You’ve probably been there; or taken your children there, most likely more than once. The Dairy Queen on Route 302 in North Windham is a local institution. It is a family owned business hidden behind a national sign. Arthur Napolitano has been the owner of the Dairy Queen for forty years.
|Mr. Napolitano in 1983|
“I was with another corporation. Eighteen years and they decided to pull out of the United States,” explains Mr. Napolitano. “I started looking for something to do and the business came up at Booty’s Corner. It had been established for . . . fifteen years . . . maybe a little longer at that time. The owner decided to sell.” The rest is local history.
Dairy Queen wasn’t always located where it is today. It used to be in the lot where Cross Insurance currently is. After 10 years of being on that corner, Mr. Napolitano had been trying to buy the land Dairy Queen was located on at that time. He owned the business and the building, and wanted to own the land, but the owner of that land was indecisive about selling. So, he decided to buy another lot.
There used to be a building called The Shoe Haven in the spot where Dairy Queen is currently located. Mr. Napolitano bought The Shoe Haven lot and rented out the building for a short period of time. Once the owner of the land Dairy Queen used to be located on decided not to sell, Mr. Napolitano moved the Dairy Queen to where it currently is in 1987. The “new” location opened in the Spring of 1988.
Once the “new” location opened, Mr. Napolitano was there a lot, but he was not the only Napolitano there. His children worked there as well. “All the kids had the opportunity . . . to work in the business, he explains. “It will teach them some work ethics, give them some responsibility and also give them a little money. I was working the business to build it. At least for those first 10 years, I just kept on pushing and growing; that was the whole idea.”
|Napolitano with his son Stephen.|
His son, Stephen Napolitano, goes on to say, “Over the years we’ve reinvested into the store with new equipment, a portion of remodeling with more to come over the next couple years.”
Before Dairy Queen moved to its current location, the building was a walk-up store with sliding glass doors that opened to greet the customer. The customer stood outdoors. The new location had indoor seating and a drive-thru window. “It also had a cake freezer, because at that time, Dairy Queen was introducing the ice cream cake and having the freezer helped promote the ice cream cakes” observed Mr. Napolitano.
Mr. Napolitano has put a lot of hours into his store and enjoys the interaction with the people the most. He remembers before Dairy Queen moved to its current location, “all the local kids used to hang out at the Dairy Queen. They would meet on the corner and some of those people ended up being people who helped us when we started building; there a lot of great people [in this town].”
Dairy Queen is a place a lot of people like to work. “In this business, you’re hiring a lot of people.” Mr. Napolitano explains. “Many local employees stay with us a long time. It’s fun to see the kids who worked for me come in with their kids.”
“If it’s a good experience for our employees than it’s a great experience for our customers,” adds his son.
The North Windham location has been a major sponsor of local sports in the community from little league to youth soccer and to other sports over the years. Starting in August of 2000, they had their first national Children's Miracle Network Fundraiser. The Windham location has raised and donated approximately $40,000; all of which has gone directly to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland. They have had local personalities join them for past events such as: Two Miss Maines, Channel 13’s Dave Eid, WJAB Shoeman and Seadog's Slugger! Their next one will be in late July 2018.
The Napolitanos are embedded in the community. The Dairy Queen has been a success because Arthur Napolitano, “is a good man and people trust him,” says his son. The hardworking owners and employees have served a countless number of folks within the community in its 40-year existence and will continue serving, for hopefully many more years to come.
And the Town of Windham wouldn’t have it any other way!
MAJOR MILESTONES AND FUN FACTS IN "DAIRY QUEEN" HISTORY
1938: "Dairy Queen" soft serve developed by J. F. Mc Cullough
1940: First store opening in Joliet, Illinois
1947: System grows to 100 stores
1949: Shakes and malts added to the line of cones, sundaes and take-home pints
1950: System grows to 1466 stores
1951: Banana Split introduced
1955: "Dilly" Bar introduced as the system grows to 2600 stores
1957: First "Brazier" store opened in Georgia
1959: "Dairy Queen" red ellipse logo developed
1961: "Mr. Misty" drink introduced
1953: First DQ® store opens in Canada.
1966: First national TV commercial, "Live a Little," is aired.
1968: "Brazier" hot food line officially adopted by the system
1971 International Federation of Store Owners Association (IFSOA) was founded by franchisees.
1971: "Peanut Buster" Parfait introduced
1972: First DQ® store opens in Japan.
1973: Say the word “Scrumpdillyishus®!” and get a Peanut Buster® Parfait for 49 cents.
1979: The DQ® system debuts in the Middle East
1979: "Full Meal Deal" introduced
1980 Association changed name to Dairy Queen Operators' Association.
1981: "Dairy Queen" Frozen Cakes introduced
1985: "Blizzard" Flavor Treat introduced
1985: More than 175 million Blizzard® Treats sold in its first year.
1987: First "Treat Center" store opens, which combines "Dairy Queen", "Karmelkorn" and "Orange Julius" menus
1989: System grows to 5200 stores. Dairy Queen® ranked America's number one treat chain.
1990: "Dairy Queen" Non-fat Frozen Yogurt introduced
1995: "DQ Treatzza Pizza" introduced
1991: First DQ® store opens in Mexico.
1995: DQ® Treatzza Pizza® and the Chicken Strip Basket make their debut.
1996: "Value-Meal Plus It" concept introduced to replace "Full-Meal Deal"
1998: IDQ was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffet)
1999: Pecan Mudslide® Treat and the CheeseQuake® Blizzard were introduced
2001: Crispy Chicken Salad is introduced.
2001: The first DQ Grill & Chill® restaurant opens in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
2001: "DQ" became the company's official name
2001: The Oreo Brownie Earthquake was introduced. DQ phased out frozen yogurt.
2002: Dennis the Menace (since 1971) was dropped because DQ felt children could no longer relate to him.
2004: The MooLatte® Frozen Coffee Flavored Beverage line debuts in Mocha, Vanilla and Caramel flavors.
2004: Award-winning DQ commercials can be seen throughout the country in the system's first full year of national advertising.
2005: GrillBurgers™ are introduced to consumers on national TV.
2006: The DQ red ellipse logo design was amended with an added blue for "Chill" and orange for "Grill"
2006: Miracle Treat Campaign elwas launched
2007: DQ Freshly Baked Waffle Treats were introduced
2008: Iron Grilled Sandwiches introduced
2012: All DQ locations featured Orange Julius drinks and Premium Smoothies
2013: DQ introduced $5 buck lunch
2014: DQ has 6,400 stores in more than 25 countries; about 4,500 of its stores (approx 70%) were located in the United States.
2015: DQ Baked products were introduced
2016: Royal Blizzards were introduced
America’s Largest Dairy Queen Is in Bloomington, Illinois. The 5,000-square-foot restaurant boasts a 140-seat dining room, three fireplaces, flat-screen televisions, and a patio that seats an additional 40 guests. The largest Dairy Queen in the world, however, is located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. DQ locations are in 31 different countries.