In a variation of what’s old is now new, Dairy Queen is coming back to South Windsor.
The South Windsor Planning and Zoning Commission in December unanimously approved a site plan modification for some minor changes for a 2,600-square-foot Dairy Queen Grill & Chill to open at 845 Sullivan Ave.
If that location seems familiar as far as Dairy Queen is concerned, it’s because it is. A Dairy Queen was once located on that property about 20 years ago, according to Town Planner Michele Lipe. Stowe Kitchen and Bath was the most recent tenant of the property, which has sat vacant for about two years.
“Welcome back,” Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Patrick Kennedy said to restaurant co-owner Bob Larkin after the commission approved the plan.
The Dairy Queen that is scheduled to open sometime in April will certainly be different from its first incarnation. Among other things, there will be a drive-thru and an outdoor dining area with about 48 seats (more on that later), as well as a miniature golf and entertainment center in the back of the restaurant.
In addition, Phase 2 of the plan calls for the addition of a 1,300-square-foot “party” room for larger gatherings.
Before it approved the application, the commission first modified several outdoor dining zoning regulations.
Specifically, the commission slightly relaxed its regulation concerning outdoor seating. Before, all applications for outdoor seating had to be reviewed by the commission. Now, permits seeking six tables /24 seats or fewer may be approved by town staff instead of going to the full commission.
The commission also approved restaurants to use low-level exterior audio systems to play “mood music” for outdoor diners provided that “volumes are kept low and are not offensive to persons on abutting properties.”
Lipe said that the use of the audio systems essentially had to be in compliance with the town’s noise ordinance.
In areas that abut residential properties, establishments that use external audio systems have to monitor noise volumes and report their findings to the town planner.
Finally, the commission expanded outdoor dining areas without waitpersons from 4 tables/16 seats to 16 tables and 48 seats.
Still, even having cleared those hurdles, the owners of the Dairy Queen still are looking for an easement from the Town Council to use an adjacent, town-owned lot for overflow parking. The lot is used for people who use the Major Michael Donnelly Land Preserve trails that abut the property. The applicants said that the lot would still be used by people wishing to utilize the trails.