Whether you just got done mowing the lawn, watching a baseball game, or spending the day at the lake, it’s no argument that the best way to top off a hot summer day is with a Dairy Queen treat! For this reason, the walk-up Dairy Queen in Minot was a popular spot for families, friends, and students to get together and enjoy an ice cream cone, sundae, or blizzard. When Todd and Karen Brabandt purchased the walk-up in 2010, their goal was to continue just that. With over 50 years of combined management experience, they knew they had the skills necessary to cultivate and maintain the family-friendly, fun, refreshing Dairy Queen experience that everyone knows and loves.
Business continued to soar for their first couple of years. The 2011 Minot Flood, however, left Todd and Karen with some decisions. They decided that, with business as busy as it was, they needed to update their Dairy Queen and better accommodate for their customers. “After the flood came, everybody was remodeling, rebuilding, and putting new storefronts up. We just felt like if we didn’t update – if we didn’t keep up – we were going to be lost in the shuffle,” explained Karen.
This is when Karen and Todd decided to tear down the building and completely remodel the restaurant. The new and improved Dairy Queen Grill N’ Chill would accommodate indoor seating for 45+ customers, allow them to operate throughout the winter months, and expand their menu choices. Karen and Todd had a clear vision for this enhanced Dairy Queen:
“We wanted to put a new face on that part of history…the Dairy Queen that had been there for 60 years. We wanted to give the people in the area a really nice place to go for a good meal and a good ice cream treat.”
Todd and Karen turned to the bank for financing for their new and improved restaurant and equipment. After looking over their options, they decided that the SBA 504 loan program would be their best bet. From there, they worked in conjunction with Dakota Certified Development Corporation (now Dakota Business Lending) and Dacotah Bank to secure a loan with a long-term, below market, fixed interest rate.
“The people we worked with were phenomenal!” exclaimed Karen. “I had absolutely no clue where to start or how to even begin applying for financing…Dakota CDC (now Dakota Business Lending) was very instrumental with helping me with the business plan and everything that banks require in order to get this 504 to work. I would have never been able to do it on my own.”
On the first of September, 2014, construction and remodeling began on the small, walk-up Dairy Queen. “We created quite the buzz for a while,” Karen said with a laugh. “We completely scraped it from the ground and started from scratch. My husband had put ‘Closed for Remodeling’ on the big sign outside…people were looking and going: ‘Remodeling?! It’s gone!’” But in just under 6 ½ months, the North Hill Grill N’ Chill was open and back in business!
Today, the North Hill Grill N’ Chill is a proud supporter of a lot of kid programs and continues to give back to the community through school events, special Olympics, sports teams, and other programs. “We like to do stuff for kids…Dairy Queen is kind of a kids thing.” Karen said with a smile.
But kids aren’t the only ones who reap the benefits of the new and improved Dairy Queen. One of the most rewarding parts of this journey for Todd and Karen is the smiles their restaurant brings to the faces of people of all ages—young and old. Since the expansion, business has tripled for the North Hill Grill N’ Chill and continues to bring in their ‘regulars’ as well as many others throughout the community.
“We are so appreciative of the community for everything with the new building,” Karen says gratefully. “I know the old one was very nostalgic and it was a part of the community for many years. For a lot of people, it was hard to see it go. We’re just grateful that everyone has embraced the new building and improvements and have supported it through us all.”