By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
After more than two years of being closed, the popular Cheyenne Dairy Queen’s lobby has finally reopened, its owner told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.
While a fast food restaurant reopening its lobby might not be interesting or newsworthy to most people, the Cheyenne Dairy Queen is not a typical burger and ice cream shop.
Because the lobby has been closed, it hasn’t been uncommon to see a line stretching from the restaurant’s drive-thru window and snaking all the way around the building and spilling — sometimes more than 30 cars deep — onto Pershing Boulevard, one of the busiest streets in the city.
As a result, the restaurant and the police department have been hammered by angry citizens demanding something be done about it because of safety concerns.
“Guaranteed that someone will get killed there,” Kayla Parker told Cowboy State Daily. “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.”
Popular memes circulating on local social media channels, chastise drive-thru-goers for clogging a main artery and turning the street into a game of bumper cars.
Fist-fights have reportedly broken out in front of the restaurant too as upset motorists have either slammed into each other or come close.
Like Riding A Bike
Dairy Queen co-owner Randy Filbin told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that reopening the lobby was like it was like riding a bike — with things running pretty much the way they did before the lobby was closed by COVID-19.
“I’m doing a softer opening right now, because we’ve still got a lot of people training and we don’t want to overwhelm them,” Filbin said. “I’m not fully staffed yet, but we were close enough that I thought we could handle the lobby being opened, as long as we didn’t make a big announcement of it.”
Posts on Cheyenne-centric social media groups announced the lobby’s opening, which Filbin was not surprised by. He does not expect the lobby’s reopening to stay quiet for long.
Dairy Queen employees saw around 75 to 80 people come through the lobby on Wednesday, which is a few more than Filbin was expecting.
“It felt kind of good, having it open again,” he said. “It gives people an opportunity to go work in a different spot after being stuck in the same place and doing the same actions day after day.”
But don’t worry, the drive-thru was still busy the whole day.
One restaurant-goer told Cowboy State Daily she was relieved the lobby was opened but still had concerns about the volume of traffic the restaurant receives.
“Every day it’s like Target on Thanksgiving Eve,” Rita Mallsen said. “The only difference is no one is trying to steal TVs.”
Filbin has hesitated to reopen the lobby since the COVID-19 pandemic struck two years ago due to low staff numbers. The drive-thru has typically been the more popular option anyway, so he, his father and their business partner decided to keep the lobby closed until they could get their staff up to a higher number.
According to Cheyenne Police Department spokeswoman Alex Farkas, 10 traffic incidents occurred in the Dairy Queen area in the last year. Five of those occurred at the Dairy Queen address itself and five happened near the restaurant between Duff Avenue and Pershing Boulevard.
Of those 10 incidents, one was directly related to the drive-thru. A collision took place as a driver was turning into the location.
There were two rear-enders at the Dairy Queen, one of which involved a single vehicle backing into something and another related to a driver being under the influence.
The police department also received a traffic complaint from the Dairy Queen address on June 2 regarding speeding and reckless driving.