Yankee Doodle Dandy – They Were More Than Just Hamburgers

Yankee Doodle Dandy – They Were More Than Just Hamburgers

I love a good fast-food hamburger and I will go out of my way to try one from a chain or independent I have never tried before. So wherever I have lived, I tend to be a connoisseur of the local fast-food eateries.

My passion for all things retro crosses over with this when I look for the remnants of chains I never had the opportunity to enjoy. Sometimes you find print material like ads or in some cases commercials that will give you clues as to what sort of stuff they were serving.

Someone mentioned a Chicago area chain to be the other day called Yankee Doodle Dandy that went out of business at some point in the 1980s. I had never heard of them, so I did a quick search and found some information and some great commercials.

Yankee Doodle Dandy was a fast-food restaurant chain that was founded in 1966 by Chris and Bill Proyce as the Tankee Doodle House in Bensenville, Illinois. By 1976 they had 27 restaurants, 20 of them were franchised and 7 were owned by the Proyce brothers.

In the eighties, the Proyce brothers decided to get out of the fast-food industry and instead moved into casual dining. They would covert four of their seven restaurants to Bailey’s Restaurant & Bars, they would close the rest.

Sadly this meant the end of Yankee Doodle Dandy and soon after the entire chain closed.

As you will see in these commercials, they have some pretty tasty looking food. But from the way they are trying to show that they are more than hamburgers, I am led to believe that trouble from the larger burger chains might have been putting pressure on them to expand their niche. This is probably why they moved towards becoming Bailey’s Restaurant & Bar.

Anyone ever eat at a Yankee Doodle Dandy? Was it any good?

“Hey, Kid! Did you know you could even have the best birthday ever at Yankee Doodle Dandy?”

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Yankee Doodle was awesome. I lived a block away from one growing up in Des Plaines, Illinois. They were a mix of McDonald’s and Burger King. They flame broiled everything so the burgers had a nice char taste. That location closed in the early 80’s sad to say. If they were around today, Yankee Doodle would be my first choice for fast food.

  2. We had two Yankee Doodle Dandy restaurants near where I grew up. One in Wheaton and one in Glen Ellyn. They were pretty good.

  3. There was one in downtown Mt Prospect, right on Northwest Highway. I used to talk my mom into taking me there if we were going to the public library.

    Like Tim says, flame-broiled everything, which made it excellent. They also had crinkle-cut fries that were cooked in beef fat (like most fast food places back then) that were amazing.

  4. This was the best place for burgers ,I went as far as to special order a triple burger with extra cheese ,fantastic. .I miss it..any chance of bringing back this restaurant?

  5. As I recall, they had fried chicken, roast beef and burgers. They had a wide range of foods to choose from. I recall thinking that they competed against Arbys with their roast beef, burger king with their burgers and KFC with their chicken.

  6. Dandy burger was the best. In grade school I cut lawns, shoveled snow and delivered new papers. Me reward
    was riding my bike to get a Dandy burger. I still have mayo on my burgers.

  7. Had one in my hometown of Waukegan, IL. Loved the Yankee Steak Sandwich and the BBQ chicken. Definately a better choice than McDonalds or Burger King. Burger Chef was also a favorite back then too.

  8. We had one in Munster, IN. It closed, I think, in the late 70’s early 80’s. There is a restaurant there now called “Commander Family Restaurant” and it still has a small Yankee Doodle Dandy red, white, and blue sign by the entrance to the parking lot.

  9. I used to work at the one across the street from the Mount Prospect train station on Northwest Highway. It was hard work but I have a lot of fond memories there. The owner’s name is Dorothy. Lunch rush was crazy busy, I remember the lines. And they used to have these specials of like two quarter pounds burgers for $1.29. I would always be amazed when people would ask me how much were two quarter pound burgers. There was a huge poster right next to the menu with the price on it. And there was one guy, mentally disabled, who would come in regularly and order like 10 quarter pound burgers, plain, and sit down by the counter by himself, open them up, said them all, and eat them. You could get a pack of cigarettes from the machine by the front door. Kids used to come in and try to buy them. I’m sure many did. They were like 65 cents a pack or something. I made $2.10 an hour. This was 1976/77/78 I believe.

  10. I remember this restaurant so well. Less than 10 minutes from our house in Waukegan, IL. Great food across the menu and they used fresh food to prepare. Most of all I remember my Mom used to work there for over 6 years. She and our family loved the Dandy Burger and the fish sandwiches in particular. She used to buy the fish fillets from them by the packages they came in and we’d make them at home and eat them. Wonderful memories! Wish they were still open.

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