Dairy Queen’s menu is famous for its Blizzard.
The fast-food chain opened its latest location Feb. 12 in Killdeer during the middle of a sub-zero cold snap stretching across the Midwest.
By Brad Mosher
In spite of the severe weather, the local response was far from being cold, according to the manager, Rebecca Dennison.
A native to Bismarck, the North Dakota resident moved to Killdeer after three years at the Dairy Queen in Bottineau.
She said she was hired to run the Killdeer location in April and moved to the area in May. She was working on construction side until it opened for training in early February.
“When I first moved here, they told me that they hoped to open by September But we had construction delays,” she said.
The city’s first drive-thru has a mix of about 25 full and part-time workers, she said. “About a quarter of them are full-time.”
When she first started taking applications, Dennison said it was kind of a slow response, attributing it to the construction delays the restaurant was having. “It was a little slow, but in the end, it all came pouring in. There were lots of good applicants. I was very pleased with what I found in the application pool and the team that I have built off of them.
“It’s the new exciting place to work in town,” she added.
She was even more pleased with the response when the Dairy Queen opened two days ahead of schedule.
“It was amazing. It started right away and didn’t stop all day,” she said. “It hasn’t really stopped since. The community, the people who are living here now, the oilfield traffic, they are all very supportive,” she said.
According to Dennison, some of the customers have told her they have been waiting for months for it to open in town. “They are so glad there is a Dairy Queen. They are so glad there is a drive-thru.
“The drive thru is a success. It is a huge bonus.”
The restaurant already has a lunch rush and an after-school rush, she explained.
In addition, she said there is a lot of traffic with the shift changes in the oilfields. It will be from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., then they’ll get a quick break before the supper rush.
If there is a local athletic event, it won’t close at 8 p.m., she added.
When it comes to the menu, the “Half-Pound Flamethrowers” have been the most popular item so far,” she said. In addition, the soft pretzels with queso cheese and chicken strips with country gravy have been other hot items.
Dennison said that is probably a seasonal surge where the hot food items are more popular than the treats.
When it comes to Blizzard, the ice cream treat is still popular, no matter what the weather is outside. “People just love their ice cream.. Some people are coming just for a cone on negative temperature days,” she added.
In addition to the regular menus items, Dairy Queen offers ice cream cakes that are made-to-order.
“Our cake sales have been good as well.”
The main eating has a local touch with a sign saying welcome to the Killdeer Dairy Queen. “They are our customers and we like to call our customers our fans. They are the ones who support us and make us be successful,” she said.
With a background in business management course at schhol, Dennison said that when the opportunity came with the Dairy Queen in Bottineau, she took it. “It was a good offer and it was also a Co-Op owned Dairy Queen, so I kind of got my foot in the door there.”
When the Killdeer opening came up, she was ready.
“Since I was a little kid, I thought that I was going to live in Killdeer. We’d come camping out here every summer and I always told my dad that was were I was going to live when I grow up. So, I finally made it out here,” she added. “I love the small town feel of it and they’re the friendliest people.”
She admitted she is not planning on leaving anytime soon. “I plan on staying. I ready like the community.”
Although the drive-thru is not set up for semis, Dennison said it can handle big trucks. “It is truck country out here and we wanted to make sure that everybody could usually access it,” she said.
The Western Choice Co-op is the owner of the Killdeer Dairy Queen, she added.
The restaurant is open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.