When DQ franchisees in Texas read a recent news story entitled, “Warren Buffett’s Ice Cream Chain Looks to Fix Its Winter Problem,” most did more than scratch their heads.
The President of the Texas Dairy Queen Operators’ Council franchisee group, Larry Newell, sent a letter to Berkshire-Hathaway owner Warren Buffett, pointing out the very significant regional differences in the Texas DQ food system vs. the rest of the land of Dairy Queen.
Texas DQ owners are concerned about national DQ television ads streaming into Texas, touting new “DQ Bakes” sandwiches and snacks, and confusing many loyal Texas DQ guests.
While all Dairy Queen locations serve a consistent “treat” menu everywhere, Texas DQ restaurants do not serve the same hot food, and haven’t for over half a century. Since 1947, the Texas DQ franchisee group has invented, developed, trademarked, served and marketed its own line of branded Texas DQ-only menu, including such statewide favorites as:
- Hungr-Buster quarter pound burger
- BeltBuster double-meat half-pound burger
- Steak Finger Country Basket with DQ Country Gravy and Texas Toast
- The Dude Chicken Fried Steak Sandwich
- Texas T-Brand Tacos plus other Tex-Mex menu favorites
These products and more are served only in Texas DQ locations, and in markets adjacent to Texas licensed to be included on nearby DQ menus in Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
So what exactly is Texas DQ’s beef with the new DQ Bakes program?
While Texas has served its own proprietary, branded hot food for decades, prior to the rollout of DQ Bakes ovens, several hundred non-Texas of locations previously offered either no food or very limited food (mostly hot dogs).
Because of the significant differences in hot food systems, Texas DQ operators do not financially support the national DQ advertising program. The state co-op creates Texas-specific marketing programs by, for and about Texas-only DQ products, and advertises locally in Texas trade areas.
Texas consumers still see, and in many instances, are confused by, DQ’s national ads streaming into Texas via cable and satellite.
To date, Texas consumers have had little response to either the baked sandwiches or snacks. So when the story broke last week that the DQ Bakes program was moving forward, including implied program endorsement by owner Buffett, the TDQOC felt obliged to reach out.
“Every Texas DQ owner supports the idea of bringing new and relevant products to Texas consumers,” Newell said. “But these test items simply have not had the kind of reception claimed in the rest of the system. Frankly, they have been a non-event. That’s why we wrote to Mr. Buffett.
“We simply wanted to clarify for him the distinctions between Texas DQ (Texas Country Foods) and non-Texas (Brazier and Grill & Chill) DQ food systems, let him know we are testing new oven items, but we’re just not getting a good response. Then we invited him down to sample our food and share our Texas hospitality.”
Newell says Texas franchisees are extremely proud of the DQ brand, and its heritage of being a family-oriented food and treat favorite of generations of Texans since 1947.
“In Texas, we’ve never thought of ourselves as a summer only or seasonal brand,” Newell continued. “We wanted Mr. Buffett and Texas consumers to know we’ll continue to serve the great food that can only be found in Texas DQ. Of course, we’re always work hard to serve the changing appetites of Texans and the needs of the communities we serve.
“After all, there’s only one ‘Texas Stop Sign.’ DQ is still the favorite Stop for BeltBusters, Country Baskets and Tex-Mex.”