January 9, 2019

KEVIN WADLOW/Free Press
Following extensive renovation, the Dairy Queen in Tavernier plans to reopen this week.

KEVIN WADLOW/Free Press Following extensive renovation, the Dairy Queen in Tavernier plans to reopen this week.

TAVERNIER — The only blizzard likely to strike the Upper Keys this winter will be the Blizzard frozen treats coming from the newly reopened Dairy Queen in Tavernier.

After more than a year of work, the Dairy Queen in the U.S. 1 median at mile marker 92.6 opened its doors to customers last weekend for the first time since Hurricane Irma.

“We’re very happy to see it happening,” said owner Sam Nekhaila. “It’s basically a brand new building. We rebuilt from the studs out.”

Other Florida Keys eateries under the auspices of the Nekhaila family also are expected to resume operations in the near future.

Next up will be the Wendy’s restaurant at 5150 Overseas Highway in Marathon, with a target opening date in mid-to-late January.

Progress also is underway at the waterfront Island Grill at Snake Creek in Islamorada, tentatively slated for reopening in June or July.

The affiliated Island Grill at Mandalay in Key Largo could open in late 2019, Nekhaila said.

“It’s all coming together after a tough year,” he said. Both oceanfront Island Grills were heavily damaged by the September 2017 hurricane.

Tavernier’s Dairy Queen offers the nationwide chain’s “Grill and Chill” menu featuring “quick-serve meals with chicken strips, hamburgers and french fries.”

Ice-cream specialities range from soft-serve cones and sundaes to a range of Blizzard treats that blend ice cream loaded with a selection of candy treats.

“We’re ready with just about a full staff” at Dairy Queen, Nekhaila said. “We had a great turnout of employees.”

The Island Grill in Islamorada, at mile marker 85.5 on the Windley Key side of the Snake Creek Bridge, plans to book a regular comedy-club feature that has proved successful at Island Grill’s temporary location on Upper Matecumbe Key.

kwadlow@keysnews.com