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Buffett’s Dairy Queen returns to T&T after 30 years
International Dairy Queen Inc returned to T&T after a 30-year hiatus as the restaurant chain of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRK/A) expands outside the US. The restaurant known for its ice-cream desserts opened in December Port-of-Spain, three decades after Dairy Queen shuttered operations there as trade laws restricted imports from the US, said Justin Holtkamp, vice president of international marketing. He said the franchisee is the son of the original owners.
“Mom and dad owned the first Dairy Queen,” Holtkamp said in a phone interview. “Their son brought it back” after trade laws loosened in recent years. Holtkamp didn’t identify him. Dairy Queen, which also sells hamburgers and soft drinks, has more than 1,000 stores outside the US and Canada. It opened its 500th restaurant in China last year and has more than 270 in Thailand. The company has expanded in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Guatemala and Singapore.
The franchisee in Trinidad has exclusive rights to all future Dairy Queens there, Holtkamp said. Three more locations will open in Trinidad over the next few months, the Minneapolis- based company said yesterday in a statement.
Dairy Queen, whose brands include fruit-drink maker Orange Julius and popcorn-retailer Karmelkorn, was purchased by Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire in 1998. The ice-cream maker caters its menu to local flavours in addition to selling standard American items, Holtkamp said. Dairy Queen will add the Mango Cheesecake Blizzard dessert to its Trinidad menu.
It’s a “flavour that you’d find in more tropical markets and you would not find in the US,” Holtkamp said. Economic reform and the “liberalisation” of trade and investment regulations have encouraged foreign investment in T&T, according to a 2012 report from the US State Department.
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