Food & Drink

Plainfield Dairy Queen Celebrates 40th Anniversary

de98f699ff1a5f0ec3b8_DQ_-_Donna_and_Dad_01.JPG
Donna Albanese and her dad, Joe, behind the counter at the Plainfield Dairy Queen. Credits: John Mooney
52446969f8b6bb4a470e_DQ_Children_s_Miracle_Network.jpg
The Albanese family has helped raise thousands of dollars for Children's Miracle Network at the the Plainfield Dairy Queen. Credits: John Mooney
d2784fbcd986c947e419_DQ_outside_01.JPG
Dairy Queen on South Ave. in Plainfield. Credits: John Mooney
4e136184d890b8650d0f_DQ_Happy_Bday_Melissa.jpg
b5a06a652bb3f30454af_DQ_-_Bike_event_2015_with_Mapp.jpg
Donna and her husband with officials from the Salvation Army and Plainfield's Mayor Mapp.
942ece34c7b87d323583_DQ_-_2_yr_old.jpg
Another happy customer.
0098214d97473f6f89a1_DQ_-_owners.jpg
Adele and Joseph Albanese
511d21d75a6453635909_DQ_-_Mahr_and_Glover.jpg
Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr, Donna Albanese and Scotch Plains Mayor Kevin Glover at a fundraising event held at Dairy Queen. Credits: Courtesy of Donna Albanese
310db0e52b8df1a02607_DQ_at_Booth.jpg
Dairy Queen is a long time sponsor of the Scotch Plains Fanwood Baseball League (SPFBL).
7491183b2eb499bdae8a_DQ_-_Bday_cake_and_Donna_01.JPG
Donna Albanese-DeMair 
f2922051eb92dc653259_DQ_-_Pumpkin_Sundaes_01.JPG
Halloween ice cream treats Credits: John Mooney
383a330cf7e2aa28efee_DQ_-_Wall_01.JPG
News articles and letters from former employees Credits: John Mooney
d1d1715b757b42dff2d9_DQ_-_Awards_and_accolades_01.JPG
Awards and accolades for the Plainfield Dairy Queen and its owners. Credits: John Mooney
b19d883188c54dab0a4a_DQ_-_SPFBL_Sponsor_of_the_Year_01.JPG
Dairy Queen was named Scotch Plains Fanwood Baseball League's "Sponsor of the Year" in 2012 Credits: John Mooney
d47f15243626f2be1680_DQ_-_40_01.JPG
40th Birthday Balloons at Dairy Queen Credits: John Mooney
e65e0e95b4e2f0b4b841_DQ_-_Donna_and_Mom_01.JPG
Donna and her mom.
a388a2fd1d4bee3ee126_DQ_-_Cousin_Amanda.jpg
Picture cake
de98f699ff1a5f0ec3b8_DQ_-_Donna_and_Dad_01.JPG

PLAINFIELD, NJ  — For more than 40 years, the Dairy Queen on South Avenue in Plainfield has put smiles on the faces of customers.

For Joseph Albanese (AKA "Mr. A"), who took over the family-run business in 1975, the most important thing is "to have customers leave in a happier frame of mind than when they came in."

"I socialize. I joke with them," he said in an interview with TAP this week. "I like to see people enjoy themselves. Joy comes from giving not from taking."

Sign Up for E-News

A large part of the business's success is owed to Mr. A's "sparkling personality." He sings opera, tells jokes and engages his customers young and old. He had been working in Kearny at Western electric,  the manufacturing of ATT in the 1970s when his oldest daughter said she wanted a car. He told her that she needed to get a job and that if she bought  her own car, he would pay for the insurance .

She got a job at the Dairy Queen in Cranford and proved so good at it that the owner called Mr. A two days later and asked about his other daughter. "Is she as good as this one?"

Eventually, the corporation asked him if he wanted to take over the business in Plainfield or Scotch Plains.

"They thought he had perfect personality, and that as a family we could make it work," said Donna Albanese, who oversees the operation.

The family took Plainfield because Mr A thought it had better potential.

"When they offered to sell store, they wouldn't show my accountant the books. He advised against buying it for that reason, but I told him 'I know I can make something of it'."

Since then, it has been one of the corporation's top performing stores. Things weren't always easy, however.

"We had 11 break-ins in first year and a half," Mr. A explained. "But the people protected us. They liked us. Everyone comes from near and far because we treat people the way they want to be treated. I give back to the community, and the people appreciated it. For the last eight years, we've had a Give Back Day. We make money despite giving 50 percent off because so many people come here."

