DILWORTH-A new restaurant will open here later this summer, but the name and concept won't be entirely unfamiliar to longtime residents as it aims to replace the loss of the town's Dairy Queen.
Josh Wendt said a massive renovation is underway at the future site of Kool Kone, 4 Center Ave. W.
The building most recently housed Verdi's Italian Market, which opened in 2013 and closed in July 2016. Before that, it was the original location of Altony's Italian Cafe, which moved to Moorhead in 2012.
Wendt, the co-owner and manager of the new business along with his mother, Pam Gordon, said a major renovation began earlier this year with a scope of work that goes far beyond the average remodeling project.
"Well, we cut the building in half," Wendt said.
He said that drastic change was necessary to reduce the distance between the kitchen and drive-through window. Lopping off the back end, which brought the structure closer to its original size in the 1970s, also made the project more economical, he said.
Other steps so far have included replacing the roof and siding, pouring new concrete and installing new windows, he said.
Wendt said the family, including the building's owner, his stepfather Al Gordon, saw the potential for Kool Kone here as they heard about new development plans at other nearby businesses.
A Dairy Queen a block from Kool Kone didn't open this spring after being sold to Casey's General Stores, which will tear it down as part of an expansion of a Casey's convenience store, 1 Center Ave. E.
Wendt said the family had the building up for sale but didn't find a buyer. Once news spread about Dairy Queen, he said the timing was right to open up Kool Kone.
"It seemed like a perfect thing to do," he said. "The Hi-Ho is probably really the only place to eat here in town."
Kool Kone will serve soft serve ice cream and treats, as well as sloppy joes, sandwiches, burgers, fried chicken, corn dogs, fried appetizers and more.
"It's kind of like the mom-and-pop small-town ice cream shop," he said.
A relative of Wendt's used to operate a Kool Kone in the same building in the 1970s, he said, starting the business on the north side of Highway 10. It eventually moved to its current location on the south side.
Wendt said he isn't sure yet if it will be open all year or only in the summer. While it's not really a sit-down eatery, with plans for just five small tables on the inside, a window to order at from the outside and a drive-through, he said it could stay open year-round if business is good enough.
He expects the restaurant to be open six days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
While he still has more to figure out before Kool Kone opens later this month, he said its highly visible location along Highway 10 could make it a busy place to grab a sweet treat or a burger.
"It's on a corner lot at the one stoplight in town," he said.