CANTON — The village’s Dairy Queen, 51 Gouverneur St., once again has a foundation, four walls, a sub-roofing structure, and its revitalization continues after the site sat charred and vacant for more than a year.
After the Aug. 5, 2018, arson fire that burned out the building and left several people unemployed, Dairy Queen co-owners Gail Crabtree and John Putman began a now two-year process to restore the Canton fast-food staple.
Mid-September is the reopening goal, Ms. Crabtree said.
Providing support “every step of the way,” she added, International Dairy Queen, Minneapolis, the parent company of American Dairy Queen Corporation, approved the architectural design for the site earlier this year, and a Minneapolis representative has visited the site once already, and plans to visit twice more.
A notice of the building’s demolition was filed with the state in December, and Atlantic Testing Laboratories began environmental monitoring procedures for the demolition in January.
With a village building permit then granted, Dairy Queen construction could begin.
Friend Commercial Contracting, Malone, serves as the general contractor, with several subcontractors on board for upcoming internal work. The only COVID-19 pandemic-related setback to the process so far, Ms. Crabtree said, has been the state mandate that paused nonessential construction for about three weeks beginning in late March.
Hoping to employ about 40 people, a mix of full- and part-time positions and up from about 20 employees before the fire, Ms. Crabtree said the hiring process will begin soon, and some former employees have expressed interest in returning.
“We’d like to express our appreciation for all of the assistance from the village of Canton and the equipment we’ve been purchasing that they assisted with,” Ms. Crabtree said. “It’s all new equipment, including a state-of-the-art POS system that should help us to integrate all of the orders that are online and called in, and expedite all the orders we get through drive-in and walk-in.”
The Point of Sale system purchase, among other equipment purchases, is supported by a Community Development Block Grant, a funding application process facilitated by the village over the last two years.
In November 2018, the village board reviewed a grant application that requested funds of no more than $270,000 to assist with equipment purchases for the Dairy Queen rebuild.
By May 2019, the village applied for a $195,000 federal grant through the CDBG Economic Development Program on behalf of the Dairy Queen, and funds were awarded in June last year, disbursed to cover the cost of purchasing new equipment for the restaurant.
An official reopening date or celebration has not yet been planned, though Ms. Crabtree said more details about a potential opening event are forthcoming.