Gertie's Drive-Inn
1000 North Main

46°35'50.95"N 112° 1'57.12"W

Gertie's Began as a Richardson Root Beer Franchise in 1949
First Opened as Martello's

On May 18 1949, Jean and John Martello opened the Richardson Root Beer franchise "Martello's Drive-Inn" at 1000 N. Main. They sold out in 1952 to Gertrude A. Dorner Richeson (1914-2004), and her husband Bob. Gertie's Drive-In became a mainstay in Helena for decades, and Gertie became known as "The Hamburger Queen". Richeson sold the business, and the "Gertie's" name, in 1961 to Ralph A. Hahn.


Martello's 1949-1951

Ad for Martello's grand opening, May 18 1949.


COURTESY OF KATHRYN FEHLIG

Martello's Drive-Inn sign on N. Main, 1951.

 

 

Opened as Gertie's, 1952



 

Gertie's Sign on North Main, Early 1950s


Said "Gertie" in a 2001 Independent Record newspaper feature: “My mother cooked a 33-pound turkey every day and a roast and a great big ham, and I would cook a big kettle of chili and all of it would be gone by the end of the day. We made everything ourselves and we dipped our own ice cream — no packaged stuff at our place, not us, course there wasn’t any back then really.”





Gertie's seasonal closing ad, 1952.



Gertie Sells to Ralph A. Hahn, 1961
Photo courtesy of Aimee Hahn March

Matchbook from Gertie's Drive-in, 1960s, with the legend "Recommended by Ralph A. Hahn". Hahn (1923-1985) was the owner then; he also jointly owned the Sky-Hi Drive-in Theatre east of Helena. Hahn was a real estate broker who had interests in other enterprises in the Helena and Lincoln areas, including the Hofbrau on Euclid Ave. Hahn sold out to Curtis and Helen Brown in 1972. They operated the restaurant until 1991.



Grand Opening of the New Gertie's, May 22 1962


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Three Photos of Gertie's, 1964
Courtesy of Aimee Hahn March


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Gertie's, circa 1992


COURTESY OF J. M. COOPER • CLICK ON IMAGE FOR A BIG VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW


Gertie's was owned and operated by Curtis and Helen Brown from 1972 to 1991. The restaurant was extensively damaged by a grill fire in September of 1991, and closed shortly thereafter. It is still remembered fondly by many Helenans. The "Gertie Burger" and Gertie's turkey sandwiches are especially missed.


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