By RANDY GONZALES
NORTON -- The old Dairy Queen is gone, replaced by a new one.
For many, it was hard to see the old barn go, but the new DQ is delighting local and area customers with its new menu and new look.
Jody Enfield, who with his wife, Jessica, owns the new DQ on the site of the former building, grew up in Norton. He remembers eating ice cream and looking at the murals on the walls inside the old DQ.
"I have pretty fond memories, being born and raised here, of the old store," Jody Enfield said. "I really hated to see the old building come down.
"It's been here for so long, and I have my own memories of it. I hated to see it come down."
Alan Hale, Norton, is a regular customer. Although he liked the old DQ, he appreciates the new one, too.
"Sometimes you have to let go of the past and accept change," he said. "I think the other one had run its course, and it was somewhat of an iconic structure and building. But this one is very, very nice."
The former DQ is believed to have been in town since the mid-1950s. But it started to fall in disrepair, and it had been closed for approximately three months before Jody Enfield's grandfather, Larry Enfield, bought the building.
Larry Enfield approached Jody and his wife about taking over the business. At first, the plan was to remodel, but that soon changed to razing the old building and starting fresh. The only things left from the building are a kitchen sink and a drive-through sign outside.
Demolition of the building started in spring 2012, and Jody and Jessica Enfield received training from Dairy Queen through the summer on how to run the franchise.
The Enfields opened for business Nov. 12. They were met with a long line of eager customers waiting at the door, and another long line of cars waiting at the drive-through.
"I think the townspeople were so excited to see Dairy Queen alive again," Jessica Enfield said.
Jessica Enfield said people were keeping track of the progress, waiting for the new DQ to open.
"It was really neat to see the townspeople involved," she said.
"All day long, for that first opening week, lines at the door," Jody Enfield said. "People could not wait; they wanted to have Dairy Queen back."
The former DQ was a Brazier store, selling mainly cheeseburgers in addition to ice cream. The new store reflects a change in concept for DQ, and is being billed as "grill and chill."
"Total new concept," Jody Enfield said. "This is the first design in the Midwest. This is a new style design they're testing out."
The new menu is bigger.
"We have quesadillas, different things," Jody Enfield said. "Grill burgers, and all that stuff."
Barbara Goeken, a lifelong Norton resident, remembers going to the store as a kid. She likes the menu choices at the new store.
"Oh, it's a lot better," she said. "Lot of improvement, more room, more seating. The meals are awesome."
During a recent lunch hour, Goeken stopped for a mushroom swiss burger. She likes Orange Julius in the store now, too.
"I haven't tried all the flavors yet, but I'm working on it," Goeken said.
Hale also likes what he's tried on the new menu.
"I have not found anything on the menu yet that is not my favorite," he said. "It's going to take a while to wade through the whole menu, but I hope to get there."
The Enfields had to do a little soul searching before agreeing to take over the store. Jody had worked in the Norton County Sheriff's Department, then for the Norton Police Department, while Jessica had been a nurse at a local retirement home. They never had run a restaurant, so making the decision was a leap of faith.
"To us, it was all God," Jody Enfield said of the decision-making process. "We're strong Christians, and it's just a God thing for us because it's something we never saw coming."
The couple has three small children to take care of, too, as well as running a business.
"They really love it," Jody Enfield said. "We have to keep them on strict rules on when to have (ice cream) and when not."
The Enfields think of DQ as not just their own business, but the town's, too.
"I think the people are very proud of this place. They take ownership of it a lot," Jody Enfield said. "We have tons of people that are in here every day.
"I think they're proud to have something different, something extra to give them a little variety in a small town."
Jody and Jessica Enfield are putting in long hours getting the business off the ground. But when they are stressed out, they rely on their faith to see them through.
"We're very thankful that God provided us with all of this and the opportunity to help with the town," Jody Enfield said. "That's why I believe that's the reason we're here. What we did before, never in a million years did we see doing this."
Even when it's busy, Jody and Jessica are smiling away at their new business -- at Norton's new business.
"It is fun; we do enjoy it," Jessica Enfield said. "It feels like a second home."