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Dairy Queen franchisee donates 100 percent of profits to nonprofit

Dairy Queen donates 100 percent of profits to nonprofit

Dairy Queen franchisee Tra Williams explains where the money from his Bradenton DQ location goes.
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Dairy Queen franchisee Tra Williams explains where the money from his Bradenton DQ location goes.

A new DQ Grill & Chill is serving more than ice cream and hamburgers.

The location at 8307 State Road 64 is run under a unique franchise agreement. All of the location’s profits — after paychecks are issued to employees and bills are paid — are donated to Lakeview Associated Enterprises, an affiliate of Baptist Health Care’s Pensacola-based Lakeview Center.

Baptist Health Care seeks to “improve the quality of life by providing superior service based on Christian values,” according to the nonprofit’s 990 form filed in 2014.

Tra Williams, franchisee of the new DQ, has worked in franchise restaurant management for all of his career. He was president of Planet Smoothie and a consultant for other brands seeking to franchise when he got a call from a former professor, offering the opportunity with Lakeview. As soon as he met the leadership team at the Lakeview Center and learned more about the organization, Williams was sold.

“The mission of helping people overcome life’s challenges sounds ambiguous, but when you meet some of the people we serve you think, ‘Gosh, you know I’ve never been challenged in that way,’ ” Williams said. “I feel an obligation to help those who have and those who weren’t afforded the blessings that you and I have.”

The Lakeview Center has three divisions:

▪ Behavioral health to help people struggling with mental illness and/or addiction;

▪ Child protective services;

▪ Global connections to employment to help those with physical or mental barriers gain employment.

The fourth Lakeview Center division is Lakeview Associated Enterprises, for which Williams is COO. He is an employee of Lakeview Center and all of the Dairy Queen employees under Williams’ purview are Lakeview Associated Enterprises employees. The 3,000-square-foot East Bradenton location employs 68 people, Williams said.

Williams said he has two other locations operated under Lakeview Associated Enterprises in Hillsborough County and Pasco County.

The amount of money we're able to profit out of these units is significant considering the volume of top-line revenue the hospital would have to do to net the same amount of dollars

Tra Williams, franchisee, Dairy Queen

Lakeview Center decided to take this particular path for funding support when it became clear years ago that funding for mental illness coming from Washington, D.C., and Tallahassee wasn’t dependable. Choosing Dairy Queen was easy, Williams said, because of the company’s track record of working with charitable organizations. Dairy Queen, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, has conducted fundraisers on behalf of Children’s Miracle Network since 1984.

The choice to work with Williams and Lakeview Center was a no-brainer, said Dairy Queen Inc. Vice President of Franchise Sales and Development Mike Mettler.

“What’s in it for Dairy Queen is working with a great group that’s aligned with the same values as the company; of giving back like our work with the Children’s Miracle Network,” Mettler said.

The East Bradenton location opened on Feb. 20 and can be reached at 941-708-1792.

For more information about the Lakeview Center, visit elakeviewcenter.org.

Janelle O’Dea: 941-745-7095, @jayohday

East Bradenton Dairy Queen hours

  • Monday through Thursday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
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