Big Rapids Dairy Queen changes name

DISENFRANCHISED: Workers lower the DQ sign from the Dairy Queen on State Street. The restaurant will reopen in February 2016 as State Street Scoops with an expanded menu. (Pioneer photo/Adam Gac)

DISENFRANCHISED: Workers lower the DQ sign from the Dairy Queen on State Street. The restaurant will reopen in February 2016 as State Street Scoops with an expanded menu. (Pioneer photo/Adam Gac)

BIG RAPIDS  — After 67 years, State Street no longer has a Dairy Queen.

The sign for the franchise was removed Wednesday in preparation for the end of operations in 2015 on Friday. The shuttering of walk-up ice cream shops in preparation for winter is no new phenomenon, but the Dairy Queen will not reopen in 2016.

Instead, the building at the corner of Pine and State streets will reopen in February 2016 under a new name: State Street Scoops. But the name of the business isn’t the only thing that’s changing.

“We’re going to be serving soft-serve ice cream like we are now,” said owner Joe Mendenhall. “We’ll also be adding Hudsonville hard ice cream.”

The fast food and dessert corporation previously allowed franchisees to carry hard ice cream in addition to a selection of soft-serve, but that policy was later changed, Mendenhall said.

“A lot of people like hard ice cream,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll see a whole new group of customers now that we will have both kinds of ice cream.”

The ice cream menu isn’t the only change to come as a result of the switch from Dairy Queen to State Street Scoops.

Years ago, before Dairy Queen’s menu included food, owners were allowed to incorporate their own bill of fare. The Dairy Queen on State Street previously featured barbecue chicken sandwiches, but when Mendenhall took over the restaurant 19 years ago, pressure from corporate headquarters prevented any further barbecue sales, he said.

“It got to be too much pressure, so I had to quit making the chicken,” Mendenhall said.

Mendenhall kept the recipe for the barbecue chicken passed to him by the previous owner. When the restaurant opens under its new name in February 2016, the sandwiches will make their comeback, he said.

“A lot of people have continued to ask for the barbecue,” he said. “We’re getting real excited about it.”

Venturing away from the Dairy Queen menu won’t mean the loss of any treats customers have come to expect. The State Street operation will continue to offer ice cream cakes as well as candy blended with soft serve, Mendenhall said.

“We’re going to call them twisters,” he said.

Mendenhall is excited for the change and says there is no ill-will between him and the Dairy Queen organization.

“Dairy Queen wants to grow – we’ve outgrown the building,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave it. I’d probably do much better if I had a drive through, but at my age I figure why not stay where we’re at.”

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Posted by Adam Gac

Adam is the Pioneer City/County Reporter, covering government in Mecosta County. He can be reached by e-mail at agac@pioneergroup.com or by phone at (231) 592-8347.

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