By MIKE EDDLEMAN
Winter may be a memory as spring nears, but the Blizzard is on its way.
Developers for Liberty Hill’s new Dairy Queen have their sights set on a late-April opening, should construction continue to go as planned.
“If we can keep getting nice weather, everything will keep going smooth and we can get it knocked out,” said construction Superintendent Kyle Preston.
The plan was to finish out the underground work and slab this week, with walls going up as early as the beginning of Spring Break.
The restaurant, owned by Hometown Restaurant Group (HRG) in Lindale, will be 3,200 square feet with inside and outside dining space. It will be the fourth Dairy Queen in Central Texas for the group, with two already in Austin and one in Round Rock.
The choice to come to Liberty Hill was easy once they visited the community, according to Ashley Gary with HRG.
“We were entertaining multiple communities around this area, and when I came down here I fell in love with the community,” she said. “You can see the growth happening in this community and it is very reminiscent of where we’re from in Lindale. We visited multiple times. It was the perfect fit for us and exactly what we were looking for.”
Seeing the community spirit in Liberty Hill was part of what made the decision easy.
“We like to find tight-knit communities,” Gary said. “Our name is Hometown Restaurant Group, we want this to be your hometown Dairy Queen. That’s the whole premise behind our group.”
Because of that desire to become part of a close community, the plan is to personalize this restaurant as much as possible for local diners.
“One of the things we try to do with the inside of our Dairy Queen is make it feel like Liberty Hill’s Dairy Queen,” Gary said. “You’re going to see a Liberty Hill school flag and Panther territory. We want people to come in and see their Sunday school teacher there, their friends from high school. It’s not going to feel like big-time corporate Dairy Queen.”
The process of making Liberty Hill’s Dairy Queen a reality was as easy as the decision to come to town. Gary said they worked closely with Economic Development Director Lance Dean. All of the planning and work with city staff was smooth, she said.
“The City has been extremely helpful and the process has been flawless,” Gary said. “This community wants to see growth and they want to see us here, so there haven’t been any challenges with the City.”
The company did not negotiate any incentives with the City or Economic Development Corp.
Dairy Queen expects to employ 70 when it opens.
“We’ve already started hiring, so that has not been challenging,” Gary said. “It has been very easy so far.”
The effort has already begun to build partnerships with local clubs and organizations, including youth sports.
“That’s very close to our partners’ hearts,” she said. “They want us to be involved with the kids.”
One way HRG kicks off this spirit of community involvement is an opening fundraiser.
“We host a friends and family night, and we pick an organization in the school – typically it’s band – and we allow them to sell tickets,” Gary said. “They get 100 percent of those ticket proceeds and usually about $2,000.”
The tickets sell for $5. There is a lunch session and dinner session and a limited menu is offered, as part of the restaurant’s training process, but diners get five menu choices plus an ice cream treat.
“You also get a sneak peak at the restaurant before we open,” Gary said.
The menu for Liberty Hill’s Dairy Queen will be what diners are accustomed to – burgers, tacos, salads, chicken and steak fingers – with an extensive variety of ice cream treats. And Gary promises all that food will come with a smile.
“We use fresh ingredients,” she said. “Our produce and our meat are delivered multiple times a week so you are going to get fresh, quality food. And when it comes to service, you’re going to get greeted warmly when you walk in. They are going to make you feel welcome.”