Duluth native, Mike Ekberg has been going to the A & Dubs’s Drive-In for as long as he can remember.
“Nothing was better than my parents throwing me in the backseat and driving up to the A & Dubs,” said Ekberg. “Ever since then I have to go back every summer.”
The A & Dubs, Duluth’s first drive-in, was originally opened in 1950 by Lloyd and Shirley Tillman as part of the A & W franchise. Jim and Lois Kent took over the franchise in 1959 and operated it as an A & W until 1973 when they decided not to renew the franchise agreement.
“My dad decided not to renew the franchise because they wanted us to standardize our root beer and get rid of our homemade sauces,” said the current owner, Sandy Hantz. She and her husband, Syl Hantz, have operated the local favorite since 1978.
Sandy and Syl keep those very same recipes secret and exclusive to their locally owned and family operated drive-in. Fresh cut coleslaw, house-made coney and barbecue sauce and root beer that’s made on-site are among some of the favorites that keep the regulars coming back.
“I personally love the coney’s,” said Ekberg. “However, if I go, there is no doubt my food is coming with a fresh-made root beer. The root beer is hands down the best in the region.”
The A & Dubs is located at 3131 West 3rd street in Duluth, Minnesota. It is a cash-only business that typically operates seasonally between May and Oct. Their last expected day of operation this season is Oct. 5th, with weather permitting. The normal hours of operation are 10:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. To order for car side pickup, A & Dubs can be contacted by phone at (218) 624-0198.
Check out their Facebook page to see when they open next spring (May 2020).