Lori Bamis has fond memories of eating at the now destroyed Dairy Queen on the Portage Trail in Cuyahoga Falls.
Bamis, 45, of Jackson Township grew up in the falls near the DQ. When she was a teenager, she and a friend spent a lot of their money babysitting at Dairy Queen.
âI grew up walking to the Dairy Queen,â she said.
Over the decades, Bamis remained a regular customer even when she moved to a county.
âWe go there once a week,â she said when she and her two children visit her parents at the falls. She and her family need Dairy Queen ice cream cakes for family birthdays, among other things.
The Dairy Queen, which has been a staple of the falls since the 1960s, is now a pile of rubble that is trucked away in what you might call a blizzard of activity. Demolition began last week, with the last standing wall falling this week. The soil will be backfilled, smoothed and then covered with asphalt.
But soon, Bamis and other DQ aficionados will be able to satisfy their cravings at the brand new Dairy Queen which was built next to the original location.
âWe are delighted that the new one is here,â said Bamis.
The new Dairy Queen is expected to open in early December, possibly as early as December 1, provided there are no delays, said Karl Warther, owner and group chairman, SPGR Enterprises Inc., which since 2013 has been owner of this business and three others. Dairy Queens in the area.
A larger Grill & Chill format
The new store is the latest Dairy Queen Grill & Chill format. Its location and larger size solves issues that could not be addressed in the now demolished store, Warther said.
The Grill & Chill store design will have a dual drive-thru lane, Warther said. “Double drive-thru is new for Dairy Queen.”
The new drive-thru is expected to eliminate the old store’s traffic lines that frequently backed up on the roads, he said. There will also be a larger parking lot and the contemporary interior will also be larger, he said.
âWe’ve always wanted to build a new store,â Warther said.
Having a new store built became more urgent when the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in more customers driving behind the wheel and fewer customers in stores, he said. He and his partners – family and friends – decided last summer that it was time to build. A previous owner had already done some preliminary work by purchasing an adjacent property for expansion plans.
âThe business has grown and it has really grown with COVID,â Warther said. “The first month or so [of the pandemic], it was a ghost town. Then everyone who was locked up went out to get some ice cream. “
More employees to hire
The new store will ideally have between 55 and 60 employees, compared to around 30 to 35 in the old store, Warther said. Day shifts currently earn about $ 13 an hour; 15-year-olds get $ 11 an hour and at 16, $ 12, he said.
âWe have a great crew here,â said Warther. âWe have a very good network and a support system. “
The menu, a mix of DQ frozen desserts, grilled meats, chicken sandwiches and more, will be familiar to longtime customers, he said.
Michelle Anderson, who owned the Dairy Queen for 38 years on East Cuyahoga Falls Avenue in Akron, said her late father Richard Fulton built the original Dairy Queen building on the site of the Portage Trail in the Falls . Anderson said his father and mother owned up to eight Dairy Queens in the area at a time.
“He and my mother ran the [Portage Trail] Dairy Queen until she was 16, ârecalls Anderson. âI remember the kids coming down from lunch at Cuyahoga Falls High School. [and coming to the store]. “
Anderson said she wished Warther the best with the new facility. “I will love to see the new building.”
‘It’s funny. It’s ice cream ‘
Akron University graduate Warther recalled that he and his partners had no experience running a restaurant business when they purchased Dairy Queen stores. They were helped by the previous owners, he said.
âWe came and learned the trade,â Warther said. “It’s fun. We’re having a blast. It’s ice cream.”
Beacon Journal reporter Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or [email protected] Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: New Cuyahoga Falls Dairy Queen Set to Open on Portage Trail Soon