Drive-Ins of Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Apparently today is National Root Beer Float Day. It seems there is an official day for every food these days. I’m fine with that! So it seems fitting to post about a town with great root beer and ice cream (or frozen custard).

In 2002, 2005, and 2007 the amazing Rockin’ 50s Fest took place in Green Bay, Wisconsin; seven days of some of the best rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll, and country acts from the 1950s to the 21st century. Some of the artists that performed included Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Link Wray, the Collins Kids, Hank Thompson, Ike Turner, The Crickets, and many, many more. I attended two of the festivals, flying into Chicago and enjoying road trips to Milwaukee and eastern Wisconsin to Green Bay. Previously I posted about George’s Steak House in Appleton. Today we’ll be visiting a small town with not just one, but two original mid-century drive-ins – Oshkosh, Wisconsin.


photo by The Jab, 2007

photo by The Jab, 2007


Ardy & Ed’s Drive-In is perhaps the only original mid-century drive-in left that still has car hops on roller skates (actually, in the 1950s the car hops here didn’t wear roller skates, as you can barely make out in this photo).


Southside A&W, 1958 - photo by Ardy & Ed's Drive-In

Southside A&W, Oshkosh, 1958 – photo by Ardy & Ed’s Drive-In


It opened in 1948 as the Southside A&W Drive-In, one of a chain of A&W Root Beer drive-ins around the country. A few functioning A&W drive-ins still exist, mostly in Wisconsin and Michigan.


A&W car hop, 1964 - photo by vintagegal on Tumblr

A&W car hop, 1964 – photo by vintagegal on Tumblr


In 1960 Ardythe and Edward Timm bought the restaurant. In 1972 they went independent, renaming it Ardy & Ed’s, and they continued to make the draft root beer in-house. Today Ardy and her husband Steve own the restaurant, still making fresh root beer each day.


Ardy & Ed Timm - photo by Ardy & Ed's Drive-In

Ardy & Ed Timm – photo by Ardy & Ed’s Drive-In


Ardy and Ed’s menu is long, filled with burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and combo baskets. Their burgers are great and their root beer is outstanding. And of course they have root beer floats (voted best root beer float in Oshkosh), orange floats, and “cows” (root beer or orange soda whipped with ice cream). The ice cream for their floats comes from Cedar Crest, a quality Wisconsin ice cream manufacturer.


photo by The Jab, 2007

photo by The Jab, 2007


Friendly car hops on roller skates take your order and bring your food to your car (from the spring through fall).


photo by Steve on

photo by Steve on


After your meal at Ardy & Ed’s, why not have some frozen custard for dessert? In California we have soft serve ice cream but it is nothing like frozen custard (soft ice cream made with eggs) that you have to go to the midwest, preferably Milwaukee, to really experience (as well as such treats as brats, butter burgers, and lake perch fish fry). In Oshkosh, Leon’s Drive-In (not affiliated with the famous – and fabulous – Leon’s frozen custard in Milwaukee) has made frozen custard fresh every day since 1947.


photo by The Jab, 2005

photo by The Jab, 2005


Leon’s also has car hops! Except in the winter (see last photo below).


photo by The Jab, 2007

photo by The Jab, 2007


Leon’s menu includes sandwiches, such as their famous sloppy-Joe style Joos burger, and custard treats like cones, cups, and sundaes. They have a root beer float made with homemade root beer and frozen custard, and their version of a cow, called a whip. A specialty is their turtle sundae, frozen custard topped with hot fudge, caramel, and pecans.


photo by The Jab, 2007

photo by The Jab, 2007



Turtle Sundaes, image by The Jab, 2007

Turtle Sundaes, photo by The Jab, 2007


If you are ever in eastern Wisconsin, you should stop in Oshkosh for probably the best time travel drive-in experience in the U.S.! The town has a lot of history, so it’s well worth a bit of exploring. The famous Oshkosh B’Gosh overalls are no longer made in Oshkosh, but the company still has its headquarters there.


photo by John Gremmer on Flickr

photo by John Gremmer on Flickr



Ardy & Ed’s Drive-In
2413 S Main St, Oshkosh, WI 54902
(920) 231-5455
Open daily 10:30am-10:00pm (summer); 10:30am-8:00pm (spring & fall); closed in winter (call first)

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Leon’s Frozen Custard
121 W Murdock Ave, Oshkosh, WI 54901920-231-7755
Open Sun-Thu 11:00am-11:00pm, Fri-Sat 11:00am-12:00am (summer, call ahead at other times of year)

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Postcard Panorama – Fazio’s on Fifth, Milwaukee

Fazio’s on Fifth – Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a photo by The Pie Shops Collection on Flickr.

Patio Room Luncheons and Dinners
…in air-conditioned luxury, are an adventure in good eating and your service will be superb.
Here at last is a delightful room in the heart of downtown Milwaukee where you can be proud to entertain or Be entertained.

Innovations like the wide double seats of the padded bar offer Milwaukeeans an exciting new place to meet.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
BR 1-8282

George’s Steak House, Appleton, WI

I love the state of Wisconsin for the friendly people, but also for the food! Brats, lake perch, butter burgers, frozen custard, and of course the cheese! The beer’s great too. But when you’ve got a hankering for a steak you can’t go wrong with George’s in Appleton. Opened in the 1930s, remodeled in 1964 (and mostly unchanged since), it was purchased by the Quimby family in the 1970s, who run the place today. All steaks are aged choice and very reasonably priced – dinner steaks range from $17.95 for a petite tenderloin to $26.95 for a 22-24 oz. Porterhouse, including appetizer bar, salad, soup or tomato juice (a great old tradition you rarely see anymore), choice of potato, and rolls. I went for lunch so took a chance and had a small top sirloin (a leaner steak I rarely enjoy except for in the county of Santa Maria, CA, where it’s a specialty and always good), and I was pleased with this juicy, beefy, tender center-cut steak. If cut correctly and cooked rare to medium rare it’s a good steak for lighter appetites (and low in fat).

George's top sirloin 8 oz. lunch steak of center cut Angus beef.

The dining room is original 1960s decor with plenty of wood and a wall of horizontal stone, plus original furniture (check out photos on their website). George’s piano bar features a 125-year-old Steinway Grand with entertainment every Friday and Saturday night starting at 7:30pm.

George’s Steak House
2208 S Memorial Dr, Appleton, WI 54911
(920) 733-4939
Lunch Mon-Fri: 11:00am-2:00pm
Dinner Mon-Th: 5:00pm-10:00pm, Fri-Sat: 5:00pm-10:30pm
Closed Sundays and Holidays
George’s website

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