When it comes to buying ice cream at Dairy Queen, Warren Buffett likes the vanilla orange bar the best. In fact, that’s what fellow billionaire and Microsoft (MSFT) founder Bill Gates bought Buffett this past weekend in Omaha, when the two men visited the DQ booth at the annual shareholder meeting for Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A).
Buffett bought the soft serve ice cream and fast food restaurant chain in 1998. Dairy Queen, abbreviated DQ, is currently in 30 countries. Its largest presence is in the U.S. and Canada, but it recently opened stores in Poland, Vietnam and Jordan. DQ’s CEO, John Gainor, tells Yahoo Finance to expect more expansion in international markets.
DQ entered the Chinese market nearly three decades ago, with a little help from Mr. Buffett and friends. Bill Gates and Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman, Charlie Munger, accompanied Buffett in 1990 for the ribbon cutting of the very first DQ in China.
“The beauty of being owned by Berskhire,” says Gainor, “is that Warren really believes that each of the managers needs to be able to run their companies.” He adds that Buffett is always available to answer a question or lend some guidance.
DQ is a popular place for first time job seekers, especially teenagers, who earn minimum wage at its stores across the country. Gainor admits that rising minimum wages in many states is an issue the company and its franchises are dealing with. However, he says rising wages have not impacted DQ’s plans for summer hiring.
Some famous faces were once minimum wage workers at DQ, including singers Gwen Stefani and Martina McBride and actress Bonnie Hunt.
In addition to its new hot food offerings, including specialty sandwiches and hot desserts, DQ just rolled out the Royal Blizzard. The Oreo Royal Blizzard, for example, has cold fudge in the “vortex” or middle of the dessert drink. In the words of DQ’s CEO, “We’re taking the Blizzard to a whole new level.” We have to think Warren Buffett approves.