(UPDATE – DQ IS NOW DRIVE-THRU ONLY DUE TO COVID-19) By Jenny Paulson – At this little restaurant on Lake Avenue on the South Side of Pueblo the menu is simple – ice cream and deserts, that’s all you’ll get. It’s the only Dairy Queen in the Pueblo are without a full menu (they don’t have a frier to sell burgers, chicken strips, chicken sandwiches, artisan sandwiches, fries and etc), and that’s just fine with Pueblo natives.
In 2015, local restaurant owner Warren Diodosio and his family, who bought all Pueblo area Dairy Queens in the 1980s, remodeled both the Troy and South Side buildings, then did some remodels at the Hwy 50 north location and finished up the one in Pueblo West, which has a new outdoor patio.
I’ve posted raving reviews about the remodels and how our local DQ owners were going high tech with call ahead ordering and with payments available at the restaurants using smart phones, curbside pick up and self order kiosks – and that you won’t feel you are eating at a fast food restaurant because of their amazing stone work, new tiling, lighting and more.
But there’s something to admire about this old fashioned Lake Avenue Dairy Queen restaurant, that’s been a fixture in Pueblo for many decades – and is a Pueblo traditional place to go on a hot day (or not) for ice cream cones, freezes, banana splits, blizzards and more.
The building here used to be a gas station in the 1940s, but was turned into Dairy Queen in the 1950s. The first Dairy Queen store in the US opened in 1940 in Joliet, Illinois, where a father and son in the mix plant business experimented with a soft frozen dairy product. They ran the “all you can eat” trial sale at his walk-in ice cream store and dished out more than 1,600 servings of the new dessert.
Back then, food franchising was all but unheard of, but the new product’s potential made it a natural for such a system. When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, there were less than ten Dairy Queen stores. However shortly after the war, the system took off at a pace virtually unrivaled before or since.
With only 100 stores in 1947, it grew to 1,446 in 1950 and then to 2,600 in 1955. Today, the Dairy Queen system is one of the largest fast food systems in the world with more than 5,900 restaurants in the United States, Canada and 20 foreign countries, including in Pueblo, which has one of America’s oldest Dairy Queens, as photographed here.
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