1924, teacher Frank Stewart was looking for a way to supplement his income
during the summer months.
So he borrowed a popular restaurant concept from the West Coast --- a fast-food drive-in establishment that served root beer and popcorn.
His original concept was simple. The drive-in would feature Stewart's Root Beer in a cold mug and also sell salted popcorn. Stewart figured that selling popcorn with just the right amount of salt would increase his Stewart's Root Beer sales. He was right.
However, he first had to develop a unique root beer recipe to differentiate it from the competition, mainly A&W Root Beer, which was produced in California. By blending over 20 extract varieties of roots, barks, herbs and berries, he and a flavor chemist with J. Hungerford Co. developed Stewart's Root Beer.
Thus, the first Stewart's Drive-In, featuring root beer and popcorn, delivered to customer's cars by carhops, was opened in Mansfield, Ohio.
In 1931, Stewart was approached by an aspiring entrepreneur, John L. Mandt, who wanted to purchase a franchise to operate a Stewart's Drive-In. Subsequently, the first franchise opened a year later in Huntington, W. Va., and is still owned and operated by Mandt's grandson, who took the business over from his father. Today the Mandt family owns and operates three Stewart's Drive-Ins in the Hunington area.
Over the next 38 years, the company operated successfully, changing ownership twice, first to Robert Ransbottom and then to Raymond Beck, both of whom were Ohio businessmen who operated as sole owners.
In March 1971, Beck sold the company to Frostie Enterprises, a Camden based flavor manufacturer. Frostie Enterprises owned Stewart's until Dec. 31, 1979, when Frostie was purchased by Moxie Industries, which then sold Stewart's to David Chapaton and Michael Fessler. They formed a new company, De Novo Corp., to operate Stewart's and another franchise that Fessler owns in the Midwest --- Dogs 'n Suds.
Two years later, Chapaton's share of the company was bought out by Fessler, who currently remains owner of Stewart's Restaurant Inc.
Send mail to StewartsFood.com with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 2007 Stewart's Foods