Michelle Robey and Patricia Nappo started working side-by-side as teenagers. After working at a local restaurant in Center Moriches, each sister went her separate way to an industry that showcased their individual business strengths. Robey gravitated towards bookkeeping, which ultimately led her to a career in accounting and finance. Nappo worked her way up the ranks in the operations sector and spent 20 years working for a multi-unit McDonald’s franchisee. Through this experience, Nappo was nominated for the Ray Kroc Award twice, winning once. From the beginning, the sisters knew their professional paths would cross again, both dreaming to co-own a Long Island restaurant one day.
The sisters heard that American Dairy Queen Corporation (ADQ) was looking to expand in the Long Island market with the DQ Grill & Chill concept and thought it was the perfect time for their professional lives to intersect again.
“The Dairy Queen brand represents family values and has that nostalgic feeling associated with each location,” said Robey. “It was the perfect match for two family members who wanted to go into business together.”
In Suffolk County, where both sisters currently reside, there is only one existing DQ Grill & Chill location. The sisters decided to open their location in Medford, NY, nearly 30 minutes away from Suffolk County, tapping into an open market for the DQ® brand.
“We have been looking to expand throughout Long Island for a while,” noted Mike Mettler, ADQ VP of Franchise Sales and Development “After talking with Michelle and Patricia we could sense their passion, commitment and excitement, not only for the brand, but also for bringing it to their hometown. We are excited to be able to support them both as they live out this life-long dream.”
Robey and Nappo met with representatives from ADQ in 2013 to initially start the franchising process, only to be held up with various city issues including zoning codes, roadway widening and additional unforeseen complications. Due to the excitement and high demand for the new business in Medford, Robey and Nappo worked profusely with city officials to get everything squared away for a quicker opening.
“Many people ask me how I stayed so positive and committed through the process,” said Robey. “Time will pass regardless, but I knew once everything was cleared away I would be owning my own DQ Grill & Chill restaurant with my sister and fulfilling a lifelong dream. It never crossed my mind to give up during the process.”
Robey and Nappo’s excitement has been infectious in the community. The new DQ Grill & Chill restaurant is located at Route 112 in Medford, which is one of the busiest intersections in town, sitting adjacent to the Medford Athletic Complex.
“The community is so excited to have a wholesome place to come and eat with their families while they are out shopping, around town or after their children’s sports games at the Medford Athletic Complex,” said Robey. “We have confirmation from our Councilman that there will be a path built directly from the complex to our DQ location.”
Not only will the new restaurant provide a great place for local community members to gather, but it will also provide many job opportunities in the market.
“Since Patricia and I both started working when we were younger, we are big advocates for hiring teenagers,” mentioned Robey. “So far, we have hired over 90 people, including many between the ages of 14 to 17 years-old. We also hire employees with special needs who have job coaches.”
The sisters’ DQ Grill & Chill restaurant opened on Dec. 31 in Medford, NY right in time to kick off 2018 on a positive note.
“We opened during one of the coldest weeks on record in Medford and our sales still exceeded all expectations,” said Robey. “Three weeks later our sales are still rising. We are very excited for what spring and summer will bring.”
To learn more about franchising opportunities with Dairy Queen, please visit: https://www.dairyqueen.com/us-en/Company/Franchise-With-Us/