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Scotty’s Drive-In

Aug 26, 2019

Classic cars… “Rebel” burgers and dill pickle shakes…the best fries in the state of North Dakota…the coolest kids meals in town…a first kiss.

What do these things have in common?

Any resident that has been living in Bismarck/Mandan knows that these can all be found (*the last one does not come with a guarantee) at what is reportedly the third oldest remaining restaurant in town – Scotty’s Drive-In. Founded in 1964, Scotty’s Drive-In has been serving this Bismarck-Mandan community for over 53 years. This drive-in restaurant seeks to provide a nostalgic atmosphere for customers through their outdoor seating, classic car events, and unique menu items.  

It’s no doubt this burger joint is a staple icon and a “must see” destination for people all over the region.

Because Scotty’s Drive-In has been around for over half a century, the business comes with a long line of memories, milestones, and changes. It wasn’t until 2016, however, that Kurt Dilger was welcomed into this historical journey.

A local restaurant manager, Kurt has been working in the restaurant industry since he was 12 years old. This is why, when the current owners decided to sell the business, they knew just who to ask.

After some thought and negotiations, Kurt decided to say “yes” to yet another new business venture and purchase Scotty’s Drive-In.

“Scotty’s Drive-In is 53 years old. It’s an icon in the city of Bismarck. I’ve lived here all my life and it’s always been in town. I decided to purchase it because I knew I could help it maintain the legacy it has had for so many years already.”

The first step? Find the financing necessary to make this purchase. It wasn’t until Kurt asked Dakota Community Bank about the different types of programs available that he became aware of the SBA 504 loan program through Dakota Business Lending. This loan program requires a significantly smaller down payment, fixed below-market interest rate, and longer terms, making it easier to maintain cash flow for day-to-day business operations. Together, Kurt worked with Dakota Business Lending and Dakota Community Bank to secure this loan and move forward with purchasing the business.

“This program really helps entrepreneurs to start their business,” Kurt explained. “Compared to any other options, it’s a great program. It was a great opportunity for Scotty’s, and [Dakota Business Lending] was with us every step of the way.”

Now, Kurt was ready to set out on his mission: to grow Scotty’s Drive-In like never before. His first goal was to rebrand the business and make it relevant to today, all while keeping the nostalgic heart which is Scotty’s. In addition, he also wanted to better streamline the kitchen to increase efficiency for his employees and, in turn, better serve their clients. Lastly, Kurt planned to remodel the 60+ year old building, improving its overall appearance and functionality. While these are all big changes, he was confident that they would help Scotty’s Drive-In continue its way on the road to the success.

And his efforts have proven to be effective!

Since 2016, Scotty’s Drive-In has seen almost a 150% increase in sales, many of which coming from a younger crowd, which Kurt attributes to the business’s rebrand. Due to its streamlining efforts, Scotty’s Drive-In was also able to hire additional full-time employees, thus creating more jobs for the Bismarck/Mandan community. Finally, after spending over $150,000 on remodeling, Scotty’s Drive-In is now a new and enhanced restaurant that both its customers and its employees love.

And the road to the success continues!

“Our sales are up huge. We have over 1,000 people on our VIP program and around 7,000 Facebook followers. And we’re packed – the dining room, the outside, the parking lot – it’s all packed. It’s totally changed, and the reputation is back again like it used to be in the early days. The customers love the place.”

From donating, getting involved in car or motorcycle shows, or sponsoring other community events, Scotty’s Drive-In works hard to give back to the community that has helped them get to where they are today. And as always, Kurt still looks for ways to continue to grow and improve Scotty’s Drive-In for his customers, whom he sees as the best part of owning his own business and the reason behind his passion for restaurant management.

“I love it. I just have a lot of fun with our customers,” says Kurt with a smile. “It’s my passion to own a business and work with people, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to wake up knowing I get to do it every day.”

For more information on Scotty’s Drive-In or to check it out yourself, visit their website.
Or better yet, stop and enjoy a delicious, classic burger & fries – you won’t be disappointed!

This article was written by Dakota Business Lending with permission from Scotty’s Drive-In and is not to be edited or redistributed without permission.