"We each have different skills," Donna explained. "I'm creative. Dad is the marketing expert, and my son,  Richard handles the technology."

While she has been very successful in running the business, Donna says that initially her parents were concerned that she wouldn't be using her degree from The College of New Jersey.

"I studied speech pathology and audiology. While I was in grad school, I was teaching and making ice cream cakes," Donna explained. "My mom set the tone of being timely and being prepared. My training was in communication. When we hire people, we want them to smile, be polite, speak up, and help people."

Part of the job application process is to understand and learn integrity.

"I'll ask, 'Do you know what integrity means?' and explain that integrity is doing the right thing when nobody is watching," Donna said. "It speaks to your core. We are like family here. We want to mentor and teach them skills. These skills they will take them wherever they go. We want to give them confidence and teach them to be leaders. That's what we try to foster."

Mr. A says explains that attitude, moderation and consideration are the three keys of life and tells his employees, "The customer comes first. If I lose a customer, you lose your job. Leave your troubles at home when you come here. God comes first, then family, school... you come last."

Donna estimated that her family has hired more than 1,000 employees over the past 40 years and that they average three years here at the store. Meanwhile, the industry average for quick service tenure is only three months.

"The longer you are here, you move up. College students come back. One former employee, Charles Evans III, worked here when he was a medical school student. Now he's pediatrician in Phillipsburg, NJ," Donna recalled. " One day a guy came in a suit and made him feel bad about working here. I told him that he was doing honorable work and that in five years he would be a doctor. We gave him furniture and even attended his wedding. He was raised by a single mother here in Plainfield, and he still checks in with us."

All staff must learn how to be of help to customers. Job roles include Blizzard people, cake decorators, and register people. Only "stars" get to work the register. They have to be able to have full conversation and ask if there is something else they can do to help. It can be a challenge in an age when many teens would rather text than talk.

Success also is attributed to the innovative birthday cakes decorated with pictures or toys. Cake customers visit the Plainfield Dairy Queen from Fanwood, Scotch Plains, Westfield, South Plainfield, and elsewhere. Five years ago, the store expanded for parties and partners with the party store next door. Recently, a 60th birthday surprise party was held for a woman from Long Island whose family came from as far away as Florida, California and Las Vegas.

Another success factor is that the  family is also very community-minded. A long-time sponsor of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Baseball League, Dairy Queen was named "Sponsor of the Year" in 2012. Twice a year, the Dairy Queen owners have an event at which restored and repaired bicycles are given away at the Plainfield Salvation Army, which designates the people in need.

"Jays cycle in Westfield donates many of them. We have given away 1,000 bikes in 6 years," Donna said.

Donna is also well known as an advocate for organ donation. She gave one of her kidneys to her mom,, who was very sick. She also takes time to educate people about donations.

"I know that we've saved lives. I've received much more in return than I have ever given."

This attitude comes from her parents. Mr. A believe attitude is vitally important.

"If someone goes bad, don't get angry. Treat it as a wake-up call," he explained. "It's only after you get a taste of the bitter, that you can appreciate the sweet."

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

Westfield Firefighters Give Assist at Overnight House Fire in Garwood

July 12, 2018

GARWOOD, NJ - The Westfield and Clark fire departments were on hand to assist at a house fire early Thursday morning in Garwood.  The fire was in the upper levels of a vacant home on Willow Avenue, according to officials.

Clark Fire Chief Frank Cerasa confirmed that five Clark firefighters took one engine to the site. One witness reported seeing emergency responders from ...

Change The Early Morning Timing on Central Ave. Traffic Light

July 12, 2018

In connection with asking Union County to review the signal timing, PLEASE also consider the timing early in the morning. I frequently am heading south on Central to Metropark Station to catch the 6 a.m. train. Whenever I am at the intersection prior to 5:30 a.m., the timing is such that a green light (going south) lasts for less than the amount of time it takes to get one car through the ...

Westfield Police Blotter: Car Scratchings, Car Burglaries Continue & More

July 11, 2018

July 2, 2018 11:37 p.m.

Chad Doriral, age 32, of Brooklyn, NY was arrested for possession of CDS pursuant to a motor vehicle stop. Subject was processed and released on summons.

July 3, 2018 11:08 p.m.

Divine Kennedy, age 19, of Newark, NJ was arrested on the strength of an outstanding warrant for his arrest from Westfield Municipal Court in the amount of $1,000.00. Further investigation ...

