The town of Chestermere has seen a much anticipated addition to its ever-growing number of businesses this past month.
In the latest section of land development west of Highway 1A, where several other new businesses and a new gym have cropped up, a branch of the franchise Dairy Queen has opened in town.
The restaurant has been a long time coming. Owners Salina Bandali, her husband Sujad Bandali, brother-in-law Abdul Merchant, and sister Razia Merchant have been trying to open a branch in Chestermere for almost 10 years.
The groups came close to getting a branch 5 years ago, but were unsuccessful and ended up having to go back to square one.
They aren’t so unsuccessful now; the restaurant has been busy since it first opened 4 weeks ago.
One of the owners, Salina Bandali, has been operating various businesses in Chestermere for over 10 years now.
She previously ran an independent drugstore, and more recently, is the branch manager at the pharmacy in the town’s Shoppers Drug Mart.
There was a lot of preparation needed to open a Dairy Queen branch in Chestermere.
Bandali, her sister Razia Merchant, and brother in law Abdul Merchant had to do 6 weeks of training at different Dairy Queen branches all over the place, including a few weeks at a branch in Indiana, USA.
“It’s a family oriented business,” Bandali said when speaking of her latest endeavor, the Dairy Queen, and it’s early success.
“After church on Sundays, people come in with their whole families,” her sister and business partner, Razia Merchant added.
The customers so far have been very loyal, especially the students who often walk over on their lunch break from the school behind where the Dairy Queen is.
“All the kids come with their friends, it’s like a hangout.” Merchant said.
Both women noted though that all the students who come are very well behaved, and they enjoy being at the restaurant. This makes Bandali and Merchant very happy.
Merchant even said that one afternoon, a group of students spilled some food on the ground in the outdoor patio, and cleaned all of it up themselves without any prompting from the staff, which was pleasing for both women to see.
“We have teenagers (working here), so it’s not a big deal.” Said Bandali, on the idea that the restaurant is slowly becoming a hangout for kids.
“A lot of kids work for us. 60 kids were hired at this location.” Merchant added.
Having the teenagers mix with the adults has been an interesting experience for Bandali and Merchant, who both have teenage children at home.
“There’s a limit to push kids to, you just need to know what it is.” Bandali said, adding that all her staff, teenage or otherwise, are very hard workers.
With their grand opening slated for May 25, Bandali hopes to generate even more interest in the restaurant.
It’s the first in the province to have the new set up inside the store. The layout is different from any other store in Alberta, and gives off almost a trendy vibe.
It’s fresh and different, which the owners hope will help the store, along with its phenomenal staff and loyal customers, remain successful in the long run.