My hometown of Odebolt is a small farming community in western Iowa. So when people ask where I’m from and they don’t know where it is, I’ll say, “It’s between Storm Lake and Denison.” And then they’ll usually say something like, “Oh, Denison has the BEST Dairy Queen! We always have to stop there when we’re in the area!”
And it’s true. Now maybe you're thinking, well there are a lot of Dairy Queens, this one can't be any different than all the rest. And Denison, Iowa is a town of 8,300 people with plenty of restaurant options. Yet this one restaurant stands out as a favorite not just for the locals, but as a destination for anyone even remotely in the area.
Something about the Denison Dairy Queen has made it legendary. It's the kind of place you want to experience every chance you get. Even though it’s so small you can’t even sit inside to eat...because there are no tables. Even though all the seating is outdoors and they’ve had to expand their seating area two times to handle the crowds. Even though the place is always packed...even on rainy days.
So what's the secret behind this locally-owned, seasonal, ice-cream-and-burger joint that makes it so special?
Maybe it's the specialty items on the menu like their signature Denison Burger and the Iowa Deluxe, made from the best local beef (trust me, these are some of the best burgers you'll ever sink your teeth into). Maybe it's because this Dairy Queen is rumored to use ice milk in their frozen treats instead of ice cream and there’s just something extra good about that. Maybe it's because the owner, who we affectionately call Dairy Queen Dave, recognizes he serves a farming community and will go above and beyond to make sure farmers can get a hot meal and tasty treat, even if they show up (or call in) at closing time. Maybe it's the exceptional service that Dave and his staff work so hard to provide, even when the line is out the door. Maybe it's because it's only open eight months out of the year, so you want to take every opportunity you have to get in on this goodness during the open season. Maybe it's because no matter when you stop, you always seem to run into someone you know.
But maybe why we really love this place is because of what the Denison Dairy Queen represents: everything we love about a small town. It's this combination of all the right things that makes you walk away with a feeling that life really is good...that we really are living the American dream...that being part of a rural community really is something special. And that’s exactly what keeps us coming back.
>> Danna Larson, Rural Revival Founder
What's the 'Denison Dairy Queen' of your area?
Share in the comments and we just might feature it in a future blog post!