline, Illinois Sandy's, as well as others, believes that Muscatine was the last Sandy's to ever exist. The following picture was taken in 1978, notice the Sandy's cups with the Sandy's girl head icon upside down next to the soft drink dispenser. This is one of the last pictures of Sandy's while it still existed! Muscatine Sandy's, holding the torch as long as it could for one of the greatest fast food restaurants of all time! Muscatine Sandy's finally switched to Hardees but sadly shut its doors in the summer of 2005.

04/12/06 DONALD DREW F remembers Sandy's in Muscatine!

I remember when my brother and I went out one late evening after dark and the sky was clear but full of stars. We suddenly saw just a few blocks east of our house several really bright lights up in the sky. WOW. Spotlights!!

We had never seen such a site before in Muscatine. Being kids on Schwinn banana seat bikes we tore out towards the lights. 1st block... second block... third block and across Park Ave we could see this awesome super modern building glowing from the inside out, with its high fins and roof line and neon lights light lighting the sidewalk up as tons of people waited in line all the way out side and stretched around the building just waiting to get in. We hunkered together and reached deep in our pockets. 25 cents, 2 dimes, 3 nickels and 23 pennies. We had enough to get a Sandys cheese burger and fries. We didn't mind we couldn't afford a soda pop. It was SANDYS and it was open and we got to cross the big highway and get a new hamburger and fresh french fries without Mom and Dad.

As we rode our bikes home that evening we felt like we really accomplished something .. we were apart of the history of the GRAND OPENING of a brand new SANDYS hamburgers restaurant on opening night.

Later, at age 14 1/2, I was determined to get my first job at Sandys. it was the coolest place in MUSCATINE. Even though we had moved over to west hill, I was willing to get there any way I could to get to work if they hired me.

I walked into the lobby and asked the lady at the counter if i could apply. She told me to go outside and around to the side door and knock on it and the manager would let me in. Ole Olson with his Mr. Magoo like nose and sweed styled hair cut, blondish brown hair, wearing a Sandy's paper cap slightly tilted to one side, asked me to come in to his office. It was really small with barely room for 2 folding chairs. I interviewed for what seemed like forever, but he hired me (thinking I was 16 years of age) I was to start the following Wednesday.

I would receive 2 shirts, had to wear black pants and I would get free lunch OR SUPPER AS A BONUS FOR WORKING THERE on my 15 minute breaks. Ole was fair and fun to work for. He was great with all the people even thou he had his favorites. Namely one, Susan, whom was to become my girlfriend for over three years and who eventually taught me how to drive a 3 speed on the column CHEVY VEGA 4 cylinder.

I remember getting hurt on the job one afternoon cleaning the grill. To clean the grill one had to use "soda" water and a powder abrasive to scower down the grill top to get off all the burnt fatty residues left over from the day shift. On the very end of the grill was a deep trough that was only a few inches wide and as deep in length as the grill. This is where one would scrape off the fat liquid and burgers bits after cooking 6, 8, 10, 12 or so patties. I was really scrubbing that grill top as I was heading with two hands firmly pressed into my scotch scratch pad when I went over the edge, into the trough and the spatula magnetized to the top back edge, flipped and jammed my third finger knuckle on my right hand, as the momentum carried me into the grease pit. I sliced open my knuckle and man did it ever bleed. Ole and Sue took me to MUSCATINE GENERAL HOSPITAL TO GET IT LOOKED AT. NO STITCHES BUT IT WAS A MESS AND TODAY I HAVE THE SCAR AND DEAD NERVES JUST BEHIND MY KNUCKLE AS A BADGE OF MY YOUNGER DAYS AT SANDYS HAMBURGERS.

And you don't want to know whom did what in to the 55 gallon drum of fresh made Scot sauce and didn't tell anyone until weeks later after his firing...........

Thank you for making a web site dedicated to Sandys and including Muscatine Iowa. From my child hood up thru my teens Sandys and all the people that worked there played a significant role into whom I am today. GOD BLESS every one of you!



04/25/2008 ... Sandy's fan Laurie Lusinski not only remembers Muscatine Sandy's, she worked there!!!


I ran across your website and had to write. I worked at Sandy's from 1971 through 1974, and 1975 through 1977. I started as a cashier and worked later as a cook. I mixed both Scot Sauce and tartar sauce. The Big Scot sauce contained mayonnaise (REAL Kraft mayonnaise), prepared mustard, sugar, dehydrated onions, and sweet pickle relish. The tartar sauce contained the same mayonnaise, dill relish, dehydrated onions, and a touch of mustard. The sauces were mixed in clean plastic trash cans, loaded into sauce guns (look like caulking guns), and stored in the walk-in cooler. I have been tinkering with the proportions for the Scot sauce a home recently and can come pretty close.

The hamburger patties Sandy's used were high-quality as well as the tenderloins and fish fillets. The regular hamburgers were cooked on the grill very much like White Castle restaurants do today. The patties were delivered frozen and thawed before placing on the grill. After placing on the grill, about a tablespoon of rehydrated onions were placed on top and flipped when the first side was done. Sandwiches without onions were prepared with patties cooked and stored in juice on the back of the grill that were primarily used for Big Scots. Big Scots were assembled this way using a three-layer, sesame-seed bun like Big Macs use: bottom bun supported by a cardboard collar, first pattie, a slice of cheese, middle bun section, second pattie, a handful of shredded cabbage, a squirt of Scot sauce, and finally the top bun.

Sandy's had a divided fryer with a section dedicated only to fish fillets. Tenderloins, pies, and fries were cooked in the other section. Many patrons ordered their tenderloins with Big Scot sauce and a slice of cheese. It sounds awful, but it was very good (especially with some cabbage on top)! When I started in 1971, you could order a hamburger, fries, and small soft drink for 62 cents (including tax!). I remember that Big Scots were 59 cents, and tenderloins were 41 cents. Hamburgers were 20 cents, fries were 20 cents, and small drinks were 20 cents. (Those were the days!)

I worked almost all the Friday and Saturday nights that I was in high school. We had off-duty police officers that they paid to hang around the lobby so none of the kids would cause trouble. We would get off work at about 12:30 a.m. and drive over to the Pizza Hut that was open until 2:00 a.m. and sit with the officers and drink pop and eat pizza. I'm still friends with a couple of them to this day!

This note has raised some wonderful memories for me and, hopefully, for you too! I hadn't thought about a lot of these things for many years. The original Sandy's building is still standing in Muscatine, Iowa. When I was working there, Hardee's tried with no success to have our store (which continued under the name Sandy's) install a grill rod system. Hardee's continued at that location until just several years ago when that location closed and the building had been for sale for a very long time. Recently, the building was divided and an employment agency is renting a portion. I guarantee that if you strip off the paneling and some of the drywall that the original red, white, and black tiles that Sandy's was know for are still underneath!


Laurie Lusinski