The Story Behind the
Emerson Dairy Queen

Emerson Dairy Queen 1950sThe Emerson D.Q. was established in 1952 and purchased from its original owner in 1963 by the late Frank Plantamura.  The store is now owned/operated by his daughter Toni, and her husband Robert (who worked 15 years as a machine mechanic prior to coming into this family business in 1985. His mechanical abilities and talent come in quite handy at our store. He can fix anything!) The Plantamura family is the oldest family in Dairy Queen in New Jersey – since 1951 – with continuous operating in the businesses.

Frank was a pioneer in the D.Q. system opening the state’s 5th store in 1951. The franchise was not well organized yet and he learned all aspects of the business on his own. These included repairing and fixing the erratic and often difficult ice cream machines.

The family has owned/operated 5 stores in New Jersey throughout the years:Frank Plantamura, Emerson Dairy Queen

– New Brunswick (then know as Raritan) – Est. 1951
– Clark – Est. 1952
– Emerson – Est. 1952; purchased in 1963
– Rutherford – Est. 1970
– Union City – Est. 1955 – owned/operated by Frank’s sister Rose and her husband Tom Muller.

The Emerson store is the surviving “GRAND DADDY” of the original 5. It was built as an original flat-topped roof design indicative of stores back in the 1940s and 1950s. It was renovated to the popular 60s and 70s barn-style type building in the early 1970s by Frank, (our property line extended out to the middle of Kinderkamack Road until the county widened the road in 1972!)

The building remained this way until 1994-95 when Toni and Rob renovated it once again to its current retro design. The store traditionally closed every winter season since 1952 but since its last renovation remains open all year.

Our Dairy Queen business is filled with history, tradition, memories, and hard work. Toni remembers going to work with her dad all day or driving there with her mom and sister to visit him at there ice cream stores. She has vivid memories of her childhood spent inside 4 different D.Q. stores. She worked in the Clark, Emerson, Union City, and Rutherford stores when she was a kid. She was about 4 years old when her dad would hold her hand as he guided it to make a perfect D.Q. “cone with the curl on top.”

Vanilla cones were served for .10 and banana splits were about .35! She was at the Rutherford D.Q. on opening day in 1970 along with her dad when she was 16 years old.

Toni trains her employees just like her dad taught her. She’s trained over 3000 teenagers since she and Rob took over the Emerson store in 1986 and every time she takes a new kid’s hand to begin teaching them how to make D.Q.’s world famous cones, a flood of fond memories come back to her.

It is a milestone to be in a family-owned and operated business for over 60 years and is rewarding to earn a living and serve a product that makes people happy! How many people can say they have done the same?

Ther have been at least 4 marriage proposals at our store. Three at our original walk-up windows and one in our new store’s walk-in lobby in 1996. The bride and groom went on their first date to our store so he returned here in the summer of ’96 and proposed to her in our lobby.

One former employee, who worked here for 7 years, met her future husband here when she served him at our counter when she was 17. Five years later they were married.

Toni and Rob’s 27 year old daughter, Frank’s grand-daughter, has worked in the store for many years now and was raised in the Emerson store since she was a baby.  Every day she went to the “D.Q. day care” center. She even celebrated her first 8 birthdays her while mom and dad sold Christmas trees in the D.Q. parking lot when the store was closed during the winter season! She now works with us full-time as one of our store manager’s and does a great job! She is the third generation in our family continuing on the tradition of serving delicious Dairy Queen treats and giving great customer service.