“It's a tough business,” Jones said. “You have to be involved in the business and you have to be closely tied to your guests.”
Fritts Family Farm dates to 1950. The family turned down repeated requests to develop the property in the 1970s, with offers ranging from an air park to a golf course.
Fritts' grandson, Jason, now oversees the operation and said the family began to entertain commercial development in the early 2000s with the first stores being a Lowe's Improvement Center and a Home Depot.
“We didn't really realize what would happen with that,” Fritts said. “Then we got a Starbucks, a Chilis and a Chick-fil-A. We're interested in creating a cool place.” Dairy Queen, Fritts said, fits that approach.
Jim Kerr, vice president of franchising for Dairy Queen, said the company is adding about 70 restaurants a year.
“I can't tell you how surprised I am at how much pent-up demand there is for Dairy Queen,” Kerr said. “Every time we've opened up, it's been an amazing story. I've gone to openings with 40 to 50 cars lined up in the driveway.”
At a glance
Key dates in Dairy Queen history