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A farewell to Dairy Queens

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I read this and I have to say that it made me so sad.  In many of these small Texas towns the DQ is pretty much the only place to get a restaurant meal. They are woven into the social fabric of these small towns.  Often, when I'm driving around Texas looking for something to photograph, I'll stop in the DQ and talk to one of the old timers who's invariably sitting there drinking coffee and socializing, strike up a conversation, and the next thing you know I'm being told about, say, a bank vault door that Bonnie and Clyde walked through that is now in somebody's barn.  They don't call 'em Texas stop signs for nothin'! 

https://www.texasmonthly.com/food/farewell-to-dairy-queen/





 

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I used to know a gal who was a corporate type in charge of dozens if not hundreds of Texas DQ franchises.  Our families would vacation together, and she knew every DQ between Austin and the coast.  We always had to eat lunch or dinner at some random DQ on each leg of our trips.  I was always impressed how consistent the shops were, even when owned by local proprietors.  We had one in my small midwestern town when I was growing up and it was the same.  DQ was ALWAYS where you'd go with the team after Little League, etc.  It was just a given.

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I'll miss it solely based on nostalgia.  In the last couple of years I have been to 3 different Dairy Queens and the quality has been absolutely terrible and they've been dirty.  I will not be going back.  

I'll miss the Texas Stop Sign like I miss my youth. 

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My dad's first real job was working the fryer at the DQ in Eagle Pass.

I think he claims that he invented the onion ring or something.  My dad may be full of shit.

But I do like me some onion rings, so I give him a pass.

Also, the DQ in Crane, circa 1978, had the best damned biscuits and gravy (kinda off-menu item) I've ever had.

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All you need to know in these two passages:

Deep in the bankruptcy documents, in a subsequent filing, Vasari hinted at a more deep-rooted problem: while some of its stores were profitable, the company “as a whole [was] facing net operating losses that [could not] continue unabated.”  

In 2013, Vasari itself was acquired by Eagle Merchant Partners, an Atlanta private equity firm.

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I had a Country Basket at the Odem DQ yesterday.  Hits close to home and such.

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I left Texas in the late 70's and moved back in the early 90's and one of the first things I did was hit the local DQ and already then they had changed, imo. The food seemed much more pre-packaged than I remembered it ever being before, the place just had a fast food joint feel to it. I've tried a few since then and that experience hasn't varied much.

One of my uncles turned 97 last month and was still driving up until just a few years back. He cracked me up because there was a DQ within a mile of his house but he'd drive all the way across town to the one on LaSalle near the Baylor campus to sit and sip coffee because co-eds.

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Yep. Get venture capitalists involved and they only look at profits. I'm sure if those stores were owner operated they'd still be open. 

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6 minutes ago, Lat22 said:

I had a Country Basket at the Odem DQ yesterday.  Hits close to home and such.

I hit the Palacios and Tivoli ones most of the times I pass thru.  Also had a 4-piece #7 last week.  
 

Every single one I’ve been to in Houston is dirty and just shitty feeling.  They have built 2 new ones in last 3-4 years within 5 miles of the house. I haven’t been to either. 

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35 minutes ago, Post Oak said:

I'll miss it solely based on nostalgia.  In the last couple of years I have been to 3 different Dairy Queens and the quality has been absolutely terrible and they've been dirty.  I will not be going back.  

I'll miss the Texas Stop Sign like I miss my youth. 

Went to Galveston a few years ago and on our way back to OKC, the wife wanted to stop in Waco to see the fixer-upper shit. We hit up the nearby DQ for lunch and it was such a nasty place. The floors, the ceiling tiles, just gross. 

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My dad used to travel the roads of Texas as part of his job. He loved local hamburger places where you could watch the proprietor cook the patty and other parts of the meal. You could see how clean the place was, and each one had its own feel.

There was a shack at the four way stop where 1960 met I-45 north of Houston. I and a teammate used to go there to eat burgers before a game. It was owned by a local family whose name was on a few other businesses back then. Again, great and unlike any other burger place.

DQs were best for icecream back in the day. I gained a lot of weight having dip cones. Maybe, as they close, another local enterprising person will open a unique place in its stead. I'd prefer that.

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When I was a kid, we used to take our dogs to the park.  After that, we'd go through the DQ drive-thru and get dip cones for us kids, and a cup of soft serve for the dogs.  They loved that stuff.

