Local Dairy Queen reopens March 1

Photo by Chalice Keith/TheNews

Story by Paige Effinger, Contributing writer

Dairy Queen is reopening for the season March 1, which many locals have attended since the location opened in 1949.

The seasonal opening of Dairy Queen is considered a tradition in Murray.

“We don’t have to advertise, people just know we open up on March 1,” said Leslie Kemp, co-owner of Dairy Queen.

Kemp said opening day is one of the franchise’s biggest days. Even with bad weather, citizens of Murray still attend the opening.

“I think I waited in the cold rain for about 45 minutes, but it’s just so fun and such a Murray tradition. I’ll definitely be there this year, too,” said Shannon Spangler, junior from Smryna, Tennessee.

The Murray Dairy Queen annual location opening is special to people outside of Murray as well.

“People come from all over,” Casey Bouley,  Dairy Queen employee, said. “People come from Paris, people come from Benton, people come from weird places in Tennessee and further east in Kentucky just to come eat at our Dairy Queen because our ice cream is much different than other Dairy Queens.”

Kemp said this Dairy Queen is unlike most other Dairy Queens in the country, which is what makes it so unique. The Murray franchise is a walk-up instead of a “chill and grill” like most other franchises.

“There are only four or five left in the country that still operate like we do,” Kemp said.

She said there are a few notable differences with recipes and menu options between this Dairy Queen and others, such as the ice cream and chili recipes.

“There is a higher sugar content from what I understand,” Bouley said.

Kemp said this Dairy Queen also uses a different chili recipe.

She said one of the more obvious differences of this Dairy Queen is the lack of menu options.

“We offer ice cream, cakes, hot dogs, Orange Julius and chili, but we do not have any of the fried food options,” Kemp said.

She said there have only been three owners since it opened in 1949, and they have all been local Murray citizens.

I like this Dairy Queen more than the ones at home because it’s much cheaper and it has an old timey, small town atmosphere,” Spangler said.

Bouley said the owners, Hal and Leslie Kemp, are excellent  people to work with and have a great appreciation for Murray.

“They are wonderful people. They do their best to help out everybody, and not even just the employees, the community,” Bouley said.