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