Yukoners welcomed a different kind of Blizzard on April 24 when the new Dairy Queen on Range Road opened its doors to a waiting crowd at 11 a.m.
The restaurant had to close ahead of schedule in the afternoon, but already many customers had made their way into the restaurant to enjoy some of their favourite treats from the franchise – Blizzards, sundaes, burgers and more.
A number posted photos of themselves on social media enjoying their purchases, some grabbing a box or two of frozen treats to have at home.
As the day continued, the restaurant initially updated its Facebook page to report it was having issues with its fryer and was unable to make fries, onion rings or chicken strips.
“We can still make you burgers and ice cream,” the post reads, after noting staff would still love to see customers.
Later, it reported it had shut.
“We are currently closed and will update everyone once we have figured out (the) problem,” the post reads. “We are so sorry.”
In an April 25 interview, manager Melissa Tonner said the early closure was disappointing after such an exciting start to the day.
Working in the kitchen when the doors open, she did not see how many were on-hand for that magic moment when the first customer walked in, but the excitement was clear.
“Everyone was cheering,” she said.
While crowds continued to stream in, when the fryer began having issues, management initially planned to take the deep fried goods off the menu for the day and still offer up burgers and ice cream.
With the fryer connected to propane though, they soon decided to switch gears in the interest of safety.
“Safety first,” Tonner said, noting the situation was disappointing for everyone from customers who were asked to leave and staff – many who are students getting their first job experience. She praised staff for their work on such a busy opening day and for all the work they had put into training before hand.
While pylons were put in place in an effort to keep people from coming in, a number parked on the road instead to walk to the restaurant only to find it closed, though staff handed out Dilly Bars to those who came.
The restaurant has had someone in working on the fryer since the restaurant’s early closure, but it’s still not clear when it will be fixed. Tonner said staff and management are anxious for the restaurant to open, but will wait until the equipment is working. In the meantime, it’s noted on the most recent Facebook post, staff are making cakes and Buster Bars.
Tonner thanked the community for their patience and kindness that’s been shown.
Close to 80 responses followed the post about the closure with more private messages coming in to the DQ Whitehorse page. While some expressed disappointment and upset, the majority voiced an understanding that “these things happen,” and the kinks sometimes need to be worked out in the first days of business.
As one commenter stated, referring to the closure of the previous Dairy Queen to be open in Whitehorse: “We have been waiting for 15 years, no hurry, take all the time you need.”
There has been significant public interest in the opening of the restaurant since the rezoning of the site to allow for a drive-thru came to Whitehorse city council in 2021.
Multiple petitions of support were presented to council, bearing more than 2,200 names of people who had leant their names to the documents. Another 11 letters of support came into the city, and a further seven opposed the zoning for the drive-thru highlighting concerns around sustainability and climate change, while others expressed concerns such as the importance of keeping the downtown vibrant.
Those in favour noted a drive-thru in that area could be convenient for travellers and those who work in the area, while helping to keep traffic out of downtown. Many focused on the restaurant itself, including one commenter who commented with humour, in a petition of support: “My life has been a hollow and empty shell since our local DQ closed. Hearing that I may have access to peanut butter buster parfaits once again gives me great joy. Please do not deny me this opportunity.”
Council ultimately approved the rezoning, with ground being broken for the building in August. Over the ensuing months, DQ Whitehorse has continued to update its social media with progress on both the building and staff training to its opening April 24.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at email@example.com