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It's hard to beat an old school small town DQ where the grease hasn't been changed in 30 years and the walls/ceilings are tinted yellow from the days people could smoke inside. 

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Family tradition was to stop at a DQ on the way to the coast or on the way to Grandmas who lived pretty close to the coast.  Pretty damn good stuff if I remember. The last time I frequented them was back in the 80's.

We stopped into one back in 2014 with my family (on the way back from the coast) and it was pretty nasty.  I ate at one in Stockdale, TX about 2 years ago and it was really bad. 10 years ago I ate at two up in Minnesota and the food was OK-better than in Texas.  Up in Minnesota they still have some of the very old storefronts and signage.  I think they are from up there -originally.

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1 hour ago, Liquor and Poker said:

All you need to know in these two passages:

Deep in the bankruptcy documents, in a subsequent filing, Vasari hinted at a more deep-rooted problem: while some of its stores were profitable, the company “as a whole [was] facing net operating losses that [could not] continue unabated.”  

In 2013, Vasari itself was acquired by Eagle Merchant Partners, an Atlanta private equity firm.

Private equity is pretty evil.

But what's their play here?  Sell all the griddles, fryers and banquette seating?

The whole "greed is good" thing is when shit started going off the rails.

Edited by TwiceHorn

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7 minutes ago, TwiceHorn said:

Private equity is pretty evil.

But what's their play here?  Sell all the griddles, fryers and banquette seating?

The whole "greed is good" thing is when shit started going off the rails.

It all just became a game of musical chairs.

Acquire business with borrowed money, rearrange things, cut costs, do whatever to make the numbers look good....unload it for a nifty profit (repay loans, pocket kajillions)....new buyer does the same, etc. etc. until someone is left holding the asset when the music stops, and the reality of "but now this is a shitty business that consumers no longer patronize" hits.  And, bankruptcy.  Last guy left gets the shaft, everyone beforehand pockets cash earned based on a fantasy that everyone wants to believe in.

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28 minutes ago, DallasHorn26 said:

It's hard to beat an old school small town DQ where the grease hasn't been changed in 30 years and the walls/ceilings are tinted yellow from the days people could smoke inside. 

Oh, so you've been to the one in Rhome.

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Got a cone at the one in Junction last year. Very good and the place was clean.... even the restrooms.

A new DQ opened on 620 by our neighborhood two years ago. It hasn’t made my weight loss program any easier.

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I probably visit a DQ once every year or two, but I'll fight you for a steak finger basket with gravy and fries. 

Edited by StruggleBus

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I have actually seen a lot of new DQ’s around Texas in the last few years, compared to the previous 20 years where it seemed like they never expanded.  They have one of the best grilled cheeses on that Texas toast! 

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Growing up we used to hit the DQ, Griff's and Beefer's quite often. All were damn tasty but I agree with you all regarding the quality over the past several years going downhill. The DQ in Trinidad off 31 is terrible. 

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14 minutes ago, Brisketexan said:

It all just became a game of musical chairs.

Acquire business with borrowed money, rearrange things, cut costs, do whatever to make the numbers look good....unload it for a nifty profit (repay loans, pocket kajillions)....new buyer does the same, etc. etc. until someone is left holding the asset when the music stops, and the reality of "but now this is a shitty business that consumers no longer patronize" hits.  And, bankruptcy.  Last guy left gets the shaft, everyone beforehand pockets cash earned based on a fantasy that everyone wants to believe in.

You borrow to acquire, and pay your team/firm a fee for the acquisition with borrowed funds.  Then you take a regular management fee out of the company, which is essentially from borrowed funds.  Then you can do all kinds of things.  You can set up bogus targets for "improvements" such as cost reduction, and you make those independent of revenue so that even if the reduced "cost" is actually a net profit center (like closing a performing store), you get paid - or else you do things like individualize performance per store and borrow more against the profitable ones, again paying your team/firm a piece of the funds as a fee.  You can also gut the staff at all the stores and pay your team/firm a bonus from the short-term "improvement" in overall revenue, or drop the quality of the ingredients in the product to the same end, etc.  You don't care about the long term effects because, in the longer term,  when the losses and debt load get too high to sustain (meaning no one will lend any more money) you declare bankruptcy and walk away.  Or, if there are still a few performing stores within the structure, you consult with the debtors to sell those off individually to the "right" buyers - again for a fee, and sometimes to your related entity.

