Dairy Queen expected to reopen this summer with new owners, renovations

Nick and Jacque Doll, and TJ and Amy Rutten, of Staples, bought the Dairy Queen in Wadena. The Dolls own the Dairy Queens in Staples and Little Falls, and Amy Rutten and Jacque Doll are sisters.

Dairy Queen exterior with new owners holding sign stating "opening summer of '23."
Nick and Jacque Doll, and TJ and Amy Rutten, are married couples from Staples and the new co-owners of the Dairy Queen in Wadena. From left to right – the Ruttens: Colt, Amy, TJ, Lauren, Ben and Eli; and the Dolls: Olive, Nick, Jacque, Oskar and Otto. (And pictured, far right, is neighborhood acquaintance Brennan Sonenstahl.)
Contributed / Jacque Doll

WADENA — Those wanting a taste of summer will have to wait just a little longer.

The Dairy Queen was recently purchased but it won’t reopen until summer due to renovations.

“It's been open pretty sporadically over the last couple of years due to Covid,” said Nick Doll, one of the four new co-owners of the Wadena location. “We're hoping that we'll be able to get open this summer. Early summer would be nice, but I think it's more likely to be late summer.”

Nick and Jacque Doll, and TJ and Amy Rutten, are married couples who last month bought the restaurant at Ash Avenue Northwest and First Street Northwest; the women are sisters.

“We are so excited to open the DQ back up for the town of Wadena,” Jacque Doll said. “Our mission is to make positive memories for all that touch DQ!”


Nick Doll is ordering new restaurant equipment (that can take up to 24 weeks to arrive) and other materials for the remodeling project, which will include a drive-up menu and pickup window, according to the Wadena Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Everyone has great memories coming to the DQ and we can't wait to create more for this town,” said Jacque Doll, who with her husband owns the Dairy Queen restaurants in Staples and Little Falls.

Nick Doll said, “Amy is going to be the one that is kind of the person in charge of the location in Wadena. And we're going to kind of follow her lead on her vision on what she kind of sees there.”

Amy Rutten is a registered nurse and her husband is a software engineer, but they wanted to go into business with the Dolls, according to Nick Doll, and the Dairy Queen along Highway 10 in Wadena is relatively close to where the couples live in Staples.

“There are only so many locations that Jacque and I can handle without including others as well,” Nick Doll said of the Wadena business purchased from Deborah Ebner Tougas.

Dairy Queen storefront
The Dairy Queen at Ash Avenue Northwest and First Street Northwest struggled like many restaurants to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic.
Devlyn Brooks / Wadena Pioneer Journal

International Dairy Queen Inc. out of Minneapolis is the parent company of American Dairy Queen Corp. and Dairy Queen Canada Inc. Through its subsidiaries, IDQ develops, licenses and services more than 7,000 locations in the U.S., Canada and more than 20 other countries. “We both have very entrepreneurial families," Nick Doll said. “And we have relatives who have set the examples before us of being able to run multiple locations, so it doesn't seem like like an impossible task for us.”

Nick Doll is the fourth generation in his family to own and operate the DQ franchise. His father, Dave, also owned the Taco John's in Wadena next to the Holiday Stationstore along with the Dairy Queen in Motley.

“I spent the time after high school and into my mid-20s trying to avoid doing what my parents did and trying to do other things,” Nick Doll said. “But ultimately, it's a great business and it enables you to do a lot with your family, and I kind of got pulled back in.”


The Doll family includes three children and the Rutten family includes four children, according to Jacque Doll.

“My sister Amy is so smart and she will do a fantastic job at this location,” Jacque Doll said of the Dairy Queen in Wadena.

What began as the 10-cent sale of an unknown frozen treat in 1938 quickly boomed into one of the most well-known soft serve/frozen treat companies of all time, according to the corporation.

“Dairy Queen is a place where you come to celebrate the big and small moments in life,” Amy Rutten said. “We are so grateful to be part of that and to bring you your Dairy Queen back.”

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The weekly newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
What To Read Next
Get Local