Rudy’s Drive in Celebrates 90 years in business.
William Rudy opened his first A&W Root Beer Stand in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, in 1933.
Through the 1930s and forties, he purchased two and built two more A&W Root Beer Stands throughout La Crosse, WI, growing each into a thriving business against the odds of the Great Depression and World War II. In 1947, Rudy built his first drive-in-style restaurant, an A&W Drive-In. The current location on La Crosse Street was built in 1966 and continues to be an iconic landmark in La Crosse, complete with roller skating carhops.
William Rudy was succeeded in business by his son Dale, who had worked in the restaurants since childhood. In 1979, Gary Rudy—William’s grandson and Dale’s son—became the third-generation owner and ran the business until 2022.
Justin Smith of La Crosse, WI, took ownership in 2022 after working for the Rudy family since 1994. He started his career mowing the lawn and prepping vegetables. Justin and his wife, Kate, run the business now and they are looking forward to the time when their three children, Tucker, Lena, and Blake can join them in the family business.
The staff at Rudy’s Drive In, thank you all for allowing them to serve the local community over the last nine decades.