Saturday, July 25, 2015

Rogue Dairy Queen - Moorhead MN from Star Tribune

The Dairy Queen restaurant in downtown Moorhead, Minn., opened in 1949.

(Original:  Star Tribune 7/23/15 - By  Associated Press )

MOORHEAD, Minn. — The Dairy Queen in downtown Moorhead has been thumbing its nose at corporate HQ pretty much since it opened in 1949, despite some efforts from the home office to have the store mind its Ds and Qs.
And it's a recipe that seems to be working for one of the few DQs in the country still operating under a 66-year-old contract that allows them to dish up throwback treats alongside the standard corporate-approved items, a combination that turns Main Avenue and 8th Street into a hopping, slightly retro summer hangout.
Though the restaurant shuts down in the winter and unlike newer shops has no indoor seating and no drive-thru, customers gladly line up on the sidewalk for frosty treats no matter what the weather. Two years ago at least 1,200 people showed up on opening day, March 1.
The temperature was 11-below.
Why do they do it? Tradition, generous portions, reasonable prices and treats you just can't get at most other shops help. And in an era of corporate ubiquity, it's a subtle reminder that sometimes different can be delicious.
"They don't even need an inside place to eat like they have in Fargo," Mikula said. "They are good to their customers. They are so generous with their product. They don't skimp on what they put in your treats."  While newer contracts stipulate adherence to strict corporate guidelines, messaging and menus, the Moorhead shop still operates mostly under the terms of a contract signed in 1949. And that allows owners Troy and Diane DeLeon the freedom to dish out what might be considered rogue menu items.
There's the Mr. Maltie, a chocolate malt on the stick; the Monkey Tail, a chocolate-covered frozen banana; and of course the Chipper Sandwich, which is vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies and dipped in chocolate.
The DeLeons also offer unique toppings, some of which have been discontinued by headquarters, as well as non-corporate approved food items, including barbecue sandwiches and Polish sausages. And the ice cream cakes? Let the other shops take HQ's premade cakes; Troy DeLeon assembles his himself.
DeLeon has said that corporate would like for his store to melt away, which drew a chuckle and a "no comment" from company spokesman Dean Peters. The Minneapolis-based chain — which launched in 1940 — values all of its more than 6,500 locations, Peters said, and it "understands and appreciates" the heritage and popularity of the downtown Moorhead Dairy Queen.
However, Peters said the company cannot promote the store "as a brand and a system," and added that most DQ lovers are looking for uniformity and the indoor dining experience provided by the company's newer DQ Grill and Chill restaurants.
"That's what our fans are telling us they want and that's what we are trying to provide them with," Peters said.
Mind you, the Moorhead store still plays the corporate game. To a degree. The lineup of typical DQ treats is featured on the window. But nearby is a "Local Menu" sign that includes a Nathan's-brand hot dog for $1.50, a bowl of chili for $2, a large Polish sausage for $2.75 and the super chili cheese dog for $4. Another poster promotes a "Curly Shake," which is advertised as a shake with a sundae on top, for  $3.25 $3.25.
Peters said a small percentage of Dairy Queen stores around the country have contracts dating back to the 1940s. He said those contracts allow for "very limited" products to be sold that are not available at most locations.
Customers at the DeLeons' restaurant are welcome, if not encouraged, to order treats just the way they like them. For example, Moorhead Mayor Del Rae Williams said her son likes the Crunch Blizzard, but substituted with chocolate ice cream.
"We'll do whatever. It doesn't take any longer," DeLeon said.
Said Williams, "People feel like it tastes differently and they give better service. Where else would you mind standing in line? It has become an experience in our community. It's very personalized and people know it."
DeLeon said he has been encouraged by corporate lawyers to enter into a new contract, but there "aren't enough zeroes" that could convince him to dump the flavors and feelings customers like Diann and Leroy Mikula have enjoyed for decades.
"They come here almost every day, like a lot of customers," Troy DeLeon said. "We want people to take a step back in time and experience something they don't get a chance to experience very often."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Minnesota's Oldest Dairy Queen to be Demolished?

Mike on his birthday enjoying a DQ and MN's oldest DQ

It seems that the owner of Minnesota's oldest DQ thinks he needs more space than this DQ can handle. Don't change a thing? Has an "improvement" to an iconic structure ever improved the structure?

See the City Pages article.

I hate to say it, but if the owner can't keep up the demand for cones in this prime location, maybe he should consider raising his prices. With a small cone at $1.40 (last time I checked) there is some room for an increase in the prices before being priced out of the market.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The 2009 Best Dairy Queen in the Twin Cities - White Bear Lake

With Cup-n-Cone just down the road keeping prices down, it is no wonder that White Bear Lake DQ remains the lowest priced Dairy Queen in the Mpls / St. Paul metro area.

