A new Dairy Queen under construction in Richland’s Queensgate neighborhood will replace a location that closed this summer at Columbia Center mall.
The Duportail Dairy Queen Grill & Chill will be the fifth Tri-City outlet for owner Stony Lake Enterprises of Walla Walla. The family-owned company operates Dairy Queen franchises across the region.
Its restaurants are concentrated in the Tri-Cities with outposts in the western Yakima Valley as well as Walla Walla.
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Tom Tierney, who owns Stony Lake with his brother, Kerry, said the company closed its mall location when its lease expired in June. It opted to invest time and resources in a freestanding location in one of the region’s three growth spots.
“We saw an opportunity out there and we decided to go in that direction,” Tierney said.
Site work began this summer at 3250 Duportail, near the intersection with Keene Road. The project is being built by Zeigler Construction and has a value of $850,000, according to a permit issued by the city of Richland. Tierney said the new restaurant will open in early December with 45 to 55 full- and part-time employees to start.
The company partners with Baker Boyer Bank and Community First on its expansion projects. Baker Boyer financed the new Richland location.
The Duportail restaurant will adhere to Dairy Queen’s “Core 72” design for its “grill & chill” concept, with a few minor modifications to aid with workflow. Tierney said most customers won’t notice the operational changes.
The new restaurant will be visually similar to the Road 68 Dairy Queen in Pasco, which opened in 2012.
In choosing the Duportail location, Stony Creek is executing on a strategy to place restaurants in high-growth areas. In addition to Queensgate and Road 68, it has a Kennewick location at West Second Avenue and Highway 395, on the periphery of Kennewick’s Southridge area.
The Kennewick spot opened about 15 years ago, a few years after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. acquired Dairy Queen Inc. and implemented a brand revitalization.
Tierny admitted he was initially skeptical when Berkshire Hathaway acquired Dairy Queen in 1997 but said it has been a good steward of the iconic American brand.
Berkshire Hathaway, he said, “is one of the best things that happened to us.”
There are more than 6,000 Dairy Queen locations with the vast majority owned and operated by franchisees such as Stony Brook.
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