It's Goodfellas.

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9 minutes ago, Liquor and Poker said:

You borrow to acquire, and pay your team/firm a fee for the acquisition with borrowed funds.  Then you take a regular management fee out of the company, which is essentially from borrowed funds.  Then you can do all kinds of things.  You can set up bogus targets for "improvements" such as cost reduction, and you make those independent of revenue so that even if the reduced "cost" is actually a net profit center (like closing a performing store), you get paid - or else you do things like individualize performance per store and borrow more against the profitable ones, again paying your team/firm a piece of the funds as a fee.  You can also gut the staff at all the stores and pay your team/firm a bonus from the short-term "improvement" in overall revenue, or drop the quality of the ingredients in the product to the same end, etc.  You don't care about the long term effects because, in the longer term,  when the losses and debt load get too high to sustain (meaning no one will lend any more money) you declare bankruptcy and walk away.  Or, if there are still a few performing stores within the structure, you consult with the debtors to sell those off individually to the "right" buyers - again for a fee, and sometimes to your related entity.

It's Goodfellas.

Fuck you, pay me.

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24 minutes ago, StruggleBus said:

I probably visit a DQ once every year or two, but I'll fight you for a steak finger basket with gravy and fries. 

The steak finger basket is one of the things I found so disappointing. Anyone remember "Grandy's"? The "home cookin'" restaurant that served up fresh from the freezer crap? Very similar quality. Pfft.

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15 minutes ago, Liquor and Poker said:

You borrow to acquire, and pay your team/firm a fee for the acquisition with borrowed funds.  Then you take a regular management fee out of the company, which is essentially from borrowed funds.  Then you can do all kinds of things.  You can set up bogus targets for "improvements" such as cost reduction, and you make those independent of revenue so that even if the reduced "cost" is actually a net profit center (like closing a performing store), you get paid - or else you do things like individualize performance per store and borrow more against the profitable ones, again paying your team/firm a piece of the funds as a fee.  You can also gut the staff at all the stores and pay your team/firm a bonus from the short-term "improvement" in overall revenue, or drop the quality of the ingredients in the product to the same end, etc.  You don't care about the long term effects because, in the longer term,  when the losses and debt load get too high to sustain (meaning no one will lend any more money) you declare bankruptcy and walk away.  Or, if there are still a few performing stores within the structure, you consult with the debtors to sell those off individually to the "right" buyers - again for a fee, and sometimes to your related entity.

It's Goodfellas.

Yeah, that too.

I long ago worked a case where a guy orchestrated a leveraged buyout of a....not-fancy restaurant chain.  Said chain ended up paying him gobs of cash, and owned a corporate Ferrari and fancy apartment in NYC.

After a point, the lenders got somewhat upset with him.

I've seen a similar model on boondoggles built around government debt.  May have been a terrible idea and plan all the way around, but one thing's for sure -- the investment banker types were all gonna get PAID.  Later, when the entity would default on the debt, they don't care.  They got theirs.

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Every time I see a Dairy Queen it reminds me of "Texasville".

If I remember correctly their ice cream was the least healthy of any fast food chain.Of course that's what makes my dip cone so damn good.

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The Dairy Queen in my home town was a throwback to the early 60s, where rebellious utes would run off to hang out after arguments with dad. So I hear-- that's a little before my time.

It took some body blows from the opening of Hardees and McDonalds. Last time I went in was 1976 and some Dazed and Confused kid was smacking the pinball machine like he wanted to fight everybody in the place.

Then a couple years later, Popeye's opened up and stayed open until 3AM. DQ caved in and died. Stoners only have so much disposable income.

Like Stonehenge, it still sits there today. If anybody knows where to find some wobbly concrete tables, we could turn the key and I bet it would crank right up.

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My grandmother spent 20+ hrs a week the last 20+ years of her life drinking coffee and catching up on the latest Munday, Tx gossip at the DQ there.

The DQs we usually went to growing up (Munday, Holliday, Archer City,  WF) were all under the Richesons.  Just looked them up and appears they still have 67 locations across the state, didn't know they were so widespread. 

The Mayfields have the Austin area  locations and they seem to be doing well,  recently opening the one Brat referenced and now in Hutto.  That one on 620 had some really good food and service last time we went. 

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3 hours ago, Brisketexan said:

My dad's first real job was working the fryer at the DQ in Eagle Pass.

