Garrettsville – It’s been a sweet way to make a living for Roger Angel and his wife, Connie. But after nearly 42 years of serving up Dilly Bars, swirl cones, Blizzards, Peanut Buster Parfaits, ice cream cakes, burgers, chili dogs and fries, it’s time for the Angels leave Garrettsville’s Dairy Queen in new hands. As of November 1, 2017, the Angels officially retired.
“It’s been a great life and a great living,” Roger and Connie say. “Four of our six kids worked with us over the years. We’ve been very fortunate to have a business and for the community to be so supportive. We miss our customers and the kids who worked for us. They kept us on our toes! There are things we could have done differently and better… but we did the best we could. We want to thank the public for 42 great years.”
The DQ Grill & Chill at 8013 State Street in the Garfield Plaza has been sold to Gulnaz “Wally” Kaur and wife “Bunny” from Pittsburgh, who own four additional restaurants in the DQ franchise. Zach Good from North Lima is manager of day-to-day operations.
Quick to say the new management “wants to keep our traditions going while providing a consistent DQ product line,” Roger says he and Connie still own the DQ building along with the Domino’s (which Roger built in 2000) and NAPA G’ville Auto Parts buildings. Roger also co-owns Garfield Plaza with his sons. “I may be retired but I am still here and I’m still involved on the Chamber of Commerce board,” he adds.
Born and raised in Garrettsville, Roger left only for four years to serve in the Coast Guard during Vietnam (stationed on Nantucket Island). He then worked for his brother at Glenn’s Angel Construction Company. Later, Roger attended Bohecker’s Business College, where he learned accounting/bookkeeping.
In pursuit of the American Dream and being his own boss, in 1973 Roger built the building that Dairy Queen and NAPA now occupy in Garfield Plaza. At that time, Sam and Laurabell Christopher of Windham operated the Garrettsville DQ, paying Roger rent for the building. Eventually, the Christophers were ready to sell. 28-year-old Roger Angel purchased Garrettsville’s Dairy Queen franchise from the Christophers in January 1976, right after his first son was born. He also bought the Windham DQ and operated it for eight years before selling it back.
The Angels have had a hands-on, community-focused approach to business from the very beginning, maintaining a DQ staff of 30-40 local teens and adults every year. Roger wanted DQ to be a hotspot for families, regulars, and ball teams to gather for a birthday party, come eat or celebrate after a ball game. Soon Roger became a backbone sponsor for Little League and Girls’ Softball teams, with the added benefit of discounts for coaches who brought their teams for DQ treats after their games.
The Angels also started hosting the classic Car Cruises that have since become a summertime tradition in Garrettsville; organizing bi-weekly cruise nights at Dairy Queen for 15 years. The Car Cruises now are operated by the Chamber, with Mayor Rick Patrick the organizational leader.
When Connie joined DQ as the official ice cream cake decorator in 1983, the Angels started giving away free cakes as part of a customer-reward punch card program. With an eye on catering to customers’ increasing appetite for convenience, the Angels added the drive-thru In 1984 and the solarium for double the indoor seating in 1986. Indoor restrooms were added in 1997. In 2006, the DQ became a Grill & Chill with an expanded menu. In 2012, the solarium was replaced with the warm ambiance of the indoor fireplace and big screen TV.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of “Angel atmosphere” was the incorporation of thousands of nostalgic antique collectibles lining the walls and hanging from the ceiling. Wonderful multi-generational memories and conversations were stirred up at the sight of antique, vintage gas pumps, old timey porcelain signs, nostalgic pedal tractors and cars, and other nearly-forgotten toys and collectibles from times gone by.
Originally, the antiques had been accumulated as Roger’s personal hobby, but his treasures soon outgrew the Angel home, so the DQ became the chosen show room. Now corporate headquarters won’t permit the collectibles to stay at DQ. The Angels held a huge auction of their antiques collection in October at Sugar Bush Golf Club. It was so well-attended, there was no room left in the parking lot and there was standing room only.
Now that the Angels are shedding the trappings of their former life, they’re ready to embrace the new opportunities they can now enjoy with extra time on their hands… like actually attending family functions with their 14 grandchildren, lingering over lunch with friends, taking trips, and spending months at a time at their Florida condo.
It’s a sweet life.