Crews were working Saturday morning on the drive through lane on the west side of the new Dairy Queen at 518. E. Main Street. The grand opening is expected near the end of October. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz


Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Construction on the Dairy Queen restaurant at 518 East Main Street has progressed swiftly over the summer, with an opening expected in late October. The grand opening date will be announced about 14 days in advance.
Before opening, contractors still must finish their work, occupancy permits must be issued and staff has to be hired and trained.
“Once our training staff is on site, we’re roughly two weeks away, then we’ll set the firm date,” said Mike Mettler, vice president of franchise sales and development for Dairy Queen.
Mettler said DQ corporate has considered Gardner a target area for growth for about 8 years.
“We’re excited – to get the right site, the right operator and get through the permitting zoning process. It’s a lot of work. We’re excited to have a store there – it’s an area we’ve wanted to have a store in for years,” he said.
This process began in December 2016 when the Planning Commission initiated the rezoning of four lots, two of which were residential, to CP-2 Planned General Business District.
DQ architects and representatives worked with city planners through the spring and early summer months, eventually resulting in commission recommendation and council approvals of preliminary and final plats and site development plans.
In late June, the two residential structures on the north side of the property were demolished and excavation work began.
A necessary consideration for building on this spot was the storm drainage that passes through it. The city approved the developers plan to install box culverts to transport the water underneath the lot.
The realty office next door gave up their Main Street access to allow one for DQ.
Staff attached a dozen conditions to be met for recommendation of the Final Development Plan. Mettler was appreciative of the amount of work that went into this project.
“Among many others who worked to make Gardner’s new DQ Grill & Chill a reality, we especially appreciated the efforts of Michelle Leininger, Principal Planner of the City of Gardner; Joyce O’Connor of Reese Nichols, and longtime resident of Gardner; and Mayor Chris Morrow, who recognized the DQ Grill & Chill as a notable accomplishment for the city of Gardner in his 2017 annual address.  After several years of working to find the right site in Gardner, we were thrilled to earn the unanimous support of the Planning Commission, and are extremely excited to finally be opening a new DQ Grill & Chill in the heart of the city,”said Mettler.