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Crain's Chicago Business: Demand For Dairy Queen Enables Brand To Expand In Illinois
Crain's Chicago Business: Demand For Dairy Queen Enables Brand To Expand In Illinois

Dairy Queen plans to open 30 to 35 stores in the Chicago area within the next five years.

Dairy Queen® plans to open 30 to 35 more stores in the Chicago, Illinois area within the next five years, with room for up to 50, targeting primarily locations in the city and suburban Lake and Cook counties.

The ice cream and burger chain, which has about 145 restaurants in the metro area, hopes to start opening the next round of restaurants in the first half of 2017, said Jim Kerr, the company's vice president of U.S. franchise development.

“Our products appeal there, we just need to be more convenient to a lot more people,” Kerr said. “Our interest in Cook and Lake is because of the density, and much of the area is just not served by our current footprint.”

The brand has yet to identify any specific locations for its new stores, though Kerr said there's demand for Dairy Queen in suburbs like Oak Park, Evanston and Rosemont, as well as in several neighborhoods in the city.

Dairy Queen, a 75-year-old chain founded in Joliet and now based in Edina, Minn., has 269 stores in Illinois, making it among the top franchised restaurants in the state.

For the last decade, its primary growth vehicle has been its DQ Grill & Chill® stores, an updated version of a traditional DQ® that combines its heritage treats business with fast-food items such as burgers, chicken strips and hot dogs.

Today, just more than a third of its 6,700 global restaurants are Grill & Chill stores, including about 20 in the Chicago metro area.

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