Photo by David Colburn
Robby Steen, owner and operator of the Glen Carbon and Granite City Dairy Queens as well as former manager at the Lebanon, Ill., restaurants, poses in front of the Glen Carbon store. Steen and his team recently won the PRIDE award — his first as an owner and fourth overall — after a surprise inspection in April.
GLEN CARBON — Anyone who’s worked in the food service industry knows the importance of speed, accuracy, cleanliness and friendliness, and now Robby Steen and his team at the Glen Carbon Dairy Queen have the credentials to back it up.
“We constantly want our emphasis on the ‘-est’: the cleanest, fastest and friendliest,” said Steen, owner and operator of the Glen Carbon and Granite City Dairy Queens. Following an unannounced April inspection, spanning everything from facility appearance to food safety, Steen and his Glen Carbon team became the proud recipients of the annual Dairy Queen PRIDE award, his first as an owner and fourth overall.
“Very few stores win the PRIDE award,” he said. “The guidelines are very stringent.”
Each store is judged on a three-color scale of green, yellow and red.
“Green is what to strive for, yellow indicates that the store is busy and needs to be clean, and red means that there’s a buildup that’s been neglected for a day or more. You can only get six yellows — for areas that can easily be cleaned — but you can get no reds in order to pass the inspection. That means there can be no ‘criticals’ for food safety and everything stays in temperature.”
Steen — previously a manager at the Lebanon, Ill. Dairy Queen — purchased the Glen Carbon store on Jan. 1, 2014, and began renovations from the first clock-in. “We painted and redecorated and were eventually able to invest in new equipment to keep up with the volume of business and new procedures to keep everything running smoothly.”
How do Steen and his team work keep up the quality of work worthy of a PRIDE reward?
“As I said, it’s a very tough thing to win, but we set a good plan in place, stay consistent, and keep it a daily priority with daily checklists for each kitchen person and our own ‘red book’.” Steen explains that the red book includes a 54-point, thrice-daily quality inspection for all managers.
“We ultimately want to make sure that everything looks good and up to standard three times a day,” he said.
Steen said good training plays a major role in achieving the accolade.
“We really invest heavily in the training process: our staff earn their way up through 60-day grill certifications and and 60-day ‘chill’ certifications, and we do our best to give our staff an incentive to learn and be more knowledgeable,” he said.
Nine employees are also ServSafe certified between the Glen Carbon and Granite City locations — well beyond the minimum requirement.
“The staff was very excited to have all of their hard work validated with the PRIDE award,” he said.
Winning the PRIDE award is only the beginning for Steen and his team.
“We’re about to begin a big remodeling project at the Granite City location this summer, and we’re going to install a new digital sign for the Glen Carbon store in the next couple of weeks,” he said.
The Glen Carbon location will begin its own major remodeling project next summer.
“The building is over 30 years old, and we really want the facility to match our personnel,” Steen said. “We’ve got really good people, sales and profit are great, our speed is great, and we’ve had plenty of donations to the Children’s Miracle Network. The remodel will be our next big step to take.”
As a four-time recipient of an award based on extensive effort and upkeep, Steen vows to keep everything up to speed and in check at both Glen Carbon and Granite City.
The Glen Carbon Dairy Queen, 3905 S. Illinois 159, is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Granite City Dairy Queen is in the Bellemore Village Shopping Center at 3260 Nameoki Road.