Biz Buzz: DQ opens Sunday, Burger King is hiring, and entrepreneurs have Monday deadline

After extensive renovations inside and out, Dairy Queen Grill and Chill opens restaurant, drive-thru in east Brainerd, closes restaurant in the Westgate Mall. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

Those looking for a cool ice cream treat on a hot summer day have a new option as Dairy Queen opens its new spot in northeast Brainerd Sunday, July 21.

The DQ Grill and Chill is now in a fully remodeled former KFC near the East Brainerd Mall, where Highway 210 and Highway 25 meet.

Todd and Rhonda Josephson own the DQs in Brainerd and one in International Falls.

Rhonda and Todd Josephson, owners of the Dairy Queen restaurants in Brainerd, pause during a training day Thursday, July 18, at the new DQ Grill and Chill in east Brainerd. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch


The new location in east Brainerd was once the Northwest Bank in the 1970s and became a KFC restaurant in 1999. The building’s original purpose as a banking institution gave the building some unique characteristics, including skylights, which Todd Josephson said they wanted to keep. The space also sets this DQ apart as its one of the largest in the state with more than 4,000 square feet. The average size is about 2,500 square feet. The larger space provides both a larger interior for customers and more space for the crew in the kitchen. The cooler and freezers take up space that used to house the bank’s money vault.

There are a number of updates with the new location, including a rustic fireplace in the restaurant, digital messaging boards for menus, a drive-thru, patio seating and a party room that can be used for everything from birthdays to meetings with a large screen TV, one of three, that can be hooked up for presentations.

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The new DQ offers seating for more than 80 inside with high tables, booths and tables, along with patio seating and a meeting/party room. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

The Josephsons added to their staff, going from about 20-25 employees to 50 and they are prepared to add more. They would have like to have opened about three weeks ago, but with construction projects timetables are often longer than expected. But now with a hot summer still in swing, they are ready to handle walk-ins and drive-thru customers. The location on the east side also had a side benefit, as employees are able to walk or bike to work. And while everyone is finding hiring to be a challenge, DQ seems to benefit from being able to draw applicants. Todd Josephson said the mobility is a benefit of being on the east side that wasn’t the same opportunity by the mall.

The DQ Grill and Chill restaurant in east Brainerd along Highway 210 includes a drive-thru as well as restaurant seating, party room and patio. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

Josephson also noted that DQ is also known as a place to start in the job market for young people and the company takes that opportunity to help people train for their future jobs as part of their message of helping people make better lives. The Josephsons, from Hackensack, bought the DQ franchises here in 2016. They liked the brand and had a connection to it dating back to their college years. Todd Josephson worked as a community banker and his wife worked at DQ out of college in Mankato. Rhonda Josephson went on to work with Dairy Queen Corporate in the 1980s. Then came the family and years later the couple looked at opportunities to invest and said DQ was there.


“It makes you want to invest,” Todd Josephson said, noting the DQ brand and the community part of the company. Now celebrating its 80th year in business, DQ has weathered the ups and downs of many economies.

Now they are excited to start the summer.

“We should be able to take off from here,” Todd Josephson said.

The restaurant has free Wi-Fi, tall tables and booths with chair seating as well, large windows, a stamped concrete patio to seat 16. The restaurant can seat 85. The party room can seat about 30.

Dilly Bars and Buster Bars are made daily in the summer at the restaurant.

Tina Jensen, DQ area manager, said they want the community to feel the new Grill and Chill is their store.


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Molly Wooten, assistant manager, Sandra Quam, supervisor, Tina Jensen, area manager, Rhonda and Todd Josephson, owners, pause outside the DQ Grill and Chill in east Brainerd. Crew members were in for training and staffers were working on final preparation before opening day. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

Along with the new location on the east side of the city, they also have plans to do upgrades at the DQ on Washington Street, which remains a popular stop. Upgrades there are expected to include an updated patio and possible water feature. Upgrades at the Washington Street site have included changes to make service more efficient.

The Dairy Queen in the Westgate Mall is closed. Todd Josephson said they had hoped to turn the mall location into an ice cream stop without the full menu but the requirements for that facelift had a daunting $50,000 estimated cost. Josephson said they’ve already heard from people who miss the mall location, which was part of the mall since its inception. Josephson said the loss of Herberger’s was felt at the mall location. The DQ will now also be able to extend its hours, which were limited in the mall, so they can be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily with the drive-thru open until 11 p.m.

Burger King renovations and work continues and has expanded to a hiring sign now out in front of the restaurant. There have already been a number of comments from Burger King fans who are looking forward to having the restaurant back in the community. More details are in the works for the next Biz Buzz.

Destination Downtown Business Challenge deadline looms. Entrepreneurs who are interested in putting a long held dream into motion, moving a garage-based business into a full-fledged startup or those who have an expansion in mind, can apply for the prize package by answering five simple questions. Go to for more information.

This year, the business challenge will offer each of the three finalists a prize package from the outset. The second twist increased the prize package to $135,000. The grand prize winner will receive a prize package of $65,000, with $35,000 each going to the runners-up. Previous contest winners have three words of advice all based on “Just do it.”

This is the third and final Destination Downtown Business Challenge. The previous two events have inspired multiple people to forge ahead with business plans. The contest provides support to get a business off the ground and help the enterprise into a successful start with professional advice and experienced mentors.Those who submit an application also gain with a chance to take the Going into Business for Yourself class, offered at Central Lakes College.


Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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