Carlos "tiger" r. valdez
On a recent Thursday afternoon, the front lawns of Lockney, a South Plains farming town of fewer than two thousand, were still dusted with the windblown residue of the cotton harvest. Main Street was largely deserted, and most of the storefronts were empty.
Though locals long ago became hardened to news of economic woes, the latest casualty was one that few could fathom: the local Dairy Queen, the iconic fast-food mainstay of small-town Texas, closed in late October. Its red roof is marked with a teardrop-shaped scar where the DQ logo once perched.
Inside, the menu boards have been stripped clean. The old saying that every Texas town has a Dairy Queen is no longer true for many communities, especially the agricultural hamlets of the Panhandle, which have been disproportionately affected by a spate of closures.
A farewell to dairy queens
In Haskell, about miles southeast of Lockney, city manager Janet Moeller was so concerned when she heard about the closure in her town that she called her counterpart in Graham to see if the owners of its Dairy Queen would buy the Haskell site and reopen it. So far, nothing has come of the request. The old saying that every Texas town has a Dairy Queen is no longer true for many communities. Most are in cities like Post, Claude, and Perryton, in the heart of cotton country.
Vasari also blamed its demise on Hurricane Harvey, claiming that it ruined inventory and damaged stores. Neither Vasari officials nor their bankruptcy attorneys responded to requests for comment.
Though most seemed to be doing a healthy business, at least in the eyes of locals, supplying remote towns miles from the interstate is an expensive proposition. Vasari, the second-largest Dairy Queen operator in the country, was formed in to buy 69 Texas stores from another bankrupt company, Roundtable Corp. But that bump was short-lived. InJ. The product proved to be a hit.
He had trouble with the Q swirl on top of the soft-serve cones. Dairy Queen reached Texas inwhen Missouri businessman O. Klose and his son, Rolly, bought the franchise rights and opened a store on Guadalupe Street in Austin, near the University of Texas campus. Rather than selling just ice cream and desserts, though, Klose added burgers and other savory items, which set Texas Dairy Queens apart from others across the country.
Dairy Queens in some other states now offer these options, but Texas Dairy Queen menus remain unique. To this day, virtually every Dairy Queen is a franchise; only two, both in Minnesota, are company owned.
Soon stores were popping up across rural Texas, and they became ingrained in the social fabric. Last summer, when Republican representative Will Hurd conducted a series of meetings with constituents, he hosted them at Dairy Queens across his district, which stretches from San Antonio to El Paso.
Dating ohne plappern der erstes event hat bereits stattgefunden.
In the nineties, well-heeled investors began rolling up mom-and-pop businesses across the country, from plumbing to pest control, hoping to boost profitability by providing economies of scale. Dairy Queen, with its disparate owners, got caught up in the trend.
The result has been baleful for small towns. Although a local owner might be willing to fight through lean times, pay employees out of his own pocket, and keep the store open out of a sense of community, operations like Vasari have to weigh those concerns against the profitability of their entire operation.
Vasari hopes to reach a consensual reorganization with its creditors that would enable the company to move swiftly through bankruptcy. If approved, the company could exit bankruptcy as early as this spring.
The loss is about far more than jobs or sales tax revenue. But when asked about the Dairy Queen, he turned somber.