Work Begins on New Dairy Queen that Caters to Changing Tastes

BOARDMAN, Ohio – Ground was broken Wednesday for a Dairy Queen that will feature a two-lane drive-thru, food menu and spacious indoor seating. 

The $1.8 million restaurant will be built at 6532 Market St., just three blocks south of the existing DQ that it will replace. Ray and Chrissy Smith of Canfield own both sites. They will close the current store when the new one opens in the fall.

Built in 1955 at 6120 Market St., the current location only sells ice cream products, and does not have a dining room or drive-thru.

As a DQ Grill & Chill, the new store’s menu will include ice cream plus burgers, chicken and french fries. It will be one of about 20 or so nationwide built to the chain’s latest floor plan, said Smith. 

J. Herbert Construction of Salem is the contractor for the 3,231 square-foot structure.

The site, currently an empty lot, has an inadequate storm storage system that will be improved, Smith said. An underground water retention system will be installed to reduce runoff and alleviate flooding issues for nearby residents.

“It’s a great location,” Chrissy Smith said. “We are not leaving the community that has grown to love the nostalgia of the current location.”

The new site’s location across the street from Akron Children’s Hospital is also a positive, she said, because families and children are the target market of DQ. The hospital has also been the Smiths’ preferred charitable organization for years.

“We feel that its proximity [to the hospital] and the addition of the drive-thru should help us to help them when we host events such as Miracle Treat Day, which benefits Akron Children’s Hospital,” she said.

The Smiths also own DQ locations in Cornersburg, Austintown, Canfield and Columbiana.

Changing consumer habits made building a new Boardman store a necessity.

“It’s not just the fact that the current building could use some updating,” said Ray Smith. “The pandemic has made it clear that drive-thrus, along with modern amenities such as mobile ordering, curbside pick-up, delivery partners, and contactless payment are not just what our [customers] want, it’s what they need.”

Drive-thrus are the future of the restaurant industry, Chrissy Smith added, because customers want to limit interaction. 

The Smiths have not yet decided what they will do with the old site once the new one opens, but it has already garnered interest from potential buyers, she said.

The couple has owned DQ franchises for 30 years and is pleased with the chain.

“They say DQ does well in hard times, and we are having hard times,” she said. “We saw a boost. Our lines were extremely long at the drive-thru locations, although our stores without drive-thrus were hard-hit [during the height of the pandemic] because people didn’t want to come inside.”

Of the Smiths’ five stores, the only other one that is a DQ Grill & Chill is the Columbiana location. But a third one might be in the works, she said.

The Smiths purchased the former Perkins Restaurant building on U.S. Route 224 in Canfield in May. They are considering moving their current DQ store on The Green to the site and making it a Grill & Chill.

Pictured: On hand for the groundbreaking were Mike Zembower, international Dairy Queen business consultant, Boardman Dairy Queen co-owners Ray and Chrissy Smith, and Grant Mingus, vice president of operations for J. Herbert Construction Co. Inc.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.