Dairy Queen's best-kept secret is out.
The Moorhead, Minnesota, location is the subject of a lot of publicity this week, and it might be more attention than the corporate headquarters in Edina is comfortable with.
Operating under a franchising contract signed nearly 70 years ago, this DQ has plenty of wiggle room to do things its own, non-corporate way.
"Corporate would love for us to disappear, no question about that," owner Troy DeLeon told Serious Eats last month.
The website says the restaurant is a throwback to the early, early days of DQ, allowing customers to pick from a wide variety of items they won't see at modern "Grill and Chill" outlets – including the "Monkey Tail," a chocolate-covered frozen banana created at the store decades ago.
Also on the restaurant's menu are "Chipper Sandwiches," vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies and dipped in chocolate, and Mr. Malties, chocolate malt on a stick that was a DQ mainstay in the '50s.
Over the decades the shop has added its own twist to the DQ formula, with original owners Bob and Phyllis Litherland known to whip up their own toppings from scratch.
And when the chain discontinued cherry, blueberry, butterscotch, pineapple, raspberry and banana toppings for its sundaes, the Moorhead eatery kept making and selling them.
It's also seasonal, staying open only from March through October, and doesn't have any indoor seating, a hallmark feature of the original "walk-up" Dairy Queen stores, according to its website.
Frosty relations with the home office
The store's shunning of the sort of corporate directives franchisees are usually subject to is apparently a bit of a thorn in Dairy Queen's side.
The Associated Press reports that lawyers have unsuccessfully urged DeLeon to enter into a potentially lucrative new contract with the mothership, while the owner says HQ would like to see the Moorhead store "melt away."
A company spokesman told the news service that while they appreciate its popularity, they can't promote the Moorhead store partially because it falls outside the dining experience DQ fans across the country are looking for.
Still, you can get all the Dairy Queen staples at the Moorhead location, including Blizzards, waffle cones and Orange Julius drinks.
Speaking of staples, the store maintains that the very first Dilly Bar was made right between its own four walls in 1954 by the Litherlands, something DeLeon told Serious Eats the corporate offices won't acknowledge.