In all the celebration over the incoming Evergreen Line, it can be easy to forget the casualties in the name of progress.
Burquitlam's drive-upstyle Dairy Queen, a neighbourhood icon and hangout since the 1960s, sits right smack dab where the province has plans to put the line's ticket booth. There's no date set for a wrecking ball yet, but this will certainly be the last summer to buy a soft serve or Blizzard at that location.
Owner Rosa Kent was hired to work there as a cake decorator 20 years ago. She purchased the franchise a few years later.
"[It's] really sad because I'm losing my business," Kent said. "The SkyTrain is coming. It's been on and off for the last 10 years, but I guess it actually is coming.
I don't want to go against the SkyTrain, but I guess if that's what they want, that's what they want."
Kent's lawyers are still negotiating with the province as to how long she can remain open and how she'll be compensated, but she hopes she'll be able to last until the end of August. Naturally, this is the busiest and most lucrative time of year for an ice cream parlour.
The restaurant's closing is a bittersweet experience for Kent, who has banked a lot of great memories over the years.
"It's been fun. It's been great teaching the teenagers. Normally, it's their first job when they're 15 or 16. Lots of things to teach the young girls. Some are good. Some, well, they're not meant to be in public service," she said with a laugh.
But run a small business that serves a neighbourhood well and things will get sentimental, especially for the regular customers, many of whom Kent still decorates cakes for.
"A lot of them are very sad. They say, 'My mom used to bring me here when I was five of six.' Now they're all grown up and have kids themselves and bring their own kids here. That's how well it's been established here."
Kent said she is arranging for most of her employees to be transferred over to Dairy Queen's Lougheed location and she'll go herself for a while to keep serving her most loyal customers.
"I have to phone them and tell them to go to the one on Lougheed because we won't be here for too long," she said. "My customers, I'm sure, they will go down there and they want specific things on their cakes."
Dairy Queen first opened the Burquitlam location in about 1965 but it floundered under its first two franchise owners. It wasn't until Ernie Dougherty and his cousin Gary Martinick bought it in 1967 that it flourished. At that time, a banana split was 45 cents and a Dilly Bar cost a dime.
Dougherty recalled why he and Martinick likely succeeded where previous owners failed.
"At that time, the shopping mall had very few stores in it and the apartment blocks hadn't been built around there," he said.
"Then they started building all those condos and apartments and it made all the difference."
A careful attention to detail by the new owners didn't hurt either.
"When you make a sundae, you make it with eye-appeal. I kept it up to the good proper standards. For style as well.
Everything went out with a curl on top," he added.
Martinick bought Dougherty's stake in the business five years later and continued to run the store right up until he sold to Kent.
A testament to how long the Evergreen Line has been in the realm of talk and not action, Martinick said he always assumed it would force him to close up as well.
"That's the funny thing. In all the time I was there, the threat was that it was going to be closed up," he said. "So it doesn't surprise me. It just surprises me that it took this long."
Some of the most long-lasting memories for Martinick involve the lineups, 50 or 60 deep, of people coming during the annual banana split sale.
"We used to buy over a ton of bananas for two days. It was like an assembly line where you virtually had somebody putting the ice cream in a dish and one person just to split bananas all day long to the point their fingers were just black," he said.
Martinick said there is one myth to clear up about his store. It was never where Dorothy Stratten, the 1980s Playboy playmate and actress who was murdered, worked. She was at the North Burnaby location, he clarified.
Martinick said he shares the same fondness for his time with Dairy Queen as Kent does.
"To me, it was just the best business you could ever be in. It was just a mom and pop business," he said. "I always called it 680 square feet of dynamite ice cream store."
According to Dairy Queen's corporate office, of the 5,000 Dairy Queen locations in North America, only about 500 of the old-style ones remain.
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