Check out the newly-built
Dairy Queen on Seventh Avenue in Marion!
By Jane Claspy Nesmith

For many, summertime means delicious, creamy-cold Dairy Queen soft-serve--in a Blizzard, an ice cream cake, or the original cone with the little curly-cue twist on top. Our family likes to get DQ about once a week, so I was glad to have a chance to check out the beautiful, newly-built Dairy Queen on Seventh Avenue in Marion.

You might have seen the DQ signs around town this spring: “I’ve had some work done--the Original Marion Dairy Queen.” Yes, the Seventh Avenue DQ in Marion has had some “work done”--in fact, she got a complete new building and updated design. And the result is stunning. The once tiny store now has an easy-to-use drive-up window, plenty of parking, and a patio with outside seating. Stone-like bricks and stucco give the shop a sophisticated look, while a slate blue roof catches the eye.

Inside, attractive décor makes this place look like an ice cream cafe. Booths along the windows feature subtle stripes and are lit with brushed nickel pendant lights. There’s plenty of room for sitting and enjoying a treat inside. The best part of the new interior is the cozy little hearth room that features a stone hearth with a gas fireplace flanked by a couple of comfy leather easy chairs.

“People love our hearth room,” says owner Lori Bouska. “It’s where people sit first. Now people have no excuse not to come when the weather is chilly.”

Bouska is proud of the DQ’s new look. Only the third owner of this DQ franchise, she follows in the footsteps of her parents who bought it in the early 1990s. “In its 63-year history, this DQ has only had three owners,” Bouska says.

The new structure took lots of planning; both the DQ headquarters and the City of Marion were involved in creating a look that fit both the company and the city. Work took place in early spring of 2015, and the new DQ reopened the second week of May.

This DQ specializes in soft-serve treats and cold drinks. “There’s no room in our little kitchen for a fryer,” laughs Bouska. But isn’t that why most people go to DQ: for the soft serve? That’s what we tried.
Bouska wanted to make sure we tried the new DQ Bakes items. These bring together warm baked goods with cold soft serve for a dessert that tastes like homemade. We tried the Apple Tart and Triple Chocolate Brownie.

As a chocolate-lover, I knew I’d like the brownie with soft serve, and I was right. The brownie was warm and chewy, and the soft serve--we had vanilla, but it can be served with chocolate--was topped with chocolate crunch and cocoa fudge. A perfect combination. But really, I liked the Apple Tart even better. The warm apple tart--made with tender pastry, apples and a crunchy topping--was complemented perfectly by the cold vanilla soft serve. Both the tart and soft serve were topped with hot caramel sauce. I’m coming back for that one! There’s also a fudge-stuffed cookie a la mode; I’ll have to come back to try that, too.

We also had to try one of DQ’s Orange Julius smoothies. I’m a big smoothie fan--as long as they’re made with real fruit, and these are. We tried the Triple Berry Smoothie, which was cool, sweet, and refreshing. Ours was made with yogurt, but you can also get a “lite” version made without yogurt--perfect for my friends who can’t do dairy. Marion DQ has a huge list of Orange Julius smoothie flavors: strawberry banana, mango pineapple, orange, pina colada, and berry pomegranate--new this summer is strawberry/kiwi.

Everyone knows about DQ’s Blizzards, too, and Marion DQ has those. There are three sizes of Blizzards and a huge list of mix-ins, from M&Ms to Oreos to strawberry cheesecake. You can choose your own mix-ins, or try the Blizzard of the Month. June’s featured flavor was Jurassic Smash: peanut butter cookies with chocolate chip cookie dough.

While we were eating treats, we saw staff making soft-serve novelties. Not all DQs make their own Dilly Bars and Buster Bars, but this one does. You can purchase them at the counter, or go to the big freezer and buy a bag to take home.

Also in that big freezer are DQ cakes in various flavors--traditional vanilla and chocolate, as well as blizzard cakes featuring popular mix-ins like Oreo and cotton candy. Decorations, which come in a wide range of themes from the Cookie Monster to sports equipment to musical notes, can be chosen if you order ahead; Bouska’s mom does the cake decorating. If you’re buying a cake last-minute, you can choose one that’s already made.

One satisfied customer said as she left, Blizzard in hand, with her mom and big sister, “you guys make the best ice cream!” I agree. I’m going to come back for some delicious soft-serve in the hearth room soon.

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