The owners of Estevan's Dairy Queen franchise have finally received the green light to proceed with repairs to the restaurant, nearly six months after a fire caused extensive smoke damage to the interior.
Co-franchisee Louise Vandenhurk said they have finalized the amount they will receive from their insurance company, and now they have hired a contractor, Regina-based Century West. The contractor has already constructed a Dairy Queen in White City.
Century West started work on December 3.
“We're excited,” said Vandenhurk. “To get that general (contractor) is very exciting for us, because in our province right now, it's very hard to find somebody who is available. Century West has made themselves available, and being that they have already built a Dairy Queen, they're already in an advantage, because they do have the contacts that we need.”
The fire happened in mid-June. While the exterior of the building has been saved, the interior suffered significant smoke damage. Cement floors and rafters are all that remains inside the building.
The insurance claim was the biggest hurdle. The insurance policy stated that the Dairy Queen needed to have bids from three contractors, and the Ontario-based insurance company couldn't grasp the contractor shortage that exists in Saskatchewan.
There were also delays with the engineering.
If they would have gone outside of the province for a contractor, their costs would have doubled, and there would have been more delays with the contractor.
Once the repairs are finished, Estevan will be home to a 2.0 Dairy Queen, which is the newest design for a Dairy Queen. Previously, Estevan's Dairy Queen was a DQ Grill and Chill. There will be some minor changes to the menu, and a new look for the interior, with new tiles, colours and pictures.
There will be some minor changes in the seating design.
“For our customers who come into the store, they may not see a whole lot of change in the front, but for us who will be working in the back, there will be some dramatic changes back there with our freezers and our kitchen,” said Vandenhurk.
They needed more space, including freezer space, so it will be easier for the employees.
An Orange Julius was incorporated into the restaurant in 2011, and there will be some changes to the Orange Julius menu. Vandenhurk said they were in the process of making those changes when the fire happened.
The restaurant will also have to hire new employees. They released their staff after the fire. Some of them had been with the franchise for four years.
“We were rolling really well,” said Vandenhurk. “We were working as a great team, and now we'll have to rebuild that team.”
Some staff members have said they want to come back, but there will be some new employees, too, so training will have to happen before the restaurant can reopen.
It is hoped that the rebuild can begin as soon as possible, Vandenhurk said. A tentative opening date has yet to be established. They will be open in 2013, she said, and they hope it will happen prior to the summer, which is typically their busiest time of the year.