For the past seventy years, the Carbondale Dairy Queen has been a place for anyone to enjoy ice cream and spend the afternoon with friends and family.
Joe Waicukauski gained ownership of the Carbondale Dairy Queen in 1966, just over a decade after it was built and his son, Mark Waicukauski, who currently owns the building, grew up in and around the business. Joe Waicukauski passed away in 2016, but Mark continued to carry on his and his business’ legacy.
The Dairy Queen creates a sense of nostalgia for many members of the Carbondale community. Many people remembered eating ice cream on the sidewalk with their friends and family when they were kids and watching the cars and floats during the Halloween parades pass by.
“Everything has changed so much downtown so when alumni come back to town, everything is so much different for them. But when they come see the Dairy Queen, everybody’s got memories of coming to the Dairy Queen, sitting on the wall and talking, and it just brings back good memories of everything,” Mark Waicukauski said.
Because of COVID-19, the business had to close until they decided to reopen again this spring, taking precautionary measures. Waicukauski said that with the only available seating being outside, it felt safe for both the employees and their customers to reopen.
“They can come up here and be normal like they used to. I mean, so it was good for people to have some normalcy in their lives,” Waicukauski said.
Waicukauski said the Dairy Queen corporation asked them multiple times about updating and renovating their facility, but he always declined, saying there are too many memories people have of the current building to replace it with a newer one.
“We get ten people a week stopping and taking pictures of this place and we want to keep the nostalgia of this as long as possible,” Waicukauski said.
Staff Photographer Sophie Whitten can be reached at [email protected] or on Instagram @swittenphotography.
To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.