By Ellen Fike and Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
It’s usually a good thing when business is booming and customers are lined-up to visit. But in Cheyenne, one local fast food restaurant is so busy that ill-will is being served on the menu along with the food.
The problem is the location. The city’s sole Dairy Queen is located on one of the most busy streets, Pershing Boulevard.
Once COVID shut the lobby down, it’s stayed closed. But it’s more popular than ever. And it’s all drive-thru traffic.
As a result, cars will line up in the left lane of the two-lane eastbound section of the street leaving just one lane open for travel.
Sometimes the line on Pershing surpasses 20 cars, observers say, creating accidents, near accidents, slowdowns, and sometimes altercations.
Just two weeks ago, an accident occurred in front of the popular restaurant and participants in the crash tried to settle the score not through insurance agencies but with their fists.
Local fine arts gallery owner Harvey Deselms took one photo of a recent accident and posted it on Facebook and the response — overwhelming — was indicative of just how much some people are upset about it.
“They do a booming business there, it’s just in an unfortunate spot,” Deselms told Cowboy State Daily on Monday. “I think it would alleviate a lot of the problems if they would open the lobby back up.”
Of the accident, Deselms said he was not laying blame at the Dairy Queen owners, employees, or the city of Cheyenne, but rather irresponsible drivers.
“Someone Will Get Killed”
Cheyenne resident Kayla Parker told Cowboy State Daily that she is “fed-up” with what she called a parking lot in front of Dairy Queen and now refuses to drive on Pershing Boulevard.
“Guaranteed that someone will get killed there,” Parker said. “No one obeys the speed limit, people are flying down Pershing at 70mph and then a bunch of dumbasses are sitting in the middle of the street waiting for their stupid chili cheese dog.”
“I’ve called the police numerous times and get jack squat,” she continued. “My advice is for everyone to call the police department and complain.”
“Disaster Waiting To Happen”
Fellow resident Steve Moore agreed. He said he’s tried to find out the name of the franchise owner but no one will tell him.
He said because the franchise owner, in his opinion, isn’t doing anything about it, dire results are a certainty.
“The franchise owner doesn’t care about Cheyenne,” Moore said. “Someone is going to die in front of their Dairy Queen and they don’t care.”
Moore said the issue can be fixed but only if Cheyenne residents get involved.
“This is a disaster waiting to happen and unless the people stand-up and say no more, there’s going to be a tragedy,” he said.
“We Love Dairy Queen”
It’s not all negative. Dairy Queen has plenty of supporters. There are those who believe the anger over the traffic situation is overblown.
“The DQ has been in that location longer than some of you have been alive. Get in line and enjoy it,” said Gail Tooke on a popular Cheyenne Facebook page.
Donny Terson told Cowboy State Daily that he and his family “love Dairy Queen” and the negativity should be directed at bad drivers, not anything else.
“People just need to go the speed limit and merge when the traffic is backed-up,” he said. “How difficult is that? Buy a blizzard and enjoy summer.”
Then there are the neighbors of the Dairy Queen — an elderly couple who has lived in the house for 52 years.
They moved in before there was a Dairy Queen.
Their daughter, Lynn Dolwick, told Cowboy State Daily that the restaurant has always been a big draw but since COVID, the amount of traffic has been “dangerous.”
“You know, it’s scary when you’re coming down Pershing and you see the back ends of cars sitting out in the middle of the street,” Dolwick said.
“People swerving around them and other times they don’t see the cars until it’s almost too late,” she said. “It’s really dangerous.”
Dolwick said she was emphatic with the owners because there’s little they can do. Plus, they’ve been good to her parents.
“Dairy Queen has great employees and food and they have been accommodating to my parents since their illnesses,” she said.
Rants and Raves
The restaurant is a hot topic on the Cheyenne Rants and Raves Facebook page. Recently, a meme was posted reminding drivers that Pershing Boulevard was a street, not a Dairy Queen parking lot.
The post went viral and featured, like many similar posts, anger, insults, and ad hominem attacks.
Part two of this series, featuring interviews with the Dairy Queen co-owner and the Cheyenne Police Department, will be published on Tuesday, June 7.