End of an era for Blizzards and Dilly Bars

Dairy Queen store closing after 70 years in New Ulm

Jacob Underhill, Shelly Winter, Kim Meidl, and Tanner Johnson stand behind the Dairy Queen counter as four of the final five workers before the store closes March 30. Reidl holds a duck representing Linda Klossner, the fifth worker who was not working at the time.

NEW ULM — After more than seven decades of slinging Blizzards, Dilly Bars, and burgers, New Ulm’s Dairy Queen is closing for good.

The Dairy Queen was originally located at 1326 North Broadway when it opened Aug. 4, 1950. It moved to its current barn-shaped building at 1501 North Broadway Street in 1968. Now it will have its last day of service on Saturday, March 30.

After Easter Sunday, memorabilia and other items will be available April 1 through 4, after which the store will close for good.

“We’re gonna miss you as much as you miss us,” Manager Kim Meidl said of the store’s regular customers. “Regulars, they come and we get to know them very personally. When you see a car coming around the corner and you’re making food before they even come in because you know what they want. Those are the ones that I’m going to miss the most.”

Meidl has worked at Dairy Queen for 14 years and had three kids work there at one time or another.

This barn-shaped building which has held Dairy Queen for decades will soon stop selling Dilly Bars and Blizzards. Owner Shelly Winters said due to a lack of staff and the years of work piling up, she has no choice but to close.

Shelly Winter has been the owner of the store since 2001 and overall has worked there for 30 years. She said the biggest thing that changed in her time was the availability of workers. When she started, she said a lot of kids worked after school. She said a lot of families had kids who worked at Dairy Queen.

In recent years it became harder and harder to find employees. Before closing only five people are working at Dairy Queen, including Winters. She said she remembers all of the people who worked at Dairy Queen over the years to gain experience while in school.

“When we took over I had all three of my kids here in New Ulm,” Winter said. “They all grew up here and started working here. Employees are big memories. Went through a lot of kids. I have good young adults that work for me now. All of them knew way in advance that we were going to be closing. It was really difficult for me to come up with that decision.”

With the continued short staff and years continuing to go by, Winter said now was the time to close.

“A lot of us are having surgeries,” she said. “Some of us have just gone through hell and back over the pandemic with just four or five people working. We’re working seven days a week. Some of us put in 50-60 hours a week. Then the customers start complaining. They’re on short fuses, and don’t understand why they can’t get what they want.”

Those who come to Dairy Queen in its final days will see signs like this across the store describing its closure. For those looking to own a piece of history, pieces of memorabilia and store fixings will be sold off April 1 through 4.

Winter said there have been mixed reactions about the restaurant’s closure.

“I hear our regulars, they’re sad,” she said. “Then I hear of course Facebook. There’s always something negative on Facebook, so they’re kind of happy.”

Manager Jacob Underhill said with Dairy Queen going away, a big piece of his life growing up will be a thing of the past as well.

“I grew up with this Dairy Queen and being here,” he said. “It is a part of my life. It’s gonna be like a childhood memory, one of those places you come back to. You know it’s not the same but you still get a sense of nostalgia when you’re there.”

Winter was visibly saddened that the Dairy Queen would soon be no more. She said she will go through a mourning period, waking up early in the morning even though it is no longer necessary to start the day at 6 a.m. to get everything ready.


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