Opened in September 1964, Scotty’s Drive-in is reportedly the third-oldest continuously operating restaurant in Bismarck (behind Broadway Dairy Queen and Big Boy). Once a regional chain, the Bismarck location is one of only four survivors, none of which have any affiliation with each other.
A second location, penned Scotty’s Jr., opened in 1977 downtown before relocating near Gateway Mall in 1978 before closing.
For decades, Scotty’s was known for its unique non-written recollection-based ordering. The order-taker would verbally recite the entire order by memory into the kitchen rather than formally transcribing it.
Keeping to its retro roots, it’s common to see classic cars in Scotty’s parking lot, especially during an annual event for which Scotty’s sponsors.
Scotty’s serves a traditional “fast food” menu, cooked fresh. The Rebel Burger, named after local KFYR Radio personality “Ol’ Reb” Jack Fisher, is arguably its most well-known offering. Other notable items include such popular local favorites as fleischkuechle and knoephla soup, as well as the Tartar Burger and the Shrimp Sandwich.
It seems that each of the Scotty’s locations named some of their menu offerings after local personalities or notable individuals. While the Bismarck and Aberdeen locations each had a burger named after KFYR personality Jack Fisher, locations elsewhere had similar menu items named after well-known individuals from their respective region.
Bob Koch and Bob Hintz opened the local Scotty’s franchise in September 1964. It was the city’s second drive-in (after Big Boy).
The Scotty’s franchise chain dissolved in 1968, at which time, the Bismarck location apparently operated as “Sandy’s” for a short time before reverting back to its original name.
Roehrich Ownership (1973-2007)
Koch bought out Hintz in 1973, along with his interest in the DownTowner – a lounge and restaurant located at 208 N 4th Street, which the pair opened in March of that year.
That same year, Richard and Carol Roehrich acquired a 25% ownership interest in Scotty’s, shortly after Richard graduated from college. Richard began working for Scotty’s in 1964 – only months after it opened. Within a few years, the Roehrichs acquire full ownership from Koch. The Roehrichs maintained ownership until 2007.
In 1977, the DownTowner was converted into a fast food format called “Scotty’s Jr.” Junior relocated in 1978 to 1045 Interstate Avenue (present home of Country House Deli). It is unclear when Scotty’s Jr. closed.
Indoor seating was added to the original Scotty’s in 1985.
2007 Ownership Change, Renovation
The restaurant changed hands in 2007 after a 35-year ownership by the Roehrichs. The new owners, David and Nancy Turner, completed several renovations, including restoring the original sign, albeit with a slightly altered appearance.
A drive-through was added in 2008, around the same time Scotty’s temporarily experimented with adding breakfast items to its menu.
2012 saw a major interior remodel, the first in decades, which saw a more-open dining area and freshened new retro look.
2016 Ownership Change
In January 2016, Scotty’s was purchased by local restaurant manager Kurt Dilger. Its new owner extended the restaurant’s hours, including temporarily opening on Sundays. Dilger also implemented other improvements, including a new website, new menu offerings, and a kids meal caddy.
Scotty’s was once a regional chain with locations in at least six states. As of 1966, Scotty’s had seven locations in both Dakotas, Montana, Idaho, and Nebraska.
The first Scotty’s apparently in 1962 in Aberdeen, South Dakota.
Today, only four locations remain operating, all independently: Bismarck, ND, Aberdeen, SD, Scottsbluff, NE, and Idaho Falls, ID.
The original location, in Aberdeen, temporarily ceased when its name and format were changed to Daddy’s Bar & Grill in 2009, before reverting again in 2015.