When church let out on Sundays and after youth group on Wednesday nights, Deidre Staten's next stop while she was growing up was usually Dairy Queen for ice cream.
But for Whitfield County residents, dropping by the local Dairy Queen after church or a ball game isn't an option. That will soon change, thanks to the Staten family. Ground was broken earlier this month on a DQ Grill & Chill at 2773 Cleveland Highway in north Whitfield County. The fast-food restaurant is expected to open in mid-October.
With the Staten family bringing Dairy Queen — along with its well-known "Brazier" hamburgers and signature Blizzard ice cream treat — they hope the restaurant becomes a part of the community where people can have a meal and also hang out.
"That's my main goal for our DQ is the community outreach and bringing those youth groups in, because that's my childhood memory of going after church for an ice cream," said Staten, a kindergarten teacher at Beaverdale Elementary School.
The building's design plays into that community feel, her husband Robby Staten said. The front of the building will feature a partially-covered front patio with two televisions. He envisions the restaurant being a destination, especially after high school games, whether it's baseball in the spring or football in the fall.
Whitfield County for years had two Dairy Queens, but the area has been without one since December 2015. That's when the Dairy Queen next to Market Street Shoppes of Dalton off West Walnut Avenue burned to the ground. The other occupied the space that Logan's Roadhouse calls home next to the Dalton Mall.
The Statens are excited about bringing the Dairy Queen brand back to Dalton and Whitfield County, but they are also looking forward to providing another place to eat for north end residents.
Historically, restaurants have been few and far between in north Whitfield County. Mama's, an American-style restaurant, opened this week up the road in Varnell. The only fast-food restaurant in Varnell is McDonald's.
"Not to bad mouth any of the competition on the north end of the county, yes, we need more food choices," said Robby Staten, who by day — and some nights — is a certified public accountant for Staten CPAs in downtown Dalton. "There are a lot of people in the north end of the county who wouldn't mind having another place to grab a treat, have dinner, have breakfast or whatever it may be."
Breakfast at Dairy Queen? Yes. But we're not talking about eating a Dilly Bar or a Peanut Buster Parfait to start your day. You can expect the traditional Southern fare of biscuits and gravy, bacon, sausage, pancakes, hash browns and more. Not all Dairy Queens across the country offer breakfast, and the Statens believe serving the first meal of many people's day will be a boon for business.
"I'm super excited because nobody knows about it," Robby Staten said. "I'm a good, old country boy, so this stuff is right up my alley. We will push breakfast very hard. We hope to serve a ton of it."
The restaurant will have about 75 employees and will seat between 72 and 76 diners. Business hours haven't been set, but Robby Staten expects to open daily between 6 and 6:30 a.m. Closing times will vary, between 9 and 10 p.m. in the winter and as late as midnight in the summer.