Top Five: Dairy Queens in Indy

Inner-city Indianapolis is loaded with quaint little ice-cream stands. Just look for the big red oval.

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The mom-and-pop ice cream stands of small-town Indiana get a lot of love, and rightly so. Often overlooked, though, are the quaint little Dairy Queen stores that dot city neighborhoods around Indianapolis. And that is not right.

While they all share the same name and similar franchise arrangements, each is individually owned by small-businesspeople. From walk-ups to “barn-style,” many have a distinctiveness all their own, and their variety showcases the evolution of the DQ brand over the past several decades. Some are important neighborhood anchors, sticking around even when their local communities have fallen on tough times. Here are our five faves:

1. Fountain Square
1024 Fletcher Ave., 317-624-1024
11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Mon.–Sat.; noon to 10:30 p.m. Sun. (Mar. 1 to Oct. 31)

Built: 1953 (remodeled in 2011)
Owners: Marlene Glanzman-Jacobs and Neal Jacobs (since 2010)
Signature item: Dilly Bar, pictured. Fountain Square is the rare DQ that hand-dips its own, often fresh each morning.

One of the oldest DQs in town, the business was closed for about six months before the current owners purchased and rehabed it. “A lady from the neighborhood hugged me when she heard we were reopening,” says Glanzman-Jacobs.”If I had a penny for every time I heard someone say, ‘I used to come here with  my grandmother,’ I’d have a jar full of pennies.”

2. Christian Park
3826 English Ave., 317-357-9455
11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Mon.–Sat.; noon to 10 p.m. Sun. (Mar. 1 to Oct. 31)

Built: 1953
Owner: Michael Spears (since 1976)
Most popular item: Oreo Blizzard

This is another of the oldest DQ locations in Indianapolis. “I keep the building up real nice and neat and everything,” says Spears. “The community appreciates me being here. The look forward to me opening every spring, especially the local little league.”

3. Crown Hill
3740 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St., 317-920-1953
10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Mon.–Sat.; noon to 10 p.m. Sun. (roughly Valentine’s Day to Thanksgiving)

Built: 1953
Owner: Tom Clark (since the late ’90s)
Signature item: Dilly Bar. As at the Fountain Square location, these are hand-dipped. And when you buy six of them, you get 10 for the same price.

Another of the oldest DQs in the city, the stand overlooking Crown Hill Cemetery is a popular late-summer hangout for returning Butler and Marian students. Owner Clark—who, with five Indy locations in his portfolio, calls himself The DQ King—says most of his business here comes from vehicle traffic. “Not very many people live behind me,” he says, “and across the street they’re all dead.”

4. Rhodius Park
2920 W. Morris St., 317-241-9000
10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Mon.–Sat.; noon to 10:30 p.m. Sun. (year-round)

Built: 1964
Owners: Neal Jacobs, pictured, and Marlene Glanzman-Jacobs (since 2013)
Signature item: Ice cream cake, with flourishes by in-house decorator Melissa Sexton

The near-southwestside location was closed when the husband-and-wife pair bought it last year, and this is their first summer in operation since cleaning it up. “Ninety percent of the people who walk in are so excited that we’re here,” says Glanzman-Jacobs. “It’s cute as pie on the inside now, and we can hardly keep the cakes on the shelves.”

5. South Broad Ripple
2104 E. 52nd St., 317-253-3544
11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Mon.–Sat.; noon to 10 p.m. Sun. (March 1 to Thanksgiving)

Built: 1958
Owner: Tom Clark (since early 2000s)
Most popular item: Milkshake

Proximity to the Monon Trail makes this SoBro spot a popular refreshment stop for bicyclists, which exlains the relatively high volume of drink-on-the-go milkshakes (while Blizzard’s dominate sales at most DQs). “This is a neighborhood business, not fast food, and I like that part of it,” says Clark. He’s in good company: Billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owns the DQ brand, and Clark once got to meet him at a franchisees’ convention.z

 

More Indy-Area DQ Locations

Little Flower: 3906 E. 10th St., 317-353-9397
Irvington: 6245 E. Washington St., 317-357-1141
Southport: 1930 Southport Rd., 317-783-1309
Washington Square: 9008 E. 10th St., 317-898-5687
Lawrence: 4815 N. Franklin Rd., 317-545-1710
Garden City: 7515 Rockville Rd., 317-271-9193
Ravenswood: 7116 N. Keystone Ave., 317-255-9697
West Side: 6320 W. 38th St., 317-293-3764
Clermont: 8959 Crawfordsville Rd., 317-291-5770
Greenwood: 601 W. Main St., 317-888-0282
Zionsville: 340 S. 1st St., 317-873-3751
Fishers: 10560 E. 96th St., 317-585-0517

More tasty ice-cream coverage from around Central Indiana appears in the July 2014 issue of IM, including dining editor Julia Spalding’s homage to her hometown Dairy Queen and an Indy fro-yo roundup.

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