Damon Draught and William Dailey open Rhode Island’s first DQ Grill & Chill after a year of serving together in Afghanistan
By Sydney Gitelis
It only took one lunch and a well-timed commercial for Damon Draught and William Dailey to make a business decision that would impact the rest of their lives. In the summer of 2016, the two Army buddies met for a quick bite in Rhode Island. They decided to take advantage of being in the same state, a rare occasion since returning home after serving together in Afghanistan for a full year. A Dairy Queen commercial aired during lunch and the two of them got to talking about their next business opportunity, opening a DQ Grill & Chill location in Rhode Island.
Draught was already familiar with the Dairy Queen model, with two units in New York. He opened his first DQ/Orange Julius location in Watertown, New York in December 2013 and a second store, this one a DQ Grill & Chill restaurant, in November of 2015 in Evans Mills, New York.
“My military training helped me a lot with my first two units, specifically learning how to be a team player,” said Draught. “Every Blizzard Treat should be the same, no matter what DQ location you go to in the world, so it’s important to follow how that Blizzard Treat should be made. It’s important to lead your managers and crew members to learn the right methods and keep everything consistent.”
Draught and Dailey received almost identical military training when serving together for a year, during what the Army calls a “Complete Life Cycle.” The duo began their combined training with a three-week session at Fort Drum, before traveling back to the Garrison on Fort Drum and went on to do a four-week deployment at Fort Polk. A month after training, both Draught and Dailey were deployed to Afghanistan.
At that crucial lunch once they were back in the states, Draught and Dailey noticed that Rhode Island did not have as many Dairy Queen locations to choose from. In fact, there was only one Dairy Queen restaurant in the entire state, a DQ/Orange Julius location in Providence Place Mall, leaving a lot of opportunity to spearhead growth throughout the state.
“After that lunch, we continued to talk about opening a DQ Grill & Chill restaurant in Rhode Island because of the population size in the area, and the fact that there were no other options in the state,” said Draught. “We requested the FDD so that Will could become more familiar with the concept. We also traveled to a couple of different locations, including both of my stores in Watertown, New York.”
After doing due diligence on the market options with a site survey and utilizing population data, Draught and Dailey decided on a location at the corner of Atwood and Phoenix in Cranston, Rhode Island for their DQ Grill & Chill location. The business partners are currently in the process of hiring a full-time manager, two full-time assistant managers and day-to-day employees. In total, they plan to add nearly 115 jobs to the market to operate the 72-seat restaurant and drive-thru window.
“The Dairy Queen concept will always stand out as a brand because the franchise has been around for such a long time,” said Draught. “My advice to all veterans is to start with the FDD report, for any franchise, and work with their financial and legal advisors to develop a business plan. The Dairy Queen brand has been great to get involved with as a veteran and we are so excited to get up and running in Rhode Island.”
For more information about Dairy Queen franchising visit: https://www.dairyqueen.com/us-en/Company/Franchise-With-Us/.