Buffalo and Upstate New York is now a target market for Dairy Queen expansion

Dairy Queen wants more DQ Grill & Chills in Buffalo, Upstate

Dairy Queen is joining the growing ranks of national chains that are looking to the Buffalo Niagara area as a prime expansion market.

International Dairy Queen Inc., the Minneapolis-based parent of American Dairy Queen Corp., is targeting Buffalo and Upstate New York to add 100 new locations of its DQ Grill & Chill outlets in the next decade. The company, a Berkshire Hathaway Inc., affiliate has just started looking for local franchise operators to run the locations. Berkshire Hathaway is the owner of the Buffalo News.

“We view Buffalo as an area with great opportunity,” said Jim Kerr, International Dairy Queen vice president of franchise development.

Currently, there are a pair of DQ Grill & Chill sites — one on Transit Road in Lancaster and the other on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Niagara Falls.

Potentially, the area could see at least six other DQ Grill & Chill locations developed in the coming years.

“Buffalo is a solid market with strong family connections and roots,” Kerr said.

DQ Grill & Chill incorporates its standard ice cream cones, Buster Bars and Dilly Bars with hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, salads and fries. DQ Grill & Chill debuted as a dining alternative to the popular Dairy Queen outlets in 2002.

Dairy Queen has more than 1,500 DQ Grill & Chill locations including 84 that opened last year and the conversion of 200 older Dairy Queen sites into DQ Grill & Chill restaurants.

The average DQ Grill & Chill is a single-story building with approximately 2,612-square-feet and a 72-person seating capacity.

Kerr said it costs between $1.07 million and $1.83 million — plus the cost of leasing or purchasing the land — to start up a DQ Grill & Chill location.

“We have a menu that attracts people and a concept that is well known and accepted,” Kerr said. “Between our food and ice cream, we serve the best of both worlds.”

With more than 6,700 Dairy Queen locations worldwide, DQ Grill & Chill are making inroads both within the organization and in the public. DQ Grill & Chill sites now account for approximately 35 percent of all of the chain’s U.S. franchised locations.

“Everything we are building these days is a DQ Grill & Chill,” Kerr said.

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