New establishment aims to bring good vibes, make a difference one Blizzard at a time
By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news
The Almeda Fire in September 2020 burned down Ashland’s Burger King, but on Friday, April 29, the city gains a new Dairy Queen.
The wait for Dilly bars, Blizzards, and Peanut Buster Parfaits at Exit 19 are over. Customers can find many of the sweet treats from the menu available starting Friday, with a full menu of lunch and dinner items and cakes rolling out in mid-May.
“It’s like a rebirth,” said Jason Federico of the opening of the new location.
Federico held up a fan-favorite, the DQ Blizzard, out front of Ashland’s new Dairy Queen earlier this week. Seated next to a life-size, red spoon, he held the Blizzard upside down — the ultimate test for a DQ treat — as employee Ashley Holmes helped choreograph the photo.
The closest DQ to Ashland was on Barnett Road in Medford to the north and all the way to Redding to the south, so the new location helps fill a gap left behind when a former franchise on Siskiyou Boulevard in Ashland closed in the mid-2000s. Burger King opened at the location in spring 1995, according to Federico.
Would-be customers have been stopping by often to see if they could order up a sweet treat during construction, especially this week, according to owners.
“We’re just really excited to get going,” Jason said.
Jason and Katie Federico, who live in Central Point, own three other Dairy Queens in the Rogue Valley — one in White City and two in Grants Pass.
A “vast majority” of the employees hired on so far have been directly or indirectly impacted by the Almeda Fire. Jason said hearing their stories of the impacts to their families from the fire have been “eye-opening.”
The house the Federicos once lived in in Phoenix burned in the blaze as well.
Jason described the aftermath that many living in the Rogue Valley and Upper Rogue area understand well following the Almeda and Obenchain fires: seeing a house he and his wife had lived in become ashes.
“All the surrounding neighborhood gone, we didn’t live there long, but still you, you had memories of it, your kids played in the backyard,” Jason said.
“As everybody knows, it was chaos, it was a gut punch … It was life-altering for a lot of people,” he added.
It made the couple want to do something positive. They also knew the property owners who were leasing to the Burger King that burned at Exit 19.
“That’s one of the reasons we decided to pursue this,” Jason said.
“We saw it obviously as a business opportunity but also we wanted to be part of the solution on this south end of the valley,” Jason said.
“The opportunity came available, and we thought, ‘if not now, when?’”
Jason sat outside in the covered, open-air seating. He noted that the blue tables are all that remained from the Burger King site, aside from the concrete pad.
While he and Katie are honoring what was lost with their new venture, they are also trying some new things with the location, including installing six solar panels. The location is the first Dairy Queen in the nation to use solar power, according to Jason. It will also have ample covered, outdoor seating, with a view of the mountainous landscapes.
Jason said the location will staff between 25-30 employees and he’s hoping to hear from those looking for work. Staff are paid up to $15 per hour, depending on experience.
Medford-based R.A. Murphy Construction handled construction and the Federicos also hired various local subcontractors.
Reach Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth at firstname.lastname@example.org.