by Tom HARALDSEN
WOODS CROSS—We’ve all heard of “marriages made in Heaven,” but can one be made at a Dairy Queen? If you get to know Scott and Julie Thompson, you might begin believing that as well.
The Thompsons are owners/operators of two Dairy Queen restaurants, including the newest one located at 527 South 700 West in Woods Cross. They met when they worked as teenagers at a Dairy Queen in the old Ogden Mall more than 30 years ago, got married and have raised a family in the DQ world. When Julie’s parents, George and Ann Nichols, took ownership of the Centerville DQ (400 W. Parrish Lane) in 1990, she watched as they turned that store from one of the worst performing in Utah to the best. Through the Nichols’ hard work and perseverance, the Centerville DQ set sales records in Utah and has been going strong ever since.
“Mom and Dad started making retirement plans in 1998, and they decided it would be best to sell the store,” Julie recalled. “Rather than see it sold to strangers, they offered it to Scott and me. So he quit his job at UPS and I left mine as a respiratory therapist at the University of Utah and we took it over.”
That was 20 years ago as of Oct. 1. The legend of the turnaround in Centerville has radiated throughout the Dairy Queen system. The Nichols and now the Thompsons have a solid code of ethics and business practices they live by, including keeping both stores closed on Sundays. Scott said, “that has actually added to our customers’ loyalty. They respect our wishes not to be open on Sundays.”
When they had the opportunity to expand to a second store, the location adjacent to the Randall Brothers’ Phillips 66 station seemed the right spot. The store, previously an A&W, has been rebuilt, with lots of windows for natural lighting and a bright, new interior. Customers coming into the new store “don’t even recognize it from before,” Julie said, “but we’re getting a lot of compliments about the décor.”
And for the store’s food and service as well. The Thompsons’ dedication is something employees recognize as well as customers. The Woods Cross store was voted by DQ operators in September as the “Fan Friendliest” store in the Southwest Region. Julie says, “It’s important for all Dairy Queens to have owners in the stores regularly. So you’ll find us in one or both of our stores almost daily.”
Scott said it has felt a big strange at times “not being in Centerville as much, but we’re glad to be splitting our time between the two stores.”
“Our goal has always been to have stores that are family-friendly, where customers can enjoy themselves and a great meal and great value,” Julie said. “Hey, you can bring your family to a truck stop and get your tank filled up and yourself filled up at the same time! What a deal.”