Historic Rochester Dairy Queen is up for sale as third-generation owners retire – Rochester Post Bulletin

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ROCHESTER — A tasty piece of the Queen City’s history — the iconic North Broadway Dairy Queen — is up for sale.

The Spratte family has been

serving up cones on North Broadway Avenue since 1947,

just seven years after the first DQ opened in Illinois. Leroy and Leona Spratte sold their grocery store in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to open the Rochester Dairy Queen and start selling soft-serve ice cream cones at 602 N. Broadway.

Many believe that the Spratte’s shop was

the first Dairy Queen in Minnesota.

The history is a bit slushy with Roseville’s DQ also claiming that title. Whether it was technically the first or not, the Sprattes were unquestionably very early ice cream pioneers, when they opened in Rochester.

In 1955, the year that the Dilly bar was introduced, they built a new 600-square-foot shop at 538 N. Broadway.

After 77 years of selling cones, Blizzards, banana splits and other treats, the third generation of Sprattes is looking to sell the franchise and building and retire from the family business. The $1.4 million listing with Realty Growth Inc. was posted this week.


“I’ve loved running the Dairy Queen for decades, but it’s finally time to retire after almost 30 years in business,” said

Tim Spratte

in an interview with freelance journalist Renee Berg.

He took over the business from his father Bob Spratte in 1996 and he operated it with his sister Diana.

The Spratte family gave hundreds of Rochester teens their first jobs over the decades on Broadway. One of the teens was John Wade, who is the president of the Rochester Area Economic Development Inc. organization and a past president of the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce.

“I started working there when I was 13 years old. I started by cutting bananas for a banana split sale in 1975. It was amazing,” remembered Wade.

Wade went on to work at the Dairy Queen for six seasons. It became such a part of his life that he wore a DQ hat in one of his John Marshall High School senior photos.


John Wade wears a DQ hat in one of his John Marshall High School senior photos. He worked at the Dairy Queen on North Broadway Avenue for six seasons.


“I have fantastic memories of that place, because I really grew up there. The Sprattes are an unbelievable family. Just think of how many kids they trained and taught the really good lessons of how to work and how to save. It was just a wonderful, wonderful experience,” he said. “It was a lot of fun. And I can still put a curl on a cone, which is a Dairy Queen trademark.”

Acquiring the building and franchise territory would give a new owner an opportunity to open other DQs. This DQ business is not connected to the two other Rochester Dairy Queens, which have their own franchise territories.

“It does give you rights to a territory within Rochester, if the owner ever wanted to build another store, there is a defined map and area,” said RGI Realtor Bucky Beeman. “One example of an area that I think has potential is in northeast Rochester near Chip Shots. The other example we’ve discussed is in the northwest quadrant by the new Hy-vee store on that side of West Circle Drive. I think there’s potential for someone that’s ambitious and wants to keep growing.”


While the weather is getting warmer and the seasonal Dairy Queen would normally open in the spring, the Sprattes hope that new owners will open the windows this season.


Julia Friederichs, left, of Rochester, and Hope Amundson, of Becker, wait for their orders at the window of the North Broadway Avenue Dairy Queen Thursday, April 18, 2019, in Rochester.

Post Bulletin file photo

Heard Around Rochester - Jeff Kiger.png

Jeff Kiger writes a daily column, “Heard Around Rochester,” in addition to writing articles about local businesses, Mayo Clinic, IBM, Hormel Foods, Crenlo and others. The opinions of my employer do not necessarily reflect my opinions. He has worked in Rochester for the Post Bulletin since 1999. Send tips to [email protected] or via Twitter to @whereskiger . You can call him at 507-285-7798.

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