After 65 years, the Dairy Queen on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul is no longer putting that signature soft-serve swirl on ice cream cones or dipping Dilly Bars behind the counter.
Owner Carol Noyes, whose father started the franchise business in 1952 a block down the street from Selby Avenue, announced over the weekend that it has locked up shop for good, a few months after her husband and business partner died in March after a long illness. The shop had closed last October for the season and never reopened.
“We have developed many friendships and loyal customers over the years, and we will miss you,” Noyes wrote in a Facebook announcement Saturday. “My husband ... loved to head outside to the picnic tables to talk to many of you.”
Carol Noyes’ father, Boots Rosenthal, opened the seasonal walk-up Dairy Queen, and Carol and Bruce Noyes took over in 1979 when Boots died.
Thursday morning, the 70-year-old Noyes was meeting with others and removing equipment from the shuttered walk-up DQ, which has evolved from a wood-dominated facade topped by a giant sign of a leaning vanilla cone to the modern exterior now found from coast to coast.
“It’s hard, it’s really hard,” Noyes said of seeing the end of a business where she and her siblings worked, as did her five children at one time or another.
Dean Peters, spokesman for Edina-based Dairy Queen, said that “multigenerational owners are and have been extremely important to the DQ system. They are truly the backbone of Dairy Queen.”
Noyes said that a liquidation sale is scheduled for Friday, but there is one piece of equipment staying with her: the machine for dipping Dilly Bars, the round ice cream on a stick bathed in variously flavored coatings.
“One thing I had to get out was the Dilly dipper because that was Bruce’s thing,” Noyes said. “He had to make his own [on-site] and not sell them pre-made. A lot of people came for those.”
Former employees and longtime customers have “been really sad” since the closing was announced, she said.
“We’ve just had the greatest employees all through the years, wonderful teenagers,” Noyes said. “My husband was strict with them on how to do business and how to treat a customer.”
Among the Facebook commenters on the closing announcement was a former employee who wrote that the Noyeses were “the Gold Standard by which I judge all other bosses. You guys molded and shaped so many of us.”
The property has a sale pending, Noyes said, and she anticipates that the would-be owner will develop the site into something far different from what it has been to her family for many decades.
“We had so much fun with it,” she said. “When your father owns a Dairy Queen, you are very popular, especially at school and on birthdays.
“It was a fun business.”