BETHALTO — Bethalto Dairy Queen guests recently helped celebrate its 14-year anniversary under the ownership of Jim and Brenda Cox with half-price Blizzards.
The creamy sale July 9 was a way to say “thank you” to the loyal customers who the Coxes say have built the franchise to what it is today.
Jim and Brenda purchased the franchise at 444 W. Bethalto Drive from friends on July 9, 2001, after researching options for early retirement.
“It’s been fun,” Brenda said when discussing the overall Dairy Queen experience. “A lot of people ask us if we’d do it again and we would. My husband had worked fast food when he was a kid, but we really didn’t have background in this industry. DQ taught us, different franchisees helped us, and it’s been fun.”
Before owning the restaurant, Jim was an electrician employed at Shell and Brenda was a registered nurse, so this was a new industry for both.
You couldn’t tell from the way it is operated and maintained. The Bethalto Dairy Queen has become one of the very few stores in the franchise to win every Dairy Queen PRIDE (Personal Responsibility in Delivering Excellence) award.
Brenda said they pride themselves in being known for their cleanliness and friendliness, and that has warranted positive feedback from vendors and customers alike.
“We get a lot of compliments from our customers,” she said. “We have retired veterans who come here that all of our staff knows by first name; it’s kind of a family atmosphere.”
Brenda said none of these successes would be possible without the store’s crew. The restaurant has many long-term crew members, including managers with five years or more with the company. The store’s general manger, Toni Book, has been with the Bethalto franchise since the beginning and will be celebrating a 20-year anniversary at that location this November.
“The crew makes us, honestly,” Brenda said. “We’re here every day, but our crew is who our customers see first and they leave the impression on the customers. To us, they’re family; they are part of our family.”
Brenda said one of her favorite memories while owning the store was the complete remodel in 2012. She said it was exciting to see the building completely transformed inside and out.
The Bethalto franchise was the first in the area to remodel to the DQ Chill and Grill layout. With the renovations, it also was the first Dairy Queen to put a lounge in the store. The lounge’s free wifi provides an area for customers to do homework or search the Internet.
The location has daily specials for military and public service officials, and during the summer the store has live musical performances on the patio. An annual car cruise will take place Saturday, Sept. 12.
Hours are 10:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily, with opening hours at 11 a.m. on Sunday and closing hours extended to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
For information, call (618) 377-2253.