Photo by Diane Cox
Kelly and Chad Gerber took over the ownership of the Bethalto Dairy Queen on Oct. 1. The DQ location will celebrate 20 years in business Nov. 20.
BETHALTO — When Kelly and Chad Gerber purchased the Bethalto Dairy Queen, a strong community relationship was at the forefront of their thoughts.
Jim and Brenda Cox passed the torch Oct. 1 after running the business at 444 W. Bethalto Drive for more than 14 years.
“It’s really important to us to give back to the community that kept this business going for 20 years,” Kelly Gerber said. “One thing we’re doing is getting involved with fundraisers. We welcome our community and local surrounding communities to come in and talk to us about raising funds for organizations, individuals and groups. We employ people from neighboring towns, so we want to welcome them, too.”
Keeping involved with local school districts is one way the couple wants to bring the community together. Being part of school fundraising needs, working with after-prom committees, church organizations and donating raffle items are among the ways they hope to keep a close connection with customers.
“We’re developing ideas as we go along,” Kelly said. “For example, when the Eagles played Saturday, we had signs up to show our support and wishing them luck. We ran a special to support the team. However many points the Eagles scored, that’s what our customers paid for our hamburgers. We sold burgers for 14 cents.”
Officially opening Nov. 20, 1995, the Gerbers are celebrating 20 years Friday, Nov. 20, inviting customers to the Bethalto DQ location for half-price menu items.
“We were very fortunate to come into this well-established business and we know we have some big shoes to fill,” Kelly said. “We met the previous owners, Jim and Brenda Cox, through mutual friends. They did an amazing job with the business and they have helped make this transition seamless. We’ve kept all the same staff and we’re enjoying our general manager, Tony Book, who has been with this location since day one.”
Brenda was a registered nurse and Jim was an electrician at Shell before buying the Bethalto DQ branch. The step into franchise ownership occurred when they were considering early retirement options and purchased the store from friends. The Coxes took pride in the complete remodel in 2012 that included a section providing a living room-style atmosphere. A family environment was as important to the Coxes as customer service and store appearance.
Chad Gerber, a medical physicist, is originally from Bethalto and a 1989 graduate of Civic Memorial High school. They have one daughter in college in Carbondale who is following in her father’s footsteps in medical physics. Their youngest daughter attends Trimpe Middle School. Kelly hails from West Tennessee but her Southern charm has become a fixture in the Eagles’ nest.
“I worked in psychology before becoming a stay-at-home mom,” Kelly said. “I substitute teach around the area, and I’ve worked at Leisure World for the last 10 years teaching water aerobics and working with seniors with arthritis. One of my Leisure World clients wanted to be our first customer on October 1. I have the $5 from his sale framed on the wall. Leisure World has been very supportive. I told the owner, Donna, she was going to be mad at me. I took coupon books into the health club and passed them out. Donna jokingly called it job security.”
Kelly and Chad Gerber invite customers to visit them at their new location from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. For information, call (618) 377-2253.
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