All good things must come to an end, and for one mainstay of Dickinson's Villard Street that end came. The Dairy Barn, formerly Dairy Queen, was demolished as construction workers wheelbarrowed her remains to clear way for an upgraded car wash for Simonsons. The building that stood at 339 E Villard St., while gone, will not be forgotten by many.
Richard and Dorathy Schmidt ran the building when it was a Dairy Queen and the restaurant was a fan favorite, especially for local kids who would swing by for a tiny cone on the way to the public pool. The restaurant was well-known for its reasonably priced classic ice-cream and Dorathy's well-known and respected barbecue — courtesy of a secret family recipe.
"It really was a sad day when I drove by there and I saw that they were taking the red roof off," Fran Martin, a man that spent many of his youthful days at the then Dairy Queen. "There was a lot of memories there and Dairy Queen was kind of one the cornerstones of Dickinson too. They’ve all gone now because things have changed so much since we were kids … it’s kind of sad, it really is. But, I guess that’s progress and that’s the way things go."
Originally purchased in the mid-50s by Richard Schmidt, the building was originally located approximately two blocks east of where the Dairy Barn last stood on Villard Street. Schmidt opted to name his new building Dairy Queen and watched over the years as the facility grew and customers came.
Eventually, Richard purchased the building at 339 E. Villard in 1962 and officially completed renovations.
Martin recalled the early days of the restaurant.
"I just remember as kids, we’d be coming home from basketball games over at South Heart and Belfield … it was just being a little bit bigger than a garage, but you ordered up in front and that wasn’t heated. You had to do your orders through a little window, they took your order and they slid it back out. There wasn’t a place where you could sit down or eat or anything, you either stood in the cold and eat it there or you took it to your car."
As the store began to pick up more popularity throughout the years, the Dairy Queen was able to expand to the North with more work space and to the west with an actual dining room facility. Everyone loved the Dairy Queen, even the staff members.
"I've had a career in the car business, I owned my own car dealership, but I’m telling you right now, that was the best job I ever had," Delayne Dvorak, who worked there throughout his entire high school career and now the owner of Dvorak Motors of Dvorak Motors Bismarck, said. "The most fun that I ever had at work ... I tell ya, the staff I worked with was just awesome. There’s some that we’re still friends today. Matter of fact, I married one of them. My wife and I met at the Dairy Queen."
All the while, Dorathy and Richard Schimdt treated all the customers and staff like one big family. Together as a team they always showed love and caring to everyone who came into for a fresh treat — even on holidays, when most restaurants of their day were closed to business. For the Schmidts, it was always about bringing a smile to everyone's face.
"They were great people, Richard and Dorathy Schmidt were awesome people. They made you feel like family when you were working there, just great people," Dvorak said. "The Roughrider Day Parade was the best, we would be stocked up, we would work through the night to get ready for the parade day. We just made all kinds of pre-made sundaes, Bar-B-Q and it was just a blast, and then we’d close during the parade, go up on the roof to watch the parade and then we’d go down and start serving."
Marla Beth, child of Richard and Dorathy Schmidt, briefly talked about what it was like inside the classic ice cream restaurant.
"I grew up there, it was my life until about 20 years ago. It was a big part of my life," she said. "It was a great business, Richard and Dorathy were known very well."
In the 1980s, Richard decided it was time to hang up the apron and retire from the food industry, selling the Dairy Queen. However, after the purchase, the new owners opted to re-locate to the North end of Dickinson. Forcing Richard to deal with the burdon of an empty building.
Eventually, the Schmidts decided it was time to make a comeback in the restaurant business and returned to his very same building on East Villard Street. However, due to no longer having the name rights to Dairy Queen, Richard decided the new name was going to be Dairy Barn.
After another solid run of bringing joy and happiness to all ages, Richard sold the Dairy Barn in the late 1990s and officially walked away from the business.
As of Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, the building stands no more. But the memories will continue to swirl around minds that remember the business, just like the delicious food swirled their taste buds.