I think he claims that he invented the onion ring or something.  My dad may be full of shit.

But I do like me some onion rings, so I give him a pass.

Also, the DQ in Crane, circa 1978, had the best damned biscuits and gravy (kinda off-menu item) I've ever had.

 Pig Stands invented Onion Rings, along with drive-ins and carhops.  The last two date back to it's beginning in 1921(?).  I'm not sure about the onion rings, but I remember reading that they had them in the 20s. How old was your pops?

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1 hour ago, Brisketexan said:

Yeah, that too.

I long ago worked a case where a guy orchestrated a leveraged buyout of a....not-fancy restaurant chain.  Said chain ended up paying him gobs of cash, and owned a corporate Ferrari and fancy apartment in NYC.

After a point, the lenders got somewhat upset with him.

I've seen a similar model on boondoggles built around government debt.  May have been a terrible idea and plan all the way around, but one thing's for sure -- the investment banker types were all gonna get PAID.  Later, when the entity would default on the debt, they don't care.  They got theirs.

Yeah, I always forget about the fucking fees.  They should be ashamed.

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4 minutes ago, TwiceHorn said:

Yeah, I always forget about the fucking fees.  They should be ashamed.

It's open and shameless theft that skims billions off of the country's GDP and value, and not only are we not supposed to be mad, we're supposed to ADMIRE them for being such clever thieves.

Meanwhile, thousands of people lose their jobs when the whole deal crumbles a few years later.  But hey, the investment bankers got $150 million in fees at closing, so they don't even care when the news of the bankruptcy crosses the screen of the 10th TV in the workout room of their 5th home (this one's in Aspen).  And those people who just lost their jobs?  Well, they just should have worked harder.  And if they need some cash to get them through, maybe they should sell one of their pieces of art or something.

Edited by Brisketexan

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10 minutes ago, ImissWallyPryor said:

 Pig Stands invented Onion Rings, along with drive-ins and carhops.  The last two date back to it's beginning in 1921(?).  I'm not sure about the onion rings, but I remember reading that they had them in the 20s. How old was your pops?

Weirdly enough, Texas Dairy Queens got to be a separate outfit from the Minnesota or Illinois bunch.  And that provoked a load of trademark litigation in Texas from the 50s-80s approximately.  Some cases that still get cited.

And Pig Stands had a bunch of trademark litigation too.  Apparently a lot of knockoffs.  Most recently suing Hard Rock Cafe over the "pig sandwich"TM.

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6 minutes ago, TwiceHorn said:

Weirdly enough, Texas Dairy Queens got to be a separate outfit from the Minnesota or Illinois bunch.  And that provoked a load of trademark litigation in Texas from the 50s-80s approximately.  Some cases that still get cited.

And Pig Stands had a bunch of trademark litigation too.  Apparently a lot of knockoffs.  Most recently suing Hard Rock Cafe over the "pig sandwich"TM.

Texas franchise laws had a lot to do with why most Texas DQ's went to complete shit a long time ago (but also why a handful remained really good, relatively speaking).  Basically, individual stores didn't have to do a damn thing that corporate told them to do. This is why you could walk into a DQ in Houston and order Chinese food right alongside your Hunger Buster.  It's why quality of ingredients, cleanliness of locations, etc. was all over the map.  Perhaps most annoyingly, it's why the DQ in most small towns turned into a half hour wait for food.  No one gave a shit and there was no one to hold them accountable.  This did also allow some of the owners who actually cared to run their stores quite well (the guy who owns Wally's in Austin owns the DQ on Burnet Road (and maybe a couple of other locations).  He always ran his stores well.

Edited by Samson's Wig

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1 hour ago, Nolacycling said:

Every time I see a Dairy Queen it reminds me of "Texasville".

If I remember correctly their ice cream was the least healthy of any fast food chain.Of course that's what makes my dip cone so damn good.

Texasville reminds me of The Last Picture Show, which reminds me of Jacy Farrow.

And I too always thought and still think their ice cream is delicious.  

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1 hour ago, 6th Street said:

That article is dated April 2018

There was a thread on this back then.  If it was based on this same article, it was here rather than TOS.

