The Highway 31 North Dairy Queen has served customers since 1955. It will be closing by Oct. 31, 2018. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)
Updated 9-18-18 10:46 p.m.
CULLMAN – A longtime staple of north downtown Cullman is closing its doors. Dairy Queen, located at 410 Second Ave. (U.S. Highway 31 North) announced Tuesday it will be closed by Oct. 31, 2018.
Employees on Tuesday told The Tribune they are "heartbroken" and "having a hard time today." Some will be going to the south Cullman location (1840 Lee Ave. SW).
Owners Michael and Samantha Way said in a letter to customers Tuesday that the contract on the Hwy. 31 store is expiring and that they have not been able to reach an agreement with the Dairy Queen Corporation.
The Ways said they believe the downtown DQ first opened in 1957. The business has been in their family since 1982.
Michael Way said, “It’s been really hard on us and our employees, who are like family. One employee has been with us over 20 years. Six or seven have been with us over 10 and four or five others have worked over four years. Many of our employees will be going with us to our Lee Avenue store.”
The contract the Ways have with the Dairy Queen Corporation for the Highway 31 location is expired. The Ways said DQ doubled the franchise fees from the previous contract, and despite multiple offers, the Ways explained, “We just couldn’t find common ground. We know it’s a landmark, but with all the influx on new restaurants coming to Cullman, the financial risk was too great. Small business owners and large corporations don’t always see things the same way.”
Samantha Way, whose mom bought the store in 1982, said she has grown up there. She has always worked at the Dairy Queen and the loss is difficult for her to talk about.
She shared, "This has been a hard decision for us personally, but we will continue to support our community and hope our community will continue to support us by coming to our other location. There has been lots of praying. Lots and lots of praying. We have faith in God and that he will get us through this.”
There is a clause in the Ways contract with the Dairy Queen Corporation that prevents them from opening another restaurant. The Ways own the Second Avenue lot and building, but the no competition clause limits their options to selling or leasing the property. No future plans for the location have been made.
The Ways do plan on having a good-bye celebration and will be providing details about the plans later.
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