Wednesday, April 17, 2024

From DQ to DB

Longtime Dairy Queen site cleared to begin construction on Dutch Bros Coffee


AZLE — Construction on a Dutch Bros Coffee recently began at the site where the old Azle Dairy Queen served up DQ Dudes and Peanut Parfaits for more than half a century — 164 Industrial Avenue.

While Dairy Queen came to Azle sometime in the early 1960s, the lot previously housed the original Hornet’s Nest, back when students in grades one through 12 attended the historic Rock School located at nearby 300 Roe Street.

A former DQ manager alleged the DQ building itself may have been as much as 90 years old. In more recent memory, the location was subject to extensive plumbing failures and numerous purported building and health code violations. After the business closed to repair a leaky roof in the summer of 2021, Azle’s DQ never again opened its doors. The building was demolished July 27, 2022. The closest Dairy Queen is now on Azle Avenue at Paul Meador Road in Lake Worth, but for many it’s just not the same.

It’s long been said that every small town in Texas has a Dairy Queen. For many, the loss of the local Dairy Queen is just one among many signs that Azle just isn’t the small town it used to be. For several generations of Azle residents, DQ was a place full of memories.

“My husband and I had our first date at Dairy Queen in Azle when we were 17 and 18,” Becca Howell said. “We've been together for 18 years now.”

“(It was) my very first job,” now-grandmother Tami Eason Murphy said.

“I remember riding bikes to get ice cream back in the ‘70s,” Patty Thompson said.

“My mother (JoAnn Harris) this was her go-to place to talk to her friends, buy a steak finger basket and finish off the meal with a DQ cone,” Jimmy Kinder said.

For many in Azle, the Dairy Queen remains in their thoughts, a lasting symbol of nostalgia for old Azle.

 “In the 1960s, there was a rocket ride located near the Dairy Queen sign,” Connie Lynch Ball recalled. “Everyone was excited about the possibility of a rocket landing on the moon and astronauts exploring it, so the rocket ride was perfect for the times. I remember climbing in it, just me, and my mother closing the door. It was dark. The rocket ‘lifted,’ probably a couple of feet, and then slowly went back down. It was so exciting to me! When the door opened, the sunlight hit my eyes and I squinted. There seemed to always be a line. Also, every time my grandparents arrived to visit us from College Station, my grandpa would soon announce that he had to go get gas. It only took one time for me to learn that that was code for he was going to Dairy Queen, and I would eagerly climb into the car! He never disappointed and I always got my Dilly Bar.”

While some Azle residents still lament what was lost, many are excited to see the lot utilized for a new project. With menu item names like “Annihilator,” “Double Torture,” and “9-1-1,” Dutch Bros Coffee is as far from old school as most chains get. The Oregon-based coffee chain was founded in the 1990s and serves both hot and cold drinks, including its line of Rebel energy drinks, juices, boba teas and sparkling sodas.

Dutch Bros Coffee shops are often drive-thru and walk-up only establishments, with little to no indoor seating. In unconventionality, Dutch Bros has undeniably found success, and many Azleites eagerly anticipate no longer having to drive to Lake Worth to get their fix from the store’s resident “broistas.” With proven business practices and rapid growth, Dutch Bros will likely be here to stay in Azle, hopefully giving new generations of future customers the opportunity to make their own experiences and memories. Many residents, young and old, are excited for the wide range of menu items and endless customization options. For others though, the once beloved Dairy Queen can never truly be replaced.

According to Azle City Manager Tom Muir, construction is expected to take approximately four months. Michael Sawyers of Stovall Construction Inc reported an estimated completion date of July 17, 2024.