There’s been numerous discuss concerning the chilly climate on the House Coast this winter, however on Merritt Island, Blizzards, and a forecast of their disappearance, are the new subject.
Mike and Deb Gentile, the house owners of Dairy Queen on Merritt Island, informed their employees Monday evening that they might be closing the restaurant on Feb. 5, bringing an finish to nearly six a long time of cool treats and joyful recollections.
The fast-food franchise, which acquired its begin in Joliet, Illinois, in 1940, opened at 265 N. Courtenay Parkway, Merritt Island, in 1965. The Gentiles purchased it in 1994.
“The final 28 years has had its share of ups and downs,” the couple said in a seen posted on one of many walk-up home windows Tuesday, “however with every passing 12 months, Dairy Queen Company places an increasing number of unrealistic calls for on us, main us down a path that we’d not have chosen.”
It did not take lengthy for the information to hit social media, garnering lots of of feedback and shares, and drawing ice cream-loving crowds at a time of 12 months when enterprise often slows down.
“I by no means dreamed that this could occur,” Deb Gentile stated Friday afternoon. The restaurant had been open lower than half-hour and already automobiles circled the car parking zone and most of the tables out entrance have been full. A tv reporter was filming from the lot subsequent door.
“Simply the love and the help from the neighborhood, it means a lot,” she stated. “I get emotional speaking about it.”
They hadn’t deliberate to shut, Gentile stated, however for the previous 10 years, company mandates have elevated. To maintain their franchise settlement, she stated, they’ve needed to meet necessities comparable to changing costly tools that they stated nonetheless was in good working order. Till now, they’ve complied.
However the newest directive, she stated, was to put in an digital system for taking orders and fee that might be suitable with good cellphone apps and meals supply companies. Whereas that form of system would possibly work at among the bigger Dairy Queen eating places and the model’s DQ Grill & Chill shops with a heavier deal with meals, it does not match with what the Gentiles wish to be: a neighborhood ice cream store.
The Merritt Island Dairy Queen has drive-thru and walk-up service solely, and it solely accepts money.
They did not wish to lose the face-to-face connection they now have with their prospects.
“An enormous a part of it for my husband and I each is the relationships,” Gentile stated.
As for the longer term, the couple owns the constructing, they usually don’t have any plans to promote. They’ve a one-year non-compete settlement with Dairy Queen.
“We’re not going to rule something out,” she stated. “We’re not able to retire from this, and once we do retire, I would really like it to be our resolution and never one thing we’re compelled into.”
Karen and Michael Aument and three of their grandsons have been among the many first on the walk-up window Friday. They’ve lived on Merritt Island for 23 years and have been loyal Dairy Queen prospects, with their kids and now grandchildren. They have been treating three of their grandsons to cones and sundaes.
“I am so unhappy,” Karen Aument stated. “We have had our oldest grandchild in a automobile seat on one in every of these tables.”
The restaurant holds a few years and lots of recollections for the household, she stated.
“The neighborhood is dropping a superb enterprise, a enterprise that is pleasant to the neighborhood,” Michael Aument stated.
Deb Gentile stated she’s misplaced rely of what number of native highschool college students who’ve labored at Dairy Queen prior to now 28 years. It has been properly over 100.
Hayley Nelipowitz is one in every of them. She began at Dairy Queen six years in the past as a Merritt Island Excessive College scholar. Now 23, she graduated from Florida State in December and is engaged on her medical assistant license. In the meantime, she’s making soft-serve cones and Blizards.
Like Gentile, she stated the relationships she’s made, with co-workers and prospects, have stored her on the ice cream counter. The Gentiles have grow to be like household.
“Simply working for Mike and Deb, that is what’s made it so particular working right here,” she stated. “They’ve became extra than simply my bosses.”
Whereas they deal with their staff like household, a few of their staff are household. When the Gentiles purchased the enterprise, Mike, a plumber by commerce, was in search of a change.
Over time, their son and daughter labored on the restaurant. Now their 15-year-old grandson does.
“It is undoubtedly a loss, as a result of it has been such a giant a part of our life,” she stated. “However I am additionally excited to see what God’s going to do.”
Dairy Queen’s media relations division didn’t reply to an electronic mail despatched Friday afternoon. The corporate relies in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Dairy Queen model consists of greater than 7,000 eating places in america, Canada and greater than 20 different international locations. Worldwide Dairy Queen Inc. is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which is led by Warren Buffet.
Suzy Fleming Leonard is a options journalist with greater than three a long time of expertise. Attain her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Discover on Fb: @SuzyFlemingLeonard or on Instagram: @SuzyLeonard.