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Name That Peoria Landmark* – Sandy’s Sheridan Road

*With apologies to PeoriaIllinoisan and NTPL.



Hint: The building still stands today.

Many readers remembered Sandy’s on Sheridan, across the street from Sheridan Village. The building is now occupied by Dairy Queen. I got the above picture and the following information from this website on the history of the fast food chain:

Peoria Sandy’s Sheridan Road was Sandy’s number one. It opened on August 8th, 1958 and was originally planned to be one of the first McDonalds east of the Mississippi River. Ray Krok, however, changed the leasing agreement to his favor when the building was being built. The founders of Sandy’s were not happy with the new terms which were violations of the original contract. They decided to follow the McDonald’s playbook and open their own drive-in and called it Sandy’s which is a Scottish play on the Irish McDonalds and to present a theme of swift and thrift service….

The choice of Peoria turned out to be a great one and by 1961 there were three Sandy’s locations in the city which were incredibly popular. Supported by Peoria’s numerous high schools as well as Bradley University, they became powerhouse businesses and Sandy’s was on its way spreading across the nation and becoming a dominant force in the fast food industry….

Sandy’s Peoria was not only the birthplace of the chain but it also was the spearhead of the transition between Hardees and Sandy’s. Sandy’s was in need of capital for expansion as well as to keep up with the leading fast food rivals in the nation. Based in Kewanee, Illinois, Sandy’s had one bank for financing. McDonalds, on the other hand was based in Chicago and had many of the most powerful banks in the world to choose from to finance their expansion plans. In order to compete, Sandy’s had to either issue stock or merge with a competitor. Hardees, on the other hand, needed Sandy’s strength, which was its board of directors and had plenty of capital. The merger made total sense….

The merger itself was announced in December of 1971. At some point, most likely in 1972, Sandy’s decided that it was in its interest to allow Hardees to buy the corporation out and become one…. Ninety percent of Sandy’s by this point had converted into Hardees. A few locations such as the Muscatine, Iowa Sandy’s remained Sandy’s well into the late 1970’s! Other locations became independant operators such as Bucky’s in Lawrence Kansas which continues to this day in 2004!

65 comments to Name That Peoria Landmark* – Sandy’s Sheridan Road

  • Dang, CJ, I must be picking the wrong landmarks because I’ve never got 50 responses…

  • bentone

    In 1968, there were Mister Donut’s on Western Avenue and Knoxville Avenue. There was also one in East Peoria. There might have been one or two others. They would not be listed as “Mr. Donut,” but as “Mister Donut.” They had better donuts than Don’s. Their chocolate donuts were the second best ever in this area. South Side Bakery had the best glazed donuts in the world. Does anyone remember The Farm Restaurant on Sterling.

  • JW

    Bentone, and others,

    I stand partially corrected…

    The 1968 Polk Peoria City Directory has the following:

    Mister Donut (Tag Enterprises Inc) 3428 N University

    Mister Donut (Gary Thorpe, Herald B Anderson and Milton Green) Baked Gds 2118 N Knoxville Av

    Mister Donut (Br) Milton Green Mgr Bakers 613 N Western Av

    However, I stand by my statement that Don’s had the best donuts.

    From the same directory:

    Farm Restaurant & Drive-In (Kenneth W & Mrs Marie C Kramer) 4421 N Sterling Av

  • I used to hang at the Meadowbrook A&W ’cause cute girls from Woodruff worked there.

    My uncle owned Peoria’s First Pancake House — the one that was built AFTER the first burned.

    And I love the fact that someone besides me still has old Polk Directories.

  • Lynn

    When I was very young I remember a person I was briefly related to (Merle) managing Sandy’s on Western for a year before it changed into Hardees. I uses to play in the basement while the store was open. They had great burgers and I always loved the design of the store. I also remember Mr. Quick on Main just at the top of the hill and the days when you could go to Steak & Shake and get curb service…those were the days.

  • Bob Babcock

    Sadly, Hunter’s is no longer there but a landmark for me none-the-less. I have wonderful memories about Hunter’s Lunch on Perry and Main Street. My great grandfather Levi Hunter started “Hunter’s Lunch” in 1924 with a popcorn wagon after he moved to Peoria from Quincy. My family ran the place until the late 70s.
    And we named our son Hunter!!!!
    Bob Babcock Jr.

  • Martin Takeuchi

    I remeber going to Sandy’s a few times before our football games ( I went to Spalding Institute H.S. from 1959 to 1961). I think the hamburgers were 25 cents,the fries 15 cents ( or was it 12 cents?) sodas were 25 cents . You could get a lot for about a $1.00 then !

  • Bev

    Anyone know where I can purchase an old Polk Directory? Thank you –

  • Joe

    ya, I remember the medowbrook dairy. going there when I was a kid they had an icecream flavor called boisenberry chesscake or something that was great. as for HUNTERS lunch downtown my friends dad worked there and I think it was his uncle that owned it. we would go down for a burger or something now & then. as for Belscot I had my first real job there. but for the best drive-in food SANDY’s was the best!!

  • Ron

    Does anyone remember this area around Sheridan & Lake during the 50’s and 60’s. I do… next door to that Sandy’s, I believe, was a Robert Hall’s Men’s Clothing. The reason I do remember this, is my Dad worked at Milo’s Park-N-Shop on the corner… catty-corner from Sheridan Village. He worked there for many years and did all of the window signage for the store. I even would be dragged in on occasion, to bag groceries and help with inventory… shoot, I even remember the “check-out girls” names; “Aunt” Yvonne and “Aunt” Shirley. I would love to get some pics of this area during those year, alot of memories.

  • MDA

    What fun to read some of the history of Peoria. Thanks for this venue. My father, Herold D. Anderson (correct spelling), was a business partner with Gary Thorpe and Milt Green in ownership of the four Mister Donut shops in Peoria – Western, Knoxville, University and Sterling. Sadly, corporate Mister Donut was bought by Dunkin Donuts a much inferior product.

    Loved Sandy’s. Got a black eye from pulling one of the large metal garbage cans in the parking lot over on top of me.

  • Pat

    I remember a drive in on Western Ave hill by where the old Jumers stands now. It was at the far end of the property toward the river. I think the building still standing on that spot was part of it. I always thought that was the previous location of Hunts not sure. It would have been in the mid to late 40’s. Anyone else remember back that far?

  • Cassie

    So glad that Hunter’s on Perry is remembered! Loved those chili dogs! Wish I had that chili recipe! Also, does anyone remember the Rainbow Drive-In located where Arby’s on University is now? OMG! Another place that had fantastic chili for chili dogs! That recipe would be well worth having as well. Does anyone recall who owned it back in the 60s?

  • Jim David

    Does anyone remember a small variety store called “Mert’s” on Loucks Ave. near University? It was attached to (or right next to) the building that is now the Whitney Veterinary Clinic, formerly a Skelly gas station. That structure was torn down to make room for the connecting road between Loucks and Forrest Hill. Mert’s used to sell all kinds of cool stuff for kids – toys, candy, gum, etc. This was probably in the late 50s or early 60s.

  • SouthEnder

    Also does anyone remember the Velvet Freeze located on Jefferson St, up the street from the Warner Homes. My oldest sister worked there in the late fifties.

    I also remember the old Waugh’s Mkt on SW Adams, next door to the Kroger’s on the corner at Griswold St. Stores closed on Sundays then.