Blacksburg Dairy Queen owners seek to retire
BLACKSBURG — The Dairy Queen restaurant on South Main Street in Blacksburg has seen very few changes since 1973, when the late Claude and Ruby Morris opened its doors.
Ownership shifted hands in 1986, when Christiansburg couple and current owners Gene and Barbara Taylor purchased the fast-food location. Gene Taylor was a car salesman and Barbara Taylor was a hairdresser before they made a career change.
“I was making good money, and my husband was making good money,” Barbara Taylor said. “We decided, ‘Why can’t we invest our money, get it kicked off and work for ourselves?’”
Now, almost 28 years later, the Taylors are making a few changes to the restaurant.
International Dairy Queen Inc. is requiring all of its locations to add the Orange Julius fruit beverage chain — which Dairy Queen owns — to their locations, Barbara Taylor said. That addition will be completed at the Blacksburg location by May.
But that’s not the only change the Blacksburg Dairy Queen will undergo.
Taylor hopes to soon join her husband in retirement, but she can only do that once the building is sold.
The building, to many people’s surprise, has been up for sale for five years, Barbara Taylor said.
“It’s been a huge shock to me that so many people are thinking we’re going out of business,” she said. “It’s been on the market for so long. I’m not sure why people are just now noticing it.”
In fact, Barbara Taylor said a girl approached her while shopping recently and asked why the Dairy Queen was closing.
“The girl said, ‘It won’t be the same without you and your husband,’ ” Taylor said.
Barbara Taylor said they’ve had some interest in the past but didn’t feel like selling the Dairy Queen at the time was the right thing to do.
“That’s one of our children,” Taylor said. “I want to take care of her and baby her. I’m going to be very selective as to who I am going to sell it to. They’re going to have to promise me they’re going to take care of her.”
The Taylors want the fast-food restaurant to remain a Dairy Queen after it’s sold.
“We’ve had a great business here for 28 years,” Barbara Taylor said. “It’s given us a wonderful life and helped us put our children through college.”
In the meantime, Barbara Taylor wants customers to know they’re not going anywhere until the sale happens.
“As long as I own this place, I’m going to keep working,” she said.
Both Gene and Barbara Taylor continue to help out regularly at the restaurant to assist with daily operations. You can still find Gene Taylor behind the grill on some days.
“It’s a warm and fuzzy place, and our customers enjoy us as much as we enjoy them,” Barbara Taylor said. “They love that special attention we give them. We are people-persons.”
As the chance for retirement nears, Barbara Taylor is already thinking about how she’ll spend it.
“There are places I’d love to go; places I’ve dreamed about going,” Barbara Taylor said. “We’re young enough to do it, but we can’t do it if we’re tied to this place.”
Amy Rhodes, the Taylors’ daughter and general manager of the restaurant, is excited for her parents and said they deserved to retire.
“We’re not closing the doors, we’re not in trouble, and we’re not hurting,” Rhodes said.
“They’re tired, and they deserve to retire.”
The Roanoke Times | 381-8627
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