The Ardy & Ed’s Story
Ardy & Ed’s Drive In, as the business is known today, began in 1948, shortly after World War II had ended. It was originally known as the Southside A & W Drive In, serving little more than A & W Root Beer, Hot Dogs and potato chips. In the late 40’s it was one of only two or three Drive In Restaurants in Oshkosh. One of the early owners was Mr. & Mrs. Nate Rohr, who eventually owned a number of Root Beer Stands in the Fox Valley.
In 1953 the business was purchased by Robert and Elizabeth “Ollie” Albrecht of LaCrosse, Wisconsin. The Albrechts operated the drive in for 7 1/2 years. On July 1, 1960 the business was sold to Mrs. Albrecht’s son, Edward Timm, and his wife Ardythe.
The Timms operated the business as the Southside A & W Drive In until 1972. At that time the decision was made to operate as an independent drive in, and the business was renamed “Ardy & Ed’s Drive In”. They continued serving the same “Famous” draft root beer and great food as they had in the past.
After the death of Ed in 1979, Ardy continued to operate the business. She ran the business with her partner and husband, Steve Davis, who began working at the restaurant in 1977. Steve was honored by the Wisconsin Restaurant Association as “Restaurateur of the Year” in 2008 for his service to the WRA and the foodservice industry. In 2010 the WRA Education Foundation honored Steve with their “Salute to Excellence” restaurateur award for his dedication to hospitality education in Wisconsin.
Through the years, Ardy & Ed’s has been featured in numerous local and national publications, websites, and TV broadcasts. In 2003 we were honored to be chosen as the #4 location on Mazda’s “Top – 10 Top Down List” or places in the USA to go in a convertible. 2004’s “Top Five Food Innovations” and 2005’s “Roker On The Road” on the Food Network both included Ardy & Ed’s. In 2008, the restaurant was featured in Roadway Transportations annual calendar “Roadside Drive Ins”. Taglichtmedia of Germany filmed scenes for a documentary “As the World Eats” at Ardy & Ed’s during the summer of 2008, and aired on German television in the fall of 2009. Frommer’s “500 Places for Food & Wine Lovers” included Ardy & Ed’s Drive In when released in May 2009. Discover Wisconsin filmed at Ardy & Ed’s for a segment of their show “Diners, Drive Ins and Dairy Bars” which aired in May 2010. In 2015 we were included in an episode of “Around the Corner With John MicGivern”, as well as in: “Hometown Stories: Oshkosh” on Wisconsin Public Television. In 2016 a visit from the CNN Show Anderson Cooper 360° was broadcast nationally, and in 2017 the new show “Retro Eats” with host Claire Burns filmed and aired on both the Travel Channel and the Cooking Channel. Ardy & Ed’s was also honored to be a featured exhibit in the Oshkosh Public Museum from 1995 to 2003.
Today, new owners TJ and Valeta Rodgers, are committed to maintaining the iconic values of high-quality food service and extending the same Wisconsin hospitality as did Ardy and Steve Davis. TJ who was born and raised in Oshkosh owns several businesses in Oshkosh including the Oshkosh Country Club, TJ’s Highland Steakhouse, TJ’s Harbor Restaurant and the Kalbus Campgrounds. Steve Davis has agreed to join TJ’s team after the sale in August 2020 and will work with Executive Chef Michael England of TJ’s Steakhouse on delivering the best burgers, fries, and root beer floats in the state.
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