Ownership changes at Statesville Boulevard Dairy Queen

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 28, 2012

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — There’s a new queen in town. Amanda Earnhardt, who mixed Blizzards and dipped ice cream cones throughout high school and college, has purchased one of the Dairy Queen locations from her former boss, Melissa Utley.
Amanda and Scott Earnhardt own and operate the Dairy Queen on Statesville Boulevard.
Melissa and Robert Utley will keep the West Innes Street location, and they continue to own the rights to all of Rowan County.
Amanda, 33, came of age at Dairy Queen, working for the Utleys while she attended South Rowan High School and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
So when the Utleys, who have run the Statesville Boulevard shop for 26 years and the Innes Street location for 34 years, decided to cut their workload in half, Amanda was the natural choice to take over one store.
Newly engaged when the Utleys made their offer, Amanda took her time to decide. She knew she had the experience to do the job, but buying a business was still intimidating.
“Scott and I talked about it for months,” she said. “That’s a huge step.”
Melissa she said never doubted Amanda’s ability.
The Earnhardts bought the store June 5 and were married June 30 in Jamaica.
“I am thrilled for Amanda. I adore Amanda,” Melissa said. “She will do a great job there. We would have never sold if we didn’t feel like it was still going to be as good as it ever was.”
Amanda still works full-time as the assistant to the director of warehousing for Aldi, a job she said she loves and will continue. Between Aldi during the day and Dairy Queen at night, she works about 80 hours a week.
“I’m not complaining,” Amanda said. “It’s been going great.”
Scott works full-time at the Dairy Queen with two employees.
Scott and Amanda enjoy the personal connection they have with customers.
“It’s just awesome to be able to meet your regulars, and just random people as well,” Amanda said. “That’s how we’re able to do it. We depend on our customers, and we truly appreciate them.”
Along with weekday specials, the Earnhardts plan to do more advertising and host special events to bring in new faces.
They’d like to remodel the store someday and will continue to work closely with the Utleys.
Purchasing the restaurant meant a large investment of time and money. Amanda declined to name the purchase price but did say, “Our time is priceless.”
While buying the Dairy Queen won’t pay off immediately, she said owning the store is reassuring as they look to their future.
They would even consider moving the store to a more visible location.
“We wouldn’t go far, for our regulars, but eventually we would like to relocate to bring in more business,” she said. “There are so many people who don’t even know that this store is here.”
Melissa sees herself in Amanda, 20 years ago — full of ideas and energy, devoted to a new husband and a new business. The Utleys raised their children in Dairy Queen.
While she admitted shedding a few tears, Melissa said the transition has been seamless.
“I walked out one day, and she walked in the next morning,” Melissa said.
Now, Melissa and Robert are enjoying a slower pace and looking forward to more time with their family.
Son Nick is a rising senior at East Rowan, and daughter Jessica will return to East Carolina University in the fall.
However, they haven’t ruled out opening a third Dairy Queen somewhere in Rowan County. Melissa said she sees potential south and east of Salisbury.
“I’m not going to say never,” she said. “Until recently, we never even considered it. Now it’s something we can think about.”
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.