As the saying goes, all good things have to come to an end. Although I understand that my world around me is constantly changing and evolving, it doesn’t mean that it is always easy to accept.
Growing up in Mountain Lake, a small farming community in southwest Minnesota, life was pretty consistent from year to year. We had our families, our friends, our school, our hang out (which happened to be the Dairy Queen® store) and numerous other things that helped define who we were and who we’d become later in life.
Recently, while visiting my mom who still lives in the same house in which I grew up, I realized just how much Mountain Lake had changed since I moved away more than 25 years ago. Highway 60, which used to run through the heart of my community, now skirts around its edges giving travelers nary a glimpse of what life must be like in town.
The public high school, once home of the Lakers, our orange and black colors and rich heritage, now has a consolidated sports program with a neighboring community and claims a silver and maroon wolverine as its mascot.
Other than the local post office, none of the main street businesses from my past such as Mix bakery, Our Own and Gambles hardware stores, Epps Department store, Manor Inn restaurant, or Jack and Jill grocery store are still in operation. The buildings are there, but the people and merchandise that was once offered there are no longer.
Perhaps one of the hardest things to accept as I drove through town this time was not seeing the familiar red DQ® ellipse sign that always seemed to welcome young and old alike. You see, the Dairy Queen that had always been there for me after school, after practice, after games, on dates, after swimming, when I needed to grab a quick bite for lunch or dinner or just hang out in front of with friends, is no more. Oh, the building is there and is in the process of being renovated into an independent establishment, but the familiar DQ restaurant, as I had always known and remembered it, is now gone.
Sadly, it is the end of an era. Just as I’ve said good-bye to friends and family members, I say good-bye to “my DQ.” Yes, unfortunately, all good things do have to come to an end. It was a wonderful run and I am glad that the memories I experienced there are still as fresh as the creamy soft serve that was once enjoyed by tens of thousands of customers through the years just like me.
Even though the DQ location of my youth has closed, the cool thing is that there are more than 250 DQ restaurants to visit throughout the state, and nearly 4,600 throughout the country. We have our own Dairy Queen restaurant where I live today, which gives me the opportunity to take my two boys and start making their own lifelong memories. And if the tradition holds true, I’m confident that someday soon, they will come to refer to it as their DQ.
With more than 5,600 Dairy Queen® locations in the world, there are bound to be some unique and interesting stories that go with them. For instance, there is a six-ton NASA space capsule sitting in front of a Franklin, Pa., DQ® restaurant; Bill Gates used a Kirkland, Wash., DQ restaurant for a mock business meeting he was filming for a documentary; and last winter a couple tied the knot at a Bethlehem, Pa., DQ Grill & Chill® restaurant.
But in Nappanee, Ind., there is one Dairy Queen location that boasts something unique to the DQ system—a 100-foot-long hitching post for Amish buggies. After a tornado ripped through the small town in 2007 and destroyed the local DQ restaurant, the owners bought property in a better location and built a new DQ Grill & Chill® restaurant.
Along with the new space came room for more seating inside and outside, and a bigger parking lot. To accommodate the large Amish population in the area, the owners decided to build the hitching post that can hold up to 10 Amish buggies. It even comes with a separate driveway.
Many Dairy Queen® operators give back to the community through donations of gift certificates, cakes, food and treats. Others agree to pick a certain day, and for two or three hours donate a percentage of sales to an organization. One operator from Kentucky has begun to do the latter, and is quite happy with the results.
He says this idea has generated more revenue, increased the customer base and given the local organization a tangible donation. His most recent fundraising events were for a local food pantry and a church. He holds the fundraisers on a Monday or Tuesday evening, requires that the head of the organization be present and that members of the organization deliver the food to the tables.
It is the participation from the organization that makes the most difference, and friends and family want to come into the restaurant to see people they know working, and to help donate to the organization via purchasing great DQ® food and treats. Everyone wins.
We want to thank everyone who stopped at a Dairy Queen® location on Aug. 13 to purchase a Blizzard® Treat in support of Miracle Treat Day. This year was very different in that, for the first time, we used the social Web to help spread the word about Miracle Treat Day. So thank you to everyone who tweeted on Twitter or shared information regarding Miracle Treat Day on their blog or became fans of Dairy Queen on Facebook.
I had the opportunity to join John Gainor, the president and CEO of International Dairy Queen Corporation, on a trip to Dayton, Ohio, on Miracle Treat Day. We visited The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton and three Dairy Queen locations in the Dayton area. Here are some highlights from my trip with John Gainor on Miracle Treat Day:
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Thursday, Aug. 13, 2009 is Miracle Treat Day, and if you haven’t read any of our other posts regarding Miracle Treat Day, or haven’t been motivated to head out to a particpating Dairy Queen® location yet, here’s a little more information for your regarding this amazing day.
Since 1984, the DQ® system has raised over $77 million to help make miracles happen for children at Children’s Miracle Network hospitals throughout North America. On Miracle Treat Day 2008, DQ raised $5.7 million for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, and we hope to raise as much, if not more, this summer.
Buy a Blizzard® Treat at a participating DQ® location tomorrow and $1 or more per Blizzard will benefit the Children’s Miracle Network hospital in your area. The funds raised stay local, so you’ll be helping to save and improve the lives of children in your community!
Remember to buy a Blizzard Treat on Aug. 13 and SAVE A LIFE!
Some famous faces are helping to raise awareness about Miracle Treat Day to benefit Children’s Miracle Network on August 13. Monique Coleman from High School Musical, John Schneider and Marie Osmond! Check out their videos!
If you’re like me, you probably grew up with one or more heroes. I remember at age five thinking Superman was the bravest person on the planet. He was my hero and I faithfully wore my very own homemade Superman costume just to be like him.
