‘Time for me to slow down’

Sleepy Eye Dairy Queen owner selling store to Comfrey farmer

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Sleepy Eye Dairy Queen owner Scott Vaubel, left, waits on a customer as his son Andrew, center, waits on drive-up traffic.

SLEEPY EYE — Scott Vaubel has owned Dairy Queen businesses in Sleepy Eye and Fairmont for years, but he recently decided it’s time to take it a little easier.

Vaubel plans to sell the Sleepy Eye Dairy Queen but continue owning a walk-up Dairy Queen in Fairmont that sells ice cream, hot dogs, pretzels and chips.

“I’m in my late 50s. It’s time for me to slow down,” Vaubel said.

He and Comfrey farmer Darrell Kral plan to complete the sale of the Sleepy Eye Dairy Queen the last week of April. The business may be closed for a brief time but customers may be relieved to know it shouldn’t be very long.

People that have purchased sweet corn at the corner of U.S. Highway 14 and State Highway 4 in Sleepy Eye may be familiar with Kral and his family.

“We’ve always done business in Sleepy Eye. My parents sold corn there for years. At 15, I started driving a truck that hauled the sweet corn from Comfrey to Sleepy Eye,” said Kral.

“Years ago, us kids picked pickles and sold them in Sleepy Eye,” Kral said.

“We also sold cattle to meat lockers in Sleepy Eye, Springfield and wherever else we could. My mother Anna and neighbor ladies did catering for BIC, now the Koozie Group in Sleepy Eye,” he added.

Kral said he’s always had a full-time job off the farm that produces corn, beans and cattle but felt the Dairy Queen purchase was good timing.

“I’ve got two young girls who can take over when they’re old enough. It may eventually be their business. They can learn it from the bottom up like they did with farming,” he added.

Vaubel has been preparing meals for a long time.

His first job as a teenager was preparing meals for funerals and weddings at a large church in Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis.

He studied industrial technology at first but later changed majors to hospitality at the University of Wisconsin Stout. He worked at the university food service.

“I loved food service work a lot,” said Vaubel.

Returning to the Twin cities, he worked at Little Caesars and Domino’s Pizza franchises, then Kentucky Fried Chicken before realizing Dairy Queen was the place he really loved to be.

“I couldn’t handle sitting still. I like it when it’s always ‘go’ time,” he said.

“I talked to a Dairy Queen manager next door a pizza place when I was in college. He told me they needed three Dairy Queen managers and asked if i was interested. I later bought a Dairy Queen,” Vaubel said.

Vaubel bought a Dairy Queen in Montevideo in 1999. He operated it until a Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) highway project required the business to be torn down.

He bought the Sleepy Eye Dairy Queen in January 2008.

The business features photos of the Seifert Quads Mike, Monica, Marie and Martha of Sleepy Eye at the Dairy Queen beginning in the 1950s when the late former Sleepy Eye Mayor Jim Broich owned it.

The Seifert Quads returned for more Dairy Queen photos in Sleepy Eye with Vaubel in 2018.

He invites New Ulm customers to come to Sleepy Eye since the New Ulm Dairy Queen closed in March.

Vaubel recommends customers download the DQ app on their phones. It enables them to order ahead, pay ahead, walk or drive in and go.

“I’ve have lots of good years with Dairy Queen. Actually, the COVID-19 pandemic was great for us in Sleepy Eye because had a drive-through,” he added.

“I’ll miss the people in Sleepy Eye. That’s for sure,” said Vaubel.

“I’ve been busy trying to run two stores. It can be exhausting,” he added.

Vaubel remains a board member for a Montevideo transportation museum.

“I have puppies galore at my (St. James) home,” he added.

His wife Teresa is a traveling Registered Nurse.


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