ELLSWORTH — Dairy Queen has been confirmed as the new restaurant coming to High Street.
Dan MacIntyre, spokesman for the company that owns the Maine Coast Mall, said Wednesday that Ellsworth Soft Serve LLP intends to open a Dairy Queen Grill & Chill on the now-vacant former Darling’s auto dealership lot next to McDonald’s.
The franchisee, which also runs Dairy Queens in Brewer and Waterville, hopes to open its Ellsworth location in December if all goes well, MacIntyre said.
He said the Ellsworth Dairy Queen will be about 2,500 feet in size and will offer burgers, hot dogs and other sandwiches in addition to its ice cream menu. It also will have a drive-through window.
Union River Associates Realty Holdings LLC, which owns the mall, also owns the former Darling’s lot. MacIntyre said with Dairy Queen in place, there would still be room for two other pad sites and potential tenants.
Union River Associates earlier this summer asked the city for permission to make infrastructure improvements to the site in preparation for a new restaurant, though its identity was not disclosed at that time.
Among the improvements is building a new road from High Street to the parking lot in front of T.J. Maxx, running parallel to the property line for the McDonald’s parcel.
MacIntyre said Wednesday the Dairy Queen building project will go through Ellsworth’s Code Enforcement Office rather than its Planning Board. City Planner Michele Gagnon confirmed that.
Gagnon said even though the building size falls below the 5,000-square-feet threshold for Planning Board review, the city has discretion based on factors including traffic to refer smaller projects to the Planning Board. It is not anticipated that that will happen in this case, however.
Ellsworth once had a Dairy Queen, and this is not the first time the company has looked at returning to the city. Plans were filed with the city several years ago to build a Grill & Chill in the now-vacant former Irving gas station lot next to Cadillac Mountain Sports on High Street, but that did not materialize.
Though the new Dairy Queen will be located on the one-way section of High Street, MacIntyre said the new road being built on the property will allow customers to go north on High Street — back toward the center of the city — by exiting through the mall parking lot.