The warm weather has finally arrived and it’s officially ice cream season! Simon and Jessica Tran’s Dunbar Dairy Queen/Orange Julius franchise is a year round destination, yet summer is by far their busiest season as hot Dunbarites come in looking for their favourite frozen treats and beverages.
The couple are thrilled to be celebrating their tenth year as DQ franchise owners. Simon admits that winter was challenging with multiple snowfalls followed by the wettest spring in many years, but they are grateful to their customers who continued to come in for DQ’s treats (Blizzards, soft ice cream, sundaes and legendary ice cream cakes), and Orange Julius’ drinks and hot dogs.
Prior to being a DQ franchise owner Simon worked as a crane operator. When he decided it was time for a career change, a friend who owns a DQ franchise suggested Simon explore this option. Simon was convinced – he believed in the product and signed up.
In 2008 the Dunbar DQ store was new to the area; DQ’s corporate office made the decision to put in a small-scale treat centre rather than a full service DQ grill.
Dunbar’s DQ has succeeded thanks to exceptional products and outstanding customer service.
Simon and Jessica work as a team – he makes the cakes and she decorates them. Customers can order from the extensive designs offered or they can request a custom cake.
He makes the ice cream cakes three times a week for optimum freshness. The store was originally equipped with three display cases but due to the popularity of the cakes he expanded to five cases. “My cakes have to be the freshest in town. I make them as I go. I don’t have the space to store them.” In addition, he also makes the DQ Sandwiches and Dilly Bars.
Dunbar DQ’s top seller is the Dunbar Special Blizzard. Simon laughs and says, “It is also known as the Simon Special.”
This popular Blizzard is created with Reese’s peanut butter, a cookie layer and a shot of liquid peanut butter sauce.
Simon is extremely warm and jovial and is instantly likeable. He and Jessica are originally from Vietnam and both were boat people. Jessica started her new life as a Canadian in Edmonton while Simon lived in Halifax. They met in Vancouver in 1989 and married soon afterward.
Simon bounced around between foster homes and group homes until he was adopted at age 12. He has only positive words to say about his Canadian parents. Regarding his tough early years Simon says, “It made me wiser and stronger. I didn’t have anything until my parents took me in and gave me unconditional love.” His optimistic attitude did not allow him to give up. Simon is very humble and wants to share his story to let others know that it is possible to turn your life around.
Like many small business people Simon works incredibly long hours. For many years he clocked 16-hour days and it caught up with him. He was missing spending time with his young son and he decided he couldn’t do that anymore; he has managed to shorten his days to a mere 12 hours. He smiles and says, “I am blessed and I am happy.”
He doesn’t know where he and Jessica would be without her parents who help with their 8-year-old son TJ. Simon is also extremely grateful for his older daughter Vanesa who is now in nursing school; she assisted her mother and father for many years at the shop. TJ also likes to lend a hand sweeping floors and cleaning windows. Simon believes in starting early to instill a strong work ethic.
“I feel so blessed that I am part of this wonderful community.” Simon Tran
Dunbar DQ believes in giving back to the community that actively supports them; one way they do this is through donations to schools. Simon mentions all of the school kids who come by for treats. He says, “May is my favourite month when students I have seen grow up come in to tell me where they are going to university in the fall. Some will return later to tell me how they are doing.”
Celebrating a 10-year anniversary is a milestone for any business. For Simon the most important message to communicate to Dunbar Life readers is his how thankful he is for their patronage. He says, “What I most appreciate about Dunbar is the people – the families and the kids who have supported me for the last 10 years. Please mention that, won’t you?” I remind Simon that what you give out is what you get back – he likes that.
Dunbar Dairy Queen/Orange Julius
3380 Dunbar Street, Vancouver BC V6S 2C1