International Dairy Queen Inc., the company behind Dairy Queen Grill & Chill restaurants, is looking to significantly grow its operations in South Carolina in the next few years, according to an official with the company.
“South Carolina as a state, and the Carolinas, are significant growth markets for us,” said Jim Kerr, vice president of franchise development for International Dairy Queen. “They are actually targeted by us, which is kind of unusual for international brands like Dairy Queen, because most of them have already built and moved on to other growth areas in the US or internationally.”
The company would like to open as many as 15 new stores in the state, Kerr said. To that end, the company is looking for potential multi-unit franchise operators to open multiple units.
Brad Walker is one such operator. The seasoned franchisee moved to Charleston last year specifically to open Dairy Queen Grill & Chills in the area.
Walker formerly spent seven years as director for a company that opened 25 units in the Midwest. The south, he says holds greater potential thanks to a good climate.
“The Grill & Chill model came about because a lot of people would close their stores during the winter up north,” Walker said. “I saw potential here and not as big flux during the winter season.”
So far, Walker said his move to South Carolina has been great. The franchisee has plans to open eight stores in the Charleston area in the coming years, the second of which will open later this year.
International Dairy Queen Inc. has gone through a number of manifestations over its 70 years. The Minneapolis, Minnesota-based company is the parent company of American Dairy Queen Corporation. Through its subsidiaries, IDQ develops, licenses and services a system of more than 6,700 locations in the United States, Canada and 27 other countries.
The Grill & Chill model was introduced in the early 2000s as a way to broaden the restaurant’s offerings, Kerr said. The Grill & Chill takes the restaurant beyond just treats, Kerr said, adding a full food menu to the popular blizzards and ice cream cones.
Grill & Chill has allowed the company to grow in the Quick Service Restaurant sector, but the Carolinas region has remained largely untapped, Kerr said.
“It’s such a growth corridor between there and Charlotte,” Kerr said of the Upstate region. “Columbia is also a target market, as well as Charlotte. So I think Greenville-Spartanburg is very important. South Carolina is just one of those state where we have opportunity in multiple markets.”
The growth could mean as many as 1,000 new jobs, Kerr said, as each location on average employs around 50 people.
Franchising opportunities are available now, Kerr said. For more information visit www.dairyqueen.com