The Blaine DQ raised its prices considerably and now White Bear Lake DQ has bumped them the the best in the Twin Cities slot (At least when it comes to prices).
Small Cone: $1.09
Med Cone: $1.59
Large Cone: $1.99
Peanut Buster Parfait: $3.79
Aggregate Cost: $8.46!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Personally, I would much rather go to Cup-n-Cone. They have not raised their prices either and it is located in the center of town in a little park-like area. WBL DQ is located behind a fertilizer plant on Hwy 61--not much appeal for the destination DQ.

Anyway, that's not what this blog is about. If you want to know the lowest price DQ in the Twin Cities metro area right now it is in White Bear Lake.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Blaine DQ - Hwy 65 - Raises its Prices. Is it still the least expensive in the Twin Cities?

Dairy Queen - Hwy 65 - Blaine

Last year's winner for the least expensive/highest quality Dairy Queen in the Twin Cities might no longer be the best value anymore. The reason--an increase in prices across the board.

Small Cone: $1.39 ($1.19 last year)
Medium Cone: $1.79 ($1.49 last year)
Large Cone: $2.29 ($1.99 last year)

Blaine has just fallen into the slightly better than average camp. I'll have to check out White Bear Lake, last year's runner up, to see if a similar price increase has taken place.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Best DQ in the Twin Cities (Mpls/St. Paul area)

And the Best (least expensive) DQ in the Twin Cities is...

Blaine (Hwy 65, north of Hwy 10)
Total cost for a sm+med+large cone + Peanut Buster Parfait= $8.06
Average price after reviewing 27 Dairy Queens is $9.48. ($1.42 cheaper than average)

--Runners up: Rice at Arlington ($8.26), 37th St and 13th Ave S in Mpls ($8.36)

Cheapest Small Cone...

White Bear Lake (Hwy 61 north of 694)
Cost: $1.09
Average cost: $1.52 ($.43 cheaper than average)

--Runners up: Blaine ($1.19), 37th St and 13th Ave S ($1.29), Rice at Arlington, Rice at Phalen, New Brighton, Hwy 88 in New Brighton, W. 7th St in St. Paul (all at $1.39)

--Most Expensive: Robbinsdale ($1.89), Edina/Hwy 100 Grill and Chill ($1.79)

Cheapest Medium Cone...

Cost: $1.49
Average cost: $1.90 (About $.51 cheaper than average)

--Runners up: White Bear Lake ($1.59), Rice St at Arlington ($1.59),New Brighton ($1.69)

--Most Expensive: Robbinsdale ($2.29), Crystal Grill and Chill , Edina Grill and Chill, EP by Dunn Bros, Highland Park(all $2.19) , Snelling, Lakeville, Lake Josephine (all $2,09)

Cheapest Large Cone...

Lake Street and 44th Ave (Close to the St. Paul border)
Cost: 1.88
7th St and 13th Ave S (South Minneapolis)
Cost: $1.89
Average cost: $2.24 (About $.35 cheaper than average)

--Runners up: All at $1.99-- W 7th St in St. Paul, Blaine, White Bear Lake, Rice at Artlington, Rice at Phalen, New Brighton, Lowry Ave in NE Mpls.

--Most Expensive: Crystal Grill and Chill and Edina/Hwy100 ($2.69), Highland Park, EP by Dunn Bros ($2.59)

Cheapest Peanut Buster Parfait...

Rice Street at Arlington
Cost: $3.29
Lake Street at 44th Ave
Cost: $3.31
Average cost: $3.80 (about $.50 less expensive than average)

--Runners up: Blaine ($3.39), 37th Ave and 13th St ($3.49), Minnehaha ($3.59)

--Most Expensive: Crystal Grill and Chill, EP by Dunn Bros, Highland Park ($4.19), Robbinsdale, Lake Josephine ($4.09)

Most Expensive Dairy Queen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Robbinsdale-- &-- Crystal Grill and Chill
$10.76 for a sm+med+large cone+PBP
Average cost: $9.48 ($1.28 over average)

--Runners up: Eden Prairie by the Dunn Bros ($10.66), Edina Hwy 100 Grill and Chill ($10.46), Lake Josephine ($10.36), Snelling ($10.16)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lexington and University DQ - 2nd Chance!

University and Lexington --Revisited

As I mentioned the first time I reviewed this Lexington Ave Dairy Queen, it was one of my favorites.  I liked the owner who knew that on special occasions that I switched to the Chocolate Dip Cone.  We'd chat when times were slow.  It was a pleasant association.

I also predicted that the owner must have sold the place since the teenagers who were running the place were completely unfit for customer service.  Tonight, I went back to see if perhaps folks were having an off day.

I was encouraged to find that the owner that I knew from years ago was working the window.  Could it be that things were just like they were in the good ol' days?  

No!  These are not the good ol' days.  The owner gave me a floppy, over-marshmellowy, wussy cone.  I almost said to her, "Are you serious? What happened to you?"

