Dairy Queen Breaks Franchise Structure

Normally, when a franchisee takes on the responsibility of running a business, he or she agrees to the terms set out by the franchiser. This is generally accepted as offering a better chance of success, and providing greater returns over all. Of course, for the Dairy Queen located in Moorhead, Minn., this may not be the case.

 The Dairy Queen Model

Like most franchise opportunities, Dairy Queen has a specific model each location is supposed to follow. In the business community, this structure is generally accepted as a way to ensure success. People get involved in a franchise not just because of the name recognition, but also because it allows them to utilize a turnkey system for making money.

In this particular model, the initial investment is around $400,000 on the low end (including a $25,000 franchise fee) and over $1,000,000 on the high end. New store owners have to pay $1,000 per year to continue operating their business and also pay corporate 5 to 6 percent of Gross sales towards sales and promotions. Though these costs might sound high, for someone ready to make the investment, it can yield significant personal rewards.

For owners Troy and Diane DeLeon of the Moorhead location, they don’t want anything to do with this modern model.

Breaking the Mold

Having an operation that spans back to 1949, the owner of the Moorhead Dairy Queen doesn’t have to work within the boundaries of the standard model. Instead, he holds onto the 1949 contract established by the original owner. This allows him to only pay about a 1 percent royalty rate, and it also allows him to sell many of the original items no longer offered by other locations around the world. This combination makes for a real family environment and attracts people from all around when the store is open.

Whether you want one of the popular Dilly Bars or you want to grab a Bar-B-Que sandwich, your whole family will enjoy stopping by. They also sell many other old-style items like the Monkey Tails, Old Fashion Soda, and the Chipper Sandwich. If you take your dog with you, go ahead and ask for a “doggie dish.”

A Truly Unique Experience

Because it continues to operate based on the original contract, the Moorhead Dairy Queen is able to offer customers a truly unique experience when they arrive. One of the most notable of these features is the strange store hours. Rather than stay open all year-round, they only operate from March through October. During this time, they have a different schedule for the summer compared to the spring and fall months.

Of course, these seasonal hours are not the only thing that is different about this location. They also offer an outside patio area for dining and a walk-up order process. Everything about the location is reminiscent of the original opening in 1949, and though they have adopted some newer menu items and made some minor alterations, they stick to this old feel in everything they do.

At the end of the day, McLeon is very happy running his business as it is. No matter how much Dairy Queen corporate might want him to cave, he is standing firm.


Have you had the opportunity to visit the Moorhead Dairy Queen? If not, would you want to go there for the unique experience?

Additional Images: Flickr / Steven Pisano



Joseph Macolino
Joseph Macolino
When Joseph is not writing for his Evorath fantasy series, he tries to spend time honing his physical prowess to one day become the Punisher. Most of the time, he just ends up perfecting the art of procrastination by watching Netflix, reading other good fantasy books, or playing some mindless game. Follow him at Evorath