There have been other long, cold, snowy winters on the Kenai Peninsula but what just might set the winter of 2012 apart from the others is that after those football, hockey, basketball, or good report cards, there was no Dairy Queen to go to for a coaches or parental reward, no customized DQ Birthday cakes and it just seemed to make the winter harder. Winter has passed and what was taken in an unfortunate fire last June has returned. In a show of community celebration and appreciation for the Ischi family, last weeks grand re-opening overwhelmed everyone. "It's exciting! It's been ten months we've been working to get to this point and we're very excited, everything is new and fresh and there is a lot of excitement going on around here," said Val Ischi, at the pre-grand re-opening Monday when the Ischi's invited students from Redoubt Elementary School to come in for the very first trail run of all the new equipment. "We wanted to have a soft opening to get some experience before Wednesday's opening so we thought it would be great to have the 5th graders come over from Redoubt to take a tour of the new facility and give us some practice," added Val. "The kids were all too happy to help out and were excited to be invited and we made it into a learning experience and field trip with our teachers taking the opportunity to give the kids some hands on money changing experience as well," commented Redoubt principal John Pothast, who happily volunteered to chaperone his students.
April 4th and the DQ grand re-opening became the talk of the town and by 9:00am Wednesday folks were lining up for the official ribbon cutting, at the drive-through Jan Wallace pulled up at 10:00am and parked with a good book to be the first in line which quickly wound its way back around and through Hooligan's parking lot. "We were really surprised at the turn out, my parents let me cut the ribbon because I came up with the idea of the grand re-opening and it was really fun," said Whitney Ischi who was born in Soldotna, graduated from college and returned to the family business. Whitney was in charge of the drive-through and said by 3:00pm the line hadn't let up at all. "It's a little overwhelming and we're looking forward to getting our feet back on the ground tomorrow. It was a hectic training experience but that's the best way to learn and we promise our service time will get better and better from here on out and we really appreciate the publics patience with the new start up and above all their overwhelming support for our family and this re-opening," commented Peter Ischi, partner in the 25 year old family business.
Wednesday also marked the opening of the Gifts & Gadgets store, also owned by Peter and Val Ischi which replaces the Fudge Shop that was lost in the fire as well. "We're very happy with the way it turned out, we didn't have a lot of time for planning and it was just created as we went along, but we are very pleased with the end result," said Val. The exterior of the building features a mosaic rendering of tile and beach stones that depict the Alaskan landscape of mountains and seascape. The restaurant now features an updated and modern appearance similar to other Dairy Queen motifs across the country. The Dairy Queen is now open for regular business hours seven days a week.