I swear I saw that she recognized me from before and her expression seemed one of apology.  Apology accepted and I hope you can turn things around.

On the plus side, Pumpkin Blizzards!  I will try one before the month is out.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Rice Street -2 stores - By Phalen and by Arlington

Sorry about the lack of identifiers for this post, but it was kind of a drive by experience. My friend, Greg Page, said there were a couple DQs on Rice Street, that might be worth a look.  

The one closest to the Capital on Rice St, just south of Arlington is a cute little walk-up DQ.  Cute except for the packing tape over the cracks in the front window.  Not really the nicest DQ in the system, but it is the one closest to the Capital!  This must be where the Governor goes for his DQ.  I bet I know which White Castle he goes to as well.

Small cone - $1.39
Medium - $1.59
Large - $1.99
Peanut Buster Parfait - $3.29

The cone was overfluffed and had none of the awesome DQ consistency.  I ate it quickly in my car, disappointed, but not unexpectedly so--they didn't really take care of their DQ.  Points off for not respecting themselves.

I kept driving north on Rice St to the Phalen neighborhood.  This DQ was decked out with a nice drive thru, but I don't think it was a Grill and Chill.  Prices were slightly higher:

Small Cone - $1.39
Medium - $1.79...higher
Large - $1.99
Peanut Buster Parfait - $3.69...higher.

I don't know what their cones are like.  I just had one 4 minutes earlier and I was on my way to dinner in an hour or so. So they missed out.  I bet it would have been awesome.  They took much better care of their store.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Edina--An Unexpected Deal?

There is a Dairy Queen by the DQ headquarters in Edina, MN (77th and Hwy 100).  I'm usually not a big fan of this store since it is a training store and service is inconsistent.  My coworkers go there for breakfast, which I also think is weird, but their bacon and eggs look pretty good.

I went there twice this week.  I haven't been trying new DQs and had some withdrawal symptoms (crabbiness, weight loss), and needed my some soft serve.

On Monday there was a bit of a mix up with whether or not my medium cone was "for here or to go."  Since they were not going to put it in a bag, I didn't think there was any difference in my options. Anyway, blah, blah, blah--I get a large cone instead of a medium.  Saw-weeet!  

I figured this was because the trainee was giving me a hard time and the manager wanted to make things cool.  It worked.

Wednesday, still symptomatic, I stop by again, this time just for a small cone.  The same manager gives me a medium?  I know because I was watching which  cone dispenser she pulled from.

Is this a gem of a find, does someone there think I'm too cute to get only what I paid for, or does someone know I blog about my DQ experiences for the world.  I'm okay with any of these options.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blaine DQ - sm cone still $1.19, still awesome

I went back to the DQ in Blaine on Hwy 65 this week.  They have the lowest prices of the DQs I have reviewed so far and I am going back frequently to see if they are still awesome.

They are.  Excellent cone.  Excellent service.  Excellent price.

But don't get a hot dog there.  They microwave the dog after you order it and microwave it pre-mustarded and pre-bunned.  That negates the reason why you have a bun in the first place--to be able to hold onto to something that is hot.

I suggest sticking with Frankie's on Broadway Ave in NE Mpls for your hot dog needs.  Or Super America.  I've had a good dog or two there as well.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lake Josephine DQ - Lexington Ave $1.69 sm cone

The Dairy Queen on Lexington Ave across from Lake Josephine in Roseville is a destination DQ, like the DQ by Minnehaha Falls in Mpls.  You go there because it's right by where you are at anyways.

It's probably good that it is right across from this beautiful lake, because this DQ was not very good on this particular night.  I was not there because of the beach.  

I went there at about dusk, and it is only about 50 degrees, but there were other people at the beach this night.  There was a young couple walking and holding hands, and there was a pedophilish looking overweight adult on the swings, killing time.  There was even a few people fishing off the dock.

This DQ has a drive thru and an enormous parking lot and quite a bit of outdoor seating.  Nice place.

The boy who took my order seemed a bit rushed.  He tossed together a small, mis-shaped, over-marshmellowy mess of a small cone and practically dashed away to do something I couldn't see.  My guess is that it was an off day on many counts and that a visit this weekend would give me a perfectly normal cone.  But this is my blog and they only get one shot since they won't be in the running for best DQ.  

The prices break down like this:
Small Vanilla Cone: $1.69
Medium: $2.09
Large: $2.49
Peanut Buster Parfait: $4.09

Overall, prices are above average.  The aggregate cost for one each is over $10.00--less than 30% of the stores reviewed so far cost more than $10.00 for one each of the review items.

Just to compare: Blaine (Hwy 65) charges only $8.05 for three cones and a PBP.  Lake Josephine DQ charges $10.36.  

Shop wisely, and avoid panic buying.