Old Sonic site to give way to Dairy Queen Grill & Chill

Friday, March 29, 2013
Workmen labor to dismantle the metal framework of the old Sonic restaurant curb service area in Putnam Plaza along Indianapolis Road Thursday. The site has been purchased by Dairy Queen and will become a Grill and Chill business by this summer.

A blizzard of demolition activity at Putnam Plaza is just the appetizer for what's coming to town later this spring -- a Dairy Queen Grill & Chill store.

City Building Inspector Dave Varvel confirmed Thursday what has been rumored for several weeks, that Dairy Queen has indeed purchased the old Sonic property on Greencastle's East Side and will be making its return to Greencastle.

Demolition crews were busy Thursday morning, dismantling the canopies and parking stalls used by Sonic to provide curb service, and trucking away the metal for recycling purposes.

Sonic, after only a few months of operation, closed just before Thanksgiving in 2010, offering the message "See you in the spring" on its marquee for months. Sonic, however, never reopened and the building has been for sale the past two years.

"Dairy Queen has purchased the property," Varvel verified. "All the paperwork has been submitted to the state. I have not seen the final plans, but it's a 'go,' they're definitely coming."

City Planner Shannon Norman also confirmed that Dairy Queen officials told her they had purchased the Sonic site and talked about enclosing the outdoor seating area to provide an inside sit-down dining section.

Dairy Queen officials have told Varvel they plan a Grill & Chill version of their ice cream and sandwich shop, a business that began in Joliet, Ill., in 1940.

The Grill & Chill is DQ's preferred concept for new and renovated full-service restaurants, its website indicates. Stores are larger than the older-style DQ Brazier locations and feature a completely different store design.

In most cases, Grill & Chills offer an expanded menu, including breakfast, GrillBurgers and grilled sandwiches, as well as limited table service (customers still place orders at the counter).

Varvel said the Greencastle location design includes a drive-through, a walk-up window and inside seating.

"The building will be reconfigured a little bit," he added.

Overall, the old Sonic design will disappear, he said.

"It'll be reconfigured to meet the standard corporate (DQ) facade. It'll look practically new, you won't recognize it after the remodel," the city building inspector said.

A crane lifts a piece of the canopy framing from the old Sonic curb service area onto a waiting truck Thursday. The Putnam Plaza parcel has been purchased by Dairy Queen.

While all that work will take a couple of months, Dairy Queen hopes to be up and running locally before the ice cream season hits full stride.

"I assume that means before the warm weather gets here," Varvel noted.

Present plans do not include an addition to the building, although Varvel carefully notes, "no plans are ever final. We'll wait and see how that plays out."

Greencastle previously had a Dairy Queen on the north side of Indianapolis Road, just west of Longcastle Drive, where the Marathon station currently operates.

That location burned -- a fate that had previously befallen the Cloverdale DQ -- in approximately 1988 and never reopened.

Dairy Queen was an early pioneer of food franchising, expanding its 10 stores in 1941 to 100 by 1947, 1,446 in 1950, and 2,600 in 1955.

Dairy Queens were a fixture of social life in small towns of the Midwestern and Southern United States during the 1950s and 1960s.

As of 2010, Dairy Queen had more than 5,700 stores in 19 countries, including 652 locations outside the U.S. and Canada.

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  • I'm so exicted for a Dairy Queen. I remember when Greencastle had one. Welcome back!!!

    -- Posted by Falcon9 on Fri, Mar 29, 2013, at 9:56 AM
  • I also welcome Dairy Queen. I am also a fan of Sonic and visit there in Terre Haute when I can. The problem with Sonic here in Greencastle was poor management and lack of even remotely qualified staff. Dairy Queen please put high standards to your business and stick closely to then and you will be a sucess.

    -- Posted by Trying hard on Fri, Mar 29, 2013, at 11:10 AM
  • I remember when the old Dairy Queen was kinda catty cornered from the Double Decker. But, that was 40-50 years ago--how time flies!!!

    -- Posted by donantonioelsabio on Fri, Mar 29, 2013, at 10:11 PM
  • Yummy!

    -- Posted by DEPAUW11 on Sun, Mar 31, 2013, at 7:39 PM
  • I like Dairy Queen and occasionally bring my kids to Plainfield for a Blizzard. I was not here when Dairy Queen was in town but I fear for another local business, Dairy Castle, whose employees are always friendly. Hopefully, there is enough demand in town for both businesses or this will not really be a gain for the city.

    -- Posted by mgseamanjr on Thu, Apr 4, 2013, at 3:25 PM
  • What were we thinking? Does Greencastle really need another ice cream enterprise? I suspect someone local will be losing out soon.

    Dairy Castle

    Charlie's Chill n Grill

    Green Apple Frogurt

    Sorry but I think we missed the boat on this one.

    -- Posted by kag1261 on Fri, Apr 5, 2013, at 4:37 PM
  • Dairy Castle is a "staple" in the community. It isn't going anywhere.

    -- Posted by kbmom on Sat, Apr 6, 2013, at 8:52 AM
  • Not sure what the difference will be with a DQ vs Sonic .. as far as availability of staff and management .. but I sure hope they stick around longer than Sonic did.

    It's a shame so many of our youth have such poor customer service skills.

    Good luck, Dairy Queen!

    -- Posted by Emmes on Tue, Apr 9, 2013, at 11:00 AM
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