As an adult, I still believe in heroes – people throughout history who have made a profound difference in all of our lives – but even more so, to me the real heroes are the young children who face incredible odds just to make it through each day. They are the unsung heroes, patients in children’s hospitals all over North America who, instead of playing soccer or the violin or dressing up like their favorite caped crusader, battle diseases such as leukemia or medulloblastoma. These children face at a very young age what most of us can’t ever imagine having to deal with during our lifetime and they do it with courage and grace.
Children’s Miracle Network raises money and awareness for 170 hospitals throughout North America. Each year these hospitals provide the finest medical care to help millions of children. Dairy Queen®, which has long been a cause partner of Children’s Miracle Network, will celebrate the fourth annual North American Miracle Treat Day on August 13. On that Thursday, participating DQ® stores all over the U.S. and Canada will donate $1 or more to their local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals for every Blizzard® Treat sold. Last year, $5.7 million was raised to help children and families.
Can you think of a better way to cool off this summer and simultaneously help children in need?
I hope you will join us at your favorite Dairy Queen location on August 13 to help create smiles and stories while we make miracles for our littlest heroes. For more information visit MiracleTreatDay.com!
I have been a fan of the DQ® system for decades, and grew up with a small walk-up store near my childhood Minneapolis home. During my lifetime so far, I’ve watched the brand evolve yet keep its nostalgic feel. It is a significant part of not only my history, but also the memories of many, many others. A DQ® restaurant operator in Franklin, Pa., has taken this history idea to a whole new level—there is a six-ton, genuine NASA space capsule right in the front yard of the restaurant. It seems NASA had a number of capsule “shells” constructed after an abortive 1961 Mercury mission. The ill-fated capsule’s hatch blew, leaving the craft to sink into the Atlantic Ocean before crews could retrieve it, although that spacecraft was recently recovered. After that, NASA used the extra capsules in training; they’d parachute them into the ocean so Navy frogmen could practice retrieving them. This particular space capsule came to be in front of the DQ® restaurant because the operator purchased it after he heard of it sitting at a U.S. government junkyard nearby. What unique or interesting items have you seen displayed in front of DQ® locations?
Wanted to share the following post with all of you. This post comes from the Vice President of MARCOM (Marketing & Communications) Tim Hawley.
Take me out to the ball game. Take me out with the crowd . . .
Father’s Day is something special for all of us who are raising or have raised children. Through the ups and downs, we’ll all agree that the journey is worth it.
This Father’s Day will be a little more special, particularly for some parents of some very extraordinary kids. On Saturday, June 20, I am proud to say that American Dairy Queen Corporation is sponsoring Dilly® Bar Day at Bennett Family Park in Minnetonka, Minn., for the West Metro Miracle League. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Miracle League, it was formed to give children with disabilities between the ages of three and 19 the opportunity to play baseball, regardless of their abilities. The belief of this organization is that “every child deserves a chance to play baseball.”
Organizations like the West Metro Miracle League depend on the support of companies such as Dairy Queen®, and for me, I am grateful the company has chosen to sponsor a cause near and dear to my heart. As the father of a seven-year-old special needs daughter, I can attest first hand the amazing impact this organization has on these children and on all the kids who play ball at Bennett Park.
Like many other parents who are in the stands and who help out on the field, I am grateful that our kids have the chance to participate in a sport they would not otherwise be able to partake in. For these kids, the entire experience builds self esteem, instills confidence and creates for them a sense of belonging.
The Miracle League also impacts the buddies of our kids – their peers all from other baseball teams within the park who help them bat, field, assist them around the bases and help with the fundamentals of the game. Buddies learn that the special ed kids are simply kids, just like they them. It is truly inclusion at work. Parents in the ball park are also exposed to these kids in ways that reinforce all the good that exists with this generation of kids and accept and embrace in ways never before considered.
All kids want to feel a part of something, but for kids with disabilities the Miracle League is truly magical. Often, there are more fans at Miracle League games than any other field at the park. Just watching them participate and then to see the unadulterated joy on each of their faces, humbles us all. I think I speak for all of the parents when I say that we are bursting with pride as we watch our sons and daughters enjoying themselves so much on the field.
So we hope you’ll join us if you are in the neighborhood on Saturday, June 20. The games are at 10:30 and noon. Even if you just want to stop by for a free Dairy Queen Dilly Bar, we’d love to see you.
See how the West Metro Miracle League makes these kids and our entire community shine in a touching video at miracleleaguemn.com/Minnetonka/video.html.
If you’d like to attend a game or get involved, please know that there are 100 Miracle League fields throughout the United States and more than 100 more planned for 2010. My hope is that our DQ® operators and customers across North America want to support and get involved themselves in the Miracle. Baseball and DQ… is there a better match?
As Memorial Day gets closer, I started thinking about how some see it as a three-day weekend that marks the beginning of summer, while others, especially the nation’s thousands of combat veterans, see it as an important reminder of those who died in the service of their country. One of my good friends has a son in his early 20s who is currently in his second round of service in Iraq. It got me to thinking about the sacrifices our military personnel make for our country and how I appreciate when they receive even small privileges as a result of those sacrifices.
I recently read a letter sent to the Dairy Queen® corporate headquarters from a customer who, while ordering at a DQ® drive-thru, saw a group of uniformed military personnel enter the restaurant. When she reached the pick-up window, she asked the employee to use her credit card to pay for the service members’ orders as well. The employee did as she requested and explained as she returned the customers’ credit card that the charges would be less than she anticipated because uniformed military personnel enjoy a half-price discount at that DQ location. The customer went on to say she thought this was a great policy.
What do you think of this policy? What other examples of discounts to service members have you come across?