Sandy's Dubuque, Iowa

Sandy's Dubuque, Iowa

Sandy's first location was in Peoria, Illinois. The drive-in quickly became a huge success and started opening locations across the midwest and beyond. It made total sense to open a location in Dubuque, Iowa as nearby Sandy's were going great guns. The first location in Dubuque appears to have opened in 1961 and was located at 703 Dodge and was Sandy's #13. The second Sandy's location was at 420 Rhomberg and probably opened in 1964. The third was most likely opened in 1967 at 2282 University during a time of great expansive growth for the company.

UPDATE!!! 8/13/05 Mr. John Bonnette is the francisee owner of the University location as it became Hardees. Mr. Bonnette was kind enough to explain the general history of University for this site! Thank you so much Mr. Bonnette!!


My name is John Bonnette and I am the franchisee who owns and operates to this day the Hardees on University.

I purchased the original location in 1974 ( it was built in 1966 and opened in October of that year) and have operated it since then. The Sandy's was re-imaged into a Hardee's building in 1974 and we operated in that location at 2282 University until 1989 when we relocated to our present location just 150' to the east. The old Sandy's/Hardee's building stayed vacant for 3 years until it was torn down and turned into the car dealership you referenced. The old beams definitely do not exist and today it is an outlet for Hartig Home Care products. We currently continue to operate and will do so for the foreseeable future in our new location.

The old Dodge street store was torn down to make way for the highway project but was relocated in Asbury where it continues to operate. The Rhomberg store was demolished in total and a new facility was built beside it. I hope that clarifies what has happened to these facilities.

Best Regards,

John E. Bonnette

Phil, who lived in Dubuque during these years, remembers Sandy's well. He hit a grand slam, providing a rare color picture of Sandy's at University from the Echo Yearbook. Any picture of Sandy's is very hard to find much less a color picture. Huge thanks to Phil. If you have access to yearbooks from this time period which have a Sandy's picture in them, please share them with this site. Again, thank you so much Phil for providing the images and memories!

I remember Sandy's in Dubuque REAL well. It actually pre-dated McDonalds in the city. The one I remember best is the one in the attached photograph. It was located at the intersection of Asbury Road and University Ave and I would guess that it opened in 1964 or 1965.

As you can tell from the text in the 1972 Dubuque Senior High School Echo, it was quite the social scene. The attached photo depicts the drive-in in its latter, seedier days as a Sandy's establishment. It became a Hardee's within a year or so.

When the restaurant first opened, it was a big deal. As the first real chain fast-food place in town (if you don't count A&W, which was not really fast in those days), it foreshadowed a major cultural shift (the end of those Mom and Pop places like Johnny's).

What I remember about it was how you did not have to wait for food and how addictive those skinny french fries were. Our family used to drive up there and eat in the car. I remember one evening in the summer, we were parked right in front and a teenage (female) driver tried to pull in next to us and just creamed the side of my dad's new station wagon. He was none too happy and the poor girl was scared to death.

My dad used to take my best friend and me to practice in the 1967 timeframe. After practice, I remember him taking us to that Sandy's for those smashed 10 cent (or were they 19 cents?) hamburgers and an orange drink.

Shortly before my dad's death in 2002 (when we knew his days were numbered) I remember reminiscing with him about those nights at Sandy's -- although he suffered from dementia, he still remembered that fondly.

I also remember another friend's late father taking us to the Sandy's on Dodge Street after swimming lessons in 1966. We thought that was really special -- I remember my friend's little brother referring to the hamburgers and "hangabuns."

The last time I drove past the old Sandy's location on University Ave, I believe the original building was a used-car dealership. But that was a few years ago.

The Sandy's on Dodge Street either became a Hardee's and was run out by a nearby McDonalds or it became the McDonalds. Not only does the building no longer exist, Dodge Street no longer exists. About a decade ago, it was restructured into an expressway and everything in that area was leveled and re-graded into totally different terrain.

Upon reflection, I believe I can date the Sandy's in the picture I sent you to 1965 (1966 at the latest). I remember that a 19th century building housing a mom and pop drug store sat at that site prior to being razed to construct the then ultra-modern Sandy's building. The site was near my grade school and I remember kids stopping at the erstwhile drug store on the way to school to buy candy.

Again, good luck with your great project! - Phil

Phil also provided commentary from the Echo yearbook. The commentary is hilarious, sarcastic and in a way all so true!

Phil is not the only one who remembers Sandy's in Dubuque. Harold Birch also remembers how incredible Sandy's was!

Once in Dubuque, IA, there was a Sandy's. I miss that place a lot. It was great!

Some memories that I have are me and my girlfriend going to Sandy's. We did not have much money so we went to Sandy's and ate for two dollars. You can't do that now a days! What I miss about Sandy's is all the great stuff they had out back in the 70's, oh how I wish those days would come back!

So as you know that will never happen. Sandy's may be gone, but we will always have memories of it.

If you have any memoribilia, pictures or stories of Sandy's three Dubuque, Iowa locations or elsewhere or can take a picture of what the Dubuque (or any other) Sandy's buildings look like today (if they have not changed to the point of being unrecognizable), please email me!

UPDATE! Special thanks to Phyllis Bowers who made the trek to Dubuque and found what exactly became of the three Sandy's locations!

Phil is correct, 703 Dodge Street no longer exists due to the highway project demolishing the entire area!

420 Rhomberg became a Hardees and exists one to this day 6/05. Here is a picture along with the Hardees sign out front. Could this sign be the remnants of a later model Sandy's sign with Hardees imposed on it?! Most likely not, as it follows the same pattern as Hardees signage poles but it is possible. It would also be interesting to know if the original Sandy's building was built around by Hardees or demolished. Do the original Sandy's beams still exist inside of the building like the one on Rockingham Road in Davenport, Iowa?

2282 University became a car dealership which most likely utilized the original Sandy's building. If you have a picture of this building when it was the car dealership, please email me!

Today the original Sandy's building is gone, replaced by Hartig Homecare.

Again, big thanks to Phyllis for her excellent discovery and detective work!

Sandys' fan Tim Ewing remembers Sandy's on University in Dubuque...


The building razed to accomodate the Sandy's Restaurant was called University Market. It was not a drug store, but rather a mom & pop run grocery store. The old man ran the meat dept, butchering the meat on the premises. His wife operated the cash register. I used to walk the two blocks from my home to buy a 12 cent Superman comic each month. I am certain the Sandy's was up and running prior to Oct. 1966, more likely it was Oct. 1965. The hambugers cost 15 cents plus a few pennies for tax. My family moved to Wisconsin in Jan. 1967, and I did not see it decline over the years. When it opened it just sparkled and was a very exciting place to go.


Sandy's alumni Bob Jones remembers the Dubuque Sandy's as well!

I arrived as a freshman at the University of Dubuque in August 1966, and Sandy’s on University Avenue was already in operation, just two blocks from the campus. Coming from Chicago, I had never heard of Sandy’s (or K-Mart) before I got to Dubuque.

We ran ads for “Sandy’s thrift and swift hamburgers” on the college radio station. They were just 15 cents each.

There was no McDonald’s or Burger King in Dubuque at that time.

Later on, in 1971, I actually worked at that Sandy’s for a very short time.

I remember the Dodge Street and Rhomberg Avenue Sandy’s locations, too. I am sure we had Sandy’s ads in the UD yearbooks; I will look and see this evening.

-Bob Jones

Milton-Freewater, Oregon