Friday, February 15, 2013

The Queen is gone, Dairy Barn has opened

Posted By on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 7:23 AM

Brett Williams has mastered the art of the soft-serve swirl cone.
  • Brett Williams has mastered the art of the soft-serve swirl cone.

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Kansas City's oldest existing Dairy Queen location, operated for over four decades by John and Esther McMurray (yes, she of the tallest beehive hairdo east of the Paseo) at 2535 Independence Avenue, closed two years ago. Last week, it reopened with a new tenant and a new name: Dairy Barn.

Muscular Brett Williams - real-estate investor, wrestling coach, and ice-cream entrepreneur - has been working on the property for nine months to create a venue that will sell both pizza - by the slice or whole pies - and soft-serve treats, including milkshakes, sundaes and dipped cones.

Williams purchased at least half of the equipment that the McMurrays used during their long tenure at this location, which has almost iconic status in the Northeast: The business opened July 4, 1952, as the fifth Dairy Queen in the Kansas City metro. Since the first four Dairy Queens have been razed, the red-and-white building on Independence Avenue remains a relic of Kansas City's soft-serve history. Esther McMurray, who began working in this building as an employee in 1964 (she later bought the business from the original owners), achieved official royal status when she was honored by the neighborhood and then-Mayor Funkhauser in 2009. The McMurrays later lost their DQ franchise.

Brett Williams and his wife, Janelle, are residents of the historic Northeast and are active in the community (Brett coaches wrestling for Della Lamb Community services).

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