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Dairy Queen cracking Manhattan market this spring with 2-story design

  • Article by: Paul Walsh
  • Star Tribune
  • March 27, 2014 - 9:25 AM

Dairy Queen intends to take a giant step into Manhattan, with an out-of-the-ordinary multistory restaurant tentatively scheduled to open in late May.

The two-story, 2,500 square-foot Manhattan DQ Grill & Chill will seat more than 100 at 54 W. 14th St., between 5th and 6th Avenues, the company announced Tuesday.

If it can make it there, American Dairy Queen Corp. intends to “aggressively expand in Manhattan” in the future, the Edina-based company’s announcement read.

The New York City Dairy Queen is taking over space in midblock, where a Fabco Shoes store had gone out of business, said DQ spokesman Dean Peters. Since it will share walls with neighboring storefronts, it cannot offer drive-through service, Peters added.

Dairy Queen has never cracked Manhattan in its 74-year history because of the expense of doing business there and other factors, such as “finding the right franchisee and obviously, location, as well,” Peters said. “It’s important to get all three of those correct.”

Last year, two DQ Grill & Chill locations were opened just outside Manhattan, one in Massapequa on Long Island and the other in the Staten Island terminal of the Staten Island Ferry.

The Manhattan DQ, a few strides off the Avenue of the Americas and near Greenwich Village, will employ more than 50 people and have seating for 60 downstairs and 50 upstairs. While located in the city that never sleeps, this business will lock its doors at 11 p.m.

DQ has more than 6,400 restaurants in 27 countries, with the two-level dining design an extreme rarity. When a Dairy Queen opened in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 2011, it was touted as the first multilevel location for the company, which is a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

However, New Ulm, Minn., has had a two-story DQ since the late 1990s, when apartment space above the barn-style structure was converted for seating, said owner Shelly Winter.

Winter said she was unaware that her place has something in common with the future New York City franchise. She said the upper level is a favorite among her younger customers as a place to hang out. “It can get a little loud up there,” she said.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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