Fall In Love With A Great Cause

July 14, 2018

The New Jersey Workshop for the Arts' Music Connection program provides children with special needs the opportunity to study music in a nurturing environment at a low cost, thanks to generous donations and grants. A $500 donation would provide one child a full course of music therapy and personalized music lessons.

During the ordeal of cancer diagnosis, Emmanuel Cancer Foundation steps in ...

Big Changes in Store for New Jersey’s Employers and Employees

Big changes are in store for New Jersey’s workplaces, with dramatic legislation aimed at improving conditions for New Jersey’s workers. These changes include the enactment of New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act, a new law to help the unemployed, and passage of New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Act. Most likely one or all these laws will impact you or someone in your family.

New ...

Understand NJ's Shared Responsibility Act

Last year, the President signed legislation that repealed the “penalty tax” for not having health insurance for tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2019.

 

On May 31, Governor Murphy signed into law the “New Jersey Health Insurance Market Preservation Act,” which establishes a “shared responsibility tax” for state residents without ...

5 Things You Should Know About Your Air Conditioner

How an air conditioner works

Air conditioners use refrigeration to cool indoor air. When a liquid converts to a gas, it absorbs heat. This process is called phase conversion. Air conditioners use phase conversion by forcing refrigerants to evaporate and condense over and over in a closed system of coils. 

What air conditioner filters do

Filters remove particles from the air, keeping ...

14 Homes Sold July 1 - July 8, 2018, in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Cranford, Mountainside & Fanwood

Fourteen homes sold July 1 through July 8, 2018, in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Mountainside, Fanwood and Cranford.*

TOWN                  ADDRESS             STYLE    RMS       ...

Dog Found in Garwood

UPDATE: Reunited with owner.

ORIGINAL POST: Dog found on Pine Avenue in Garwood. He was given food and water. Garwood police now has him. Sweet and friendly. Contact the Garwood Police Department.

It's Not What You Are Eating, It's What's Eating You

EMOTIONAL EATING: FEEDING YOUR FEELINGS

Emotional eating can be described as episodes of binge-eating, grazing and/or eating when not hungry to soothe feelings. Emotional eaters have a pattern of eating to cope with stress, emotional conflicts and problems of daily life.

Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than hunger. Instead of physical symptoms initiating the eating, ...

What Is Your Bottom Line?

This week's Parshah (Torah reading) is the Parshah of Pinchas the Zealot: the courageous young priest who stood up against idolatry and immorality and, in the end, saved Israel from a devastating plague.

While Pinchas' radical response made him a hero worthy of having a Torah section named after him, we wouldn't necessarily suggest to our children ...

'Servant of Two Masters' exudes foolish fun

‘Servant of Two Masters’ makes for foolish, frivolous fun

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ –Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” in a rousing translation and adaptation by Bonnie J. Monte, has the outdoor audience at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey laughing and clapping all the way through.

The yearly production, held at the amphitheatre on the ...

Commencement Collapse

July 1, 2018

Along with hundreds of parents in Westfield, my sons just graduated from high school (congratulations all!). It’s a funny thing being on the inside, being one of the moms who’s actually got kids in the flowy gowns. It’s a completely different vantage point than the one I’m used to; on many graduations past, I’ve felt deep joy while driving on Grove and seeing the ...

Westfield H.S. Students Receive Honorable Mention in NYT Podcast Contest

WESTFIELD, NJ — A podcast created by a group of Westfield High School students received an Honorable Mention in a first-ever podcast contest by the New York Times.

"By way of background, student groups in our Humanities class worked tirelessly on researching one of seven assigned renaissances and created a podcast that explored a particular innovation or innovator from the ...

Westfield Area YMCA: Take Swim Lessions This Summer

The Westfield Area YMCA is providing a free one-week guest pass to non-members which will also enable access to purchase a week of swim lessons at full member rates during the summer.  The one-week guest pass includes use of the Y’s fitness facilities, land and water group exercise classes and open gym/swim.

“Our goal is to have people of all ages and skill levels grow to ...

Woman Struck by Car in Bridgewater Mall Parking Lot Dies

July 12, 2018

Bridgewater, NJ - A Bedminster woman has died from her injuries after she was struck by a car in the parking lot of the Bridgewater Commons Mall Monday.

Marion Kelley, 62, was struck by a vehicle while walking in lot four near the Macy's merchandise pick up area at around 3:20 p.m. Monday.

The 2017 Mazda was driven by Chinmayi Parikh, 33, of Piscataway.

The crash is still being ...

Obituaries

Eric Lieberman, 47, of Scotch Plains, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly Tuesday, May 22, 2018 ...
Read more