Dog n Suds

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Dog n Suds logo.png

Dog n Suds (a cost-reduction of Dog 'n' Suds, which is itself a precision-reducing rendering of Dog and Suds) is a chain of drive-in restaurants in the Midwestern United States, founded in 1953 in Champaign, Illinois.


The Dog represents the venerable American hot dog, while the Suds stands for root beer, which itself stands for beer, the difference being you can get mildly drunk on the latter but not at all on the former. This is an advantage, as customers receive service by driving their automobiles into covered stalls outside the restaurant and, with any luck, drive home afterwards. A server on roller skates arrives to take the order and deliver the food.

Figuratively, the dog in "Dog n Suds" represents a canine of unclear breed, because the best advertising in the world has always been a good animal act. Despite this, the reader is advised not to let Fido bring food on a tray out from the kitchen to the driveway. On the off chance that Fido didn't go straight for the meat, the result might be Dog in Suds.


Two University of Illinois music teachers named Griggs and Hamacher opened the first Dog n Suds as their own magnum opus. Presently, a wealthy patron of the first outlet named Bubba asked the boys to open a second branch, on his side lot to minimize the time of his commute. By then, Bubba was fat enough that, when he walked next door to the restaurant, his body would occupy an entire parking space.


A Dog n Suds at night. Bubba has not yet walked over; nor has anyone else, which is a portent of the chain's present state.

Thanks to Bubba, the founders saw that the restaurant seemed to catch on anywhere they opened them. It immediately catered to the relentless American urge toward greater efficiency, in this case eliminating the step of stepping out of the car and walking into a building. The obvious next step was franchising: allowing random other people to open their own Dog n Suds, and remitting a small percentage of the profits to Griggs and Hamacher for having thought up the racket. Before long, they opened "Rover College" in Champaign, in case the new franchisees knew as little about food service and sanitation as a pair of music teachers probably did. The chain eventually comprised 650 restaurants.

Rover College itself became a franchise, the most notorious outlet being Hamburger University upstate, where McDonald's franchisees learn how to fill out their daily forms.

Intractable design problems[edit]

Unfortunately, the concept had intractable problems. It was inherently a seasonal business; the canopy shielded the cars from some weather, but not freezing wind and drifting snow. Properties were left vacant during most of the school year — though, in places like Cadillac, Michigan, the entirety of Main Street shut down too, so franchisees did not worry about anyone else leapfrogging them in wealth. Drive-in movies eventually adopted the "in-car heater" to extend their seasons, but the only Dog n Suds to move in this direction was the franchise in Peru, Indiana, which attached to the squawk box to summon the server a small stove — sadly, powered by coal. This outlet was one of the first to fail.

Dining was also made less pleasant by the fact that the diners could not look at one another but, at most, at their backs.

The greatest problem was the mosquito. Rolling down the windows was known in those days as "factory air" and using repellent would be repellent to the diners and not to the bugs. Every visit to Dog n Suds was guaranteed to be awful, though the food and service were great. Due to the gastric nature of the offerings, eating with the windows up tended to be equally repellent to the diners.


The trend toward efficiency gave way to the trend to build a business and then sell out to someone who yearns for a steady stream of royalty checks, versus delivering quality service. Eventually, the chain was sold to a bottler of root beer, who saw a cute way to get people to drink it. Only, they didn't.

Inevitably, the nation passed through hard times, Champaign itself merging with its neighbor, renaming itself Champaign-Urbana and getting cost-reduced until no one went there.

Currently, fifteen proud Dog n Suds branches preserve the venerable tradition of giving patrons the extinct experience of a drive-in movie, only with nothing on the screen. Which is just as well, these days.

See also[edit]