SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – Drive west through downtown Salem and as you come down the bridge at a fork in the road on the left sits the Salem Dairy Queen. It sits right up against the road where kids lick their cones and spoon out their blizzards as cars and trucks move past.
But it’s not just any Dairy Queen; the Salem location has a historic distinction and is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year. There should be a historical marker alongside the original ellipses that still hangs on the side because when it opened in 1949, it was the first DQ in Ohio.
Joe Miller and his mother Edith run the shop. The Millers bought it from the original owner in 1956 and have run it ever since. They once lived in the white house next door and Edith still works there.
“They call me Mrs. Dairy Queen,” Edith said. “I think we’ve been blessed that we still have customers that are still coming here since we bought the store 58 years ago.”
The Salem Dairy Queen remains a testament to the old days. The square footage is the same which means the inside work area is a tight squeeze for four people. The sliding service windows are original as is the walk-in freezer with the latched wooden door.
Joe Miller has signs for the ice cream shop dating back to the 1950s listing popular sweet treats that are still available today such as the ice cream sandwich, milkshakes and sundaes.
Gordon Dawes is a faithful customer. On this day he came twice.
“I always get a chocolate shake. I have been here once already but me and my wife went for dinner tonight, so I’m getting a banana split this time,” Dawes said.
Not everything at the shop is traditional. About 75 percent of what goes through the window are modern-day blizzards. But there are still hot fudge sundaes and curly topped cones and for little Gracie Weingart there is nothing like simple vanilla to bring a smile to her face.
Joe Miller told said that in the 1950s Albert Covelli approached his father Howard and asked him to invest in a new restaurant chain – McDonald’s. Howard Miller said no and that his Dairy Queen was enough.