BEL AIR, Md. — They've been serving up soft serve at the corner of Hickory Bypass and Conowingo Road in Bel Air for decades. This Dairy Queen was here before just about anything else.
"We knew it would be a place families would love to go and there were none in Harford County so that's why we're here."
Ed and Jan Hicks opened DQ 20 years ago and now they're about to hang up their scoops.
"We got a couple of trips planned. We love to travel."
And what a year this has been. While so many other small businesses struggled, they had success, in large part thanks to their drive-thru window.
"It kept the store afloat last year."
"127,000 blizzards last year. That's huge."
"Small business runs the world. Absolutely."
Their days behind the counter may be over for the Hicks, but the business will remain in the family. Their youngest daughter Michelle and her husband Adam will take over the reins.
"She started in our first store way back in Illinois. She was 9 years old and as along as she could reach something she worked for us and she loved it."
The couple has already started the tradition with their 15-year-old son Gavin who's the oldest of three.
"Just to keep it in the family after more than 20 years of dedication, we wanted to make sure it was still going strong 20, 30 more years."
But like many businesses who've survived the pandemic.
"It's been a journey to say the least."
And they know they will still face challenges like hiring.
"This has been one of the most eye opening experiences for our industry because I feel for every other restaurant out there. We've been lucky because we are attracting that first time worker if you will, so our pool of employees is somewhat there, but it still has been a real challenge."
Fortunately their longtime manager will help with that. He's been at the restaurant for half the time they've been open 10 years, and he's eager to find young workers.
"Teach them about what it's like to have a job. For a lot of them it's their first job so I kinda get to mold them as how employees are supposed to be and how working is supposed to be."
As they gear up to for the summer, the new owners say they're ready to keep serving up the smiles Harford County has become accustomed to.
"Harford County has supported this business every single day."
"It's like riding a bike. You don't forget how to make those cones or any of the products. It's been totally a part of our family for my whole life."