by Ardeana Hamlin
of The Weekly Staff
BANGOR — Every time Rob Cross of Bangor drove by the building on Broadway, empty since 2012, that had housed the Dairy Queen, something nudged him. So he investigated, found the owner and went from there. He now owns the building and has a Dairy Queen franchise, joining approximately 6,000 Dairy Queen franchise owners worldwide. The Dairy Queen chain is based in Minneapolis and owned by Warren Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway.
“To go by any empty business on Broadway is not good for Bangor,” said Cross, who works fulltime for USDA, and is a former owner of Pat’s Pizza.
He first made contact in the spring of 2013 with the Baird family, who established the franchise in the 1970s and made it a go-to destination for many area families, including Cross’s.
“I used to come here with friends and family after softball games,” Cross said. “Everyone has good memories of Dairy Queen. It was always a good experience, a happy thing to do.”
His favorite Dairy Queen Blizzard flavors? Cookie dough and peanut butter cup.
Since acquiring the building, Cross has been in the process of upgrading the building.
“Every pipe and wire has been taken out of it,” he said. The process includes spray foam insulation, LED lights, and heating and cooling with natural gas, which ensures the building will be energy efficient. The exterior of the building has been painted and a new sign and fencing will be installed. Landscaping also will be done. He has kept the old Dairy Queen sign for sentimental reasons.
“It’s been labor intensive, but it has been smooth,” Cross said. “Jody Lord of Unlimited Builders in Brewer has been running the job site.” He estimates that the interior renovation work is approximately 95 percent completed.
“I try to come by at the end of each day to see what’s been done,” Cross said. He and his son did some of the interior demolition work.
Cross said the Baird family has been tremendously cooperative and supportive during the transfer of ownership and subsequent renovations. Deb Baird, one of the former owners of the business, will continue what she became known for when her family ran the Dairy Queen. She will continue to make and decorate Dairy Queen ice cream cakes. “She is known for that,” Cross said. “I want ice cream cakes to be a large part of the business.”
The new incarnation of the Dairy Queen will have a seating capacity of 28 to 30. It will serve all the Dairy Queen favorites customers have come to expect, such as Orange Julius, Blizzards, fruit smoothies, ice cream cones and sundaes.
Although an opening date has not yet been determined, Cross is aiming for mid-July. He expects to have 20 to 30 employees on the payroll, at least six of them full time. Cheryl Chekovsky of Old Town and Angela Cross, Cross’s wife, will manage the Dairy Queen.
Chekovsky has had a long career with Dunkin Donuts, Cross said.
The new Broadway Dairy Queen will retain its drive-through window service — that window and all others in the building have been replaced with energy efficient ones. The wait staff will wear more technologically advanced head sets which will improve clarity of communication between drive-through customers and staff.
Cross said he wants the new Dairy Queen to be a beneficial part of the community and envisions a day when it might sponsor local baseball teams.
“There’s a lot to be excited about,” he said of his new venture. “I want it to be a place for relaxation and celebration — good events, happy memories.”