When the news broke that Dairy Queen would be closing its iconic Dairy Queen Drive restaurant in Chicago, it was one of the hardest-hit restaurant brands in America.
“It’s not just a loss to Chicago, we lost our brand, it’s a loss for all of the businesses that are involved with this brand,” says Dave, owner of The Dairy Queen Cafe in Chicago.
“Our staff, we’ve lost our jobs, our families have lost their jobs, but most importantly to the entire Dairy Queen community, we’re not here to replace the brand, we’ll be able to bring our customers back.”
But, as Dave’s wife Wendy explains, the loss was more than just financial.
“We had to lose our family, we had to take our children away from their homes,” she says.
“And we lost the support that we needed in the community, which is really important.”
Image copyright ABC/YouTube Dave and Wendy are also losing their son, Nathan, who has autism.
“The first couple of months after he was born we were worried, we were in the middle of the night and we just didn’t know where to turn,” Wendy explains.
“The day he was a baby, he didn’t even speak, he just went in a ball and was just there, just there.”
The family’s first meeting with Dairy Queen came just weeks after the company’s announcement.
“It’s been a whirlwind and we haven’t had a chance to talk about it yet,” Dave says.
“But we’ve known it’s coming and it’s going to be a tough one to handle.”
He’s not alone.
“The Dairy Queens is a great company and it will always be there for us, but at the same time we can’t replace the people who are here, we can only replace the businesses and we have to have that,” Wendy says.
But the real question is, will the move be good for the company?
“The sad part of it is that we’re going to lose a lot of people,” Dave adds.
“The business is going to change.
But I don’t think we’re the one who has to replace that.”
Dave is hoping the new owners of Dairy Queen can find a way to bring back customers.
But it may take more than that.
Dairy Queen is the second restaurant chain to announce it will be closing in the US, following McDonald’s.
The chain has also confirmed it will shut its restaurant in Melbourne next year, in the same area.
And while the new move may not be a huge deal to Chicagoans, it could be to other food-focused cities in the country.
According to an ABC report, McDonald’s is closing more than 2,000 restaurants in the state, and a spokesperson for the chain told the ABC that it will also be closing some of its restaurants in New York City.
The company has also shut its restaurants outside of the US in France, South Korea and Australia, as well as opening a new restaurant in New Zealand.
Dairy Queens’ demise will be felt far beyond Chicago, as the restaurant chain has closed restaurants in other states and cities across the US.
“I don’t know if the closure of the company is a good thing for Chicago,” Wendy tells me.
“There’s going, I don´t know what’s going on, but it’s definitely a loss.”
Dave and Wendy say they don’t expect to see any immediate changes to the restaurant in their Chicago home.
“Hopefully we can be here for a long time and hopefully this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Dave agrees.”But I donít know.”
If you want to find out more about Dairy Queen, you can read more on ABC.com/watch.
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