Val's Rapid Serv is a time capsule in a white paper bag.

I think the homepage of this iconic burger joint says it all:

Half a century ago; Val's Rapid Serv, an independent limited menu fast food take-out restaurant was born at 628 E. St. Germain in St. Cloud, Minnesota. An abandoned Pure Oil gas station was purchased and converted to a restaurant by Val and Kathleen Henning.

The dining experience has been the same when your grandparents brought your parents; when your parents brought you and now when you introduce your family to Val's. That's the magic that keeps the Val's story alive.

The restaurant was originally opened on Memorial Day in 1959, and has been owned and operated by Hennings ever since.

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What you might not know about Val's Rapid Serv is that it was part of a chain of restaurants. Area independent drive-in owners wanted to start a no-cost regional franchise. The limited menus on 'rapid serv' menus gave them purchase power over to compete with other regional franchise restaurants. Unfortunately, when national chains like McDonald's and Burger King moved in, the area's rapid serv locations closed. Today only Val's remains.

The image above is courtesy of the St. Cloud State Archives and is of Val's from 1987 when Bill and David Henning purchased the drive-in. Over 33 years later and Val's looks the exact same. The only real difference is a fresh seat coating on the parking lot done this summer. The same made fresh burgers and fries are moving out of the old gas station, just like Val and Kathleen did back in 1959.

Abbey Minke
Abbey Minke

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