In The Beginning
In 1947, Mr. Omar Smith of Bryan, Texas owned and operated a small counter-service cafe called Smitty’s Grill near Texas A&M University in College Station. Little did he know that 67 years later, he had created one of the largest, single family-owned Dairy Queen chains in the State of Texas.
When asked how he became involved with Dairy Queen, Mr. Smith stated:
“A former classmate and high school teaching friend of mine sent me a postcard saying that there was a new investment opportunity in town called Dairy Queen. I thought I might be interested so I went to check out the product. After tasting the ice milk Dairy Queen product, I told my family that anything that tastes so good has got to sell!”
Mr. Smith invested in a Dairy Queen machine and built a small compartment in front of Smitty’s Grill to house the unit. All of sudden, with only one machine in a glass-door display, he was in the “fast food” business. For three years, Mr. Smith made a small profit from that single unit endeavor.
In 1949, the Dairy Queen franchise representative approached Mr. Smith with the idea of entering the full service Dairy Queen operation. Based on his success with the ice milk unit and armed with previous success in the restaurant business, Mr. Smith built five stores in 1950 and began his new career as a Dairy Queen franchise owner.
In 1951, Omar Smith and his wife, Elouise, hold the distinction of being the only individuals to host a Texas Dairy Queen Convention at their home in Bryan, Texas. This was the first Dairy Queen Convention, which included room and board, meals and business sessions.
In addition to running his Dairy Queen Company, Mr. Smith became the tennis coach for Texas A&M University in 1959. He coached successfully there for 16 years.
In 1969, Mr. Smith’s son, Terry, graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in business. Terry Smith spent his entire life as part of the Texas Dairy Queen system as he was born the same year that his father became a Dairy Queen franchisee. Terry managed his first store as a high school junior while dating Karen, who would become his wife four years later. Following his father’s death in 1980, Terry ran the family business for 31 years. He passed away in 2011.
Smith Dairy Queens is now a third generation company. Terry Smith’s wife, Karen, and family own and oversee the business.
From a small counter-service cafe to one of the first Texas Dairy Queen franchisees, it is from this humble beginning in 1947 that Smith Dairy Queens grew to 39 stores located throughout central Texas today.