ST. CLOUD -- Here comes winter - and there goes Dairy Queen.

The 25th and Division landmark will close in advance of the next Minnesota winter after Sunday, Oct. 27.

Owner Bob Lahr's parents opened the shop in 1949, and he's been in the seasonal treat business his entire career. He says it's always a delight to hear from excited customers as spring approaches.

"It's all about the novelty of us being back," says Lahr. "I don't know how many times I hear, 'Oh, Dairy Queen is open, that's the sign of spring!' Well, we've had blizzards in mid-April the last two years, so I don't know about that. But it's that mindset."

Lahr says it's really never been a tough call whether to close for the winter or not.

"We're fortunate. We generate a year's worth of income in eight months. But, we also do a year's worth of work in eight months," Lahr laughs.

Lahr's employees don't mind hanging up their aprons come fall.

"(Dairy Queen) fits their schedules for any number of reasons," he explains. "I've got a few kids who are athletes - they play winter sports - and it just works beautifully because they can concentrate on that. College students, they slip away in about August and head back to school. We can pretty much count on folks we finish the year with to come back."

"Honestly, we haven't seen fit to change much over the years because that pattern has been maintained."

 

Lahr estimates around 60 percent of Dairy Queen's business is now conducted through the drive-thru window, an addition that arrived with the new building in 2013. He says that's tempted him to try staying open just a bit later.

But not this year.

"My father went to the first of November once, when I was a kid - I'll never forget it - and he vowed, 'never again,'" Lahr laughs.

Dairy Queen will reopen at the end of February.