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I posted this article twice on my Traces of Texas Facebook page. Believe it or not,  the two posts reached nearly 2 million people. One of them was the CEO of Dairy Queen operations in Texas, who sent me this response:

We noticed that your Traces of Texas Facebook page has recently shared an old Texas Monthly article from April 2018 multiple times in the last week.  As CEO of the Texas Dairy Queen Operators' Council, I wanted to take the opportunity to provide you our response and speak to the health of Dairy Queen across the state of Texas.  We would love a heads up if you plan on posting anything else regarding the matter, and please reach out if you have any questions on the topic.

DQ is proud to be a strong, vibrant staple of Texas culture since 1947.  Our 608 (and growing) locations in communities across this great state are locally owned and operated and employ over 9,000 people.

Dairy Queen owners and operators in Texas include multi-generational families – parents, grandparents, even great-grandparents – who have worked hard and sacrificed to build what Texas Dairy Queen represents in this state.  These are the same proud, honorable families who have been growing their successful Dairy Queen empires since 1947.  Several generations currently have ownership entities which have been passed down and expanded to include more of the restaurants they are developing even at this writing.  Texas Dairy Queen’s operator community built over 53 new locations in the past five years and continues to open new locations this year.

Texas Dairy Queen has re-introduced its iconic “That’s What I Like About Texas” tagline as we continue to be an important part of the fabric of Texas’ local communities and heritage.   We know the world of QSR dining continues to change.  Our plans, both in and out of the kitchen, are designed to play back the message that are we satisfying both our long-time loyal customers and yet more generations to come. 

As Texas Dairy Queen owners, we uphold the high standards of upkeep and health standards required by our franchisor as we take pride in both our community images and our dedication to quality treats and eats.

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27 minutes ago, TwiceHorn said:

Weirdly enough, Texas Dairy Queens got to be a separate outfit from the Minnesota or Illinois bunch.  And that provoked a load of trademark litigation in Texas from the 50s-80s approximately.  Some cases that still get cited.

And Pig Stands had a bunch of trademark litigation too.  Apparently a lot of knockoffs.  Most recently suing Hard Rock Cafe over the "pig sandwich"TM.

Pig Stands was also the first chain to have a common architectural design at all locations, not that it matters.  I went to the one on Broadway in SA a bunch of times in the late 70s.  I read that it is/was the last location operating.

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The DQ on Burnet is good and run well. I tried to eat at the one in Alpine a few years ago. It was dogshit, I threw it away after a couple of bites. At least I didn't get food poisoning

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Actually from wiki, it looks like Vasari was one of a number of DQ operators   The article above was primarily focused on Vasari 

 

from wiki

 

Quote

In the nineties, investors bought Dairy Queen stores that were individually owned, intending to increase profitability through economies of scale. Vasari, LLC became the second-largest Dairy Queen operator in the country, and operated 70 Dairy Queens across Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. When stores were not profitable these investment firms closed stores that did not meet their profitability goals. On October 30, 2017, the Vasari LLC filed for bankruptcy and announced it was closing 29 stores including 10 in the Texas Panhandle.[15]

International Dairy Queen, Inc. (IDQ) is the parent company of Dairy Queen. In the United States, it operates under American Dairy Queen Corp.[16][17]

IDQ is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway as well 

Edited by EuroHorn

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4 minutes ago, utee94 said:

Who needs DQ when we've got...

  1. o.jpg

Do they put that little Q on the top of their ice cream cones? I didn't think so.

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5 hours ago, jimmyjazz said:

I used to know a gal who was a corporate type in charge of dozens if not hundreds of Texas DQ franchises.  Our families would vacation together, and she knew every DQ between Austin and the coast.  We always had to eat lunch or dinner at some random DQ on each leg of our trips.  I was always impressed how consistent the shops were, even when owned by local proprietors.  We had one in my small midwestern town when I was growing up and it was the same.  DQ was ALWAYS where you'd go with the team after Little League, etc.  It was just a given.

When I was growing up DQ's were very consistent, in that every damn one of them had a filthy bathroom.

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5 hours ago, fattyflattie said:

I hit the Palacios and Tivoli ones most of the times I pass thru.  Also had a 4-piece #7 last week.  
 

Every single one I’ve been to in Houston is dirty and just shitty feeling.  They have built 2 new ones in last 3-4 years within 5 miles of the house. I haven’t been to either. 

We travel the same roads.  Alvin's is clean and good FYI.

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I know the family that owns many of the central Texas DQs. They didn’t sell to PE. They are not going bankrupt. 

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