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 Henning's' opened Memorial Day (May 30) 1959 and ran the family business for the next 20 years. In 1979, when Val retired, Bill and David Henning purchased the drive-in and operated the fast food restaurant together until 1990. Presently the food service operation is owned by David Henning. In 2009 Val's Rapid Serv celebrated a 50 year anniversary and currently is 55 years old.
The official name Val's Rapid Serv was an attempt by area independent drive-in owners to organize a no cost regional franchise. The limited menus offered by the Rapid Serv restaurants gave them an instant identity and increased their purchasing power to compete with the other regional franchise restaurants. (Sandy's, Henry's, McCarthy's) When the national franchise chains began to expand the loosely formed regional franchise units fell apart and soon closed. (McDonalds, Burger King, Hardees) Many Rapid Serv restaurants were located in central Minnesota but Val's Rapid Serv is the only known survivor. Today the St. Cloud landmark is simply called "Val's".
Until the fast food market could be established in St. Cloud Val's was a summer seasonal business open for just 6 months each year. As the business grew so did the season length. When Val owned the business the season started February 22nd and ended December 24th. Bill and David opened February 1st and closed December 24th. Today Val's is enjoyed year around with daily hours of operation from 11 AM to 7 PM seven days a week. The tiny 490 square foot restaurant serves 250-350 hungry customers each day.
Before JFK was president, before the Vietnam War, before man walked on the moon, before personal computers, before video games, and before cell phones Val's been a fixture on St. Cloud's East Side. That's over seven decades of world changing events. Val's is a successful restaurant for who they are; not what they could be. 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. If today is your first visit or an annual stop it's always a pleasure to serve you at Val's.