FARMINGTON — In 1954 "From Here to Eternity" won an Oscar for best picture, Hank Aaron hit his first home run and Dairy Queen opened on Main Street.

"This was the edge of town," said Sonia Dahms, the store owner.

This year, Dahms is celebrating the ice cream and fast food restaurant's 60th anniversary.

The store plans to offer 60-cent cones and hot dogs on Sept. 10 and 11 in commemoration of the anniversary.

"This is about the store," she said.

The store opened on June 1, 1954, she said, and she is the fourth owner. She has been in charge for the past 25 years.

When the store opened she said, it was a walk up store, served mainly ice cream and would close in the winters, a practice that continued into the 1980s.

The Dairy Queen on East Main Street in Farmington, pictured here on Aug. 20, is celebrating its 60th anniversary.
The Dairy Queen on East Main Street in Farmington, pictured here on Aug. 20, is celebrating its 60th anniversary. (Alexa Rogals/The Daily Times)

Teenagers also used Dairy Queen as the eastern turnaround marker when they would cruise downtown in the 50s.

Her husband, Brad Dahms, helps her run the store. He said the couple has routinely asked community members for old pictures of the store but they haven't gotten any.

"This was redone in 1985," Brad Dahms said.

Workers tore down and rebuilt the restaurant. Only the concrete slab remained from the original store.

"This is the oldest fast food restaurant in town," Brad Dahms said.

Dahms says his wife is the owner of the Main Street location, but the couple has also owned other stores in the area.

They sold the Dairy Queen on Dustin Avenue about 10 years ago, and also built and sold a Dairy Queen store in Aztec.

Sonia Dahms, 50, said she started working at a Dairy Queen in Illinois at the age of 16.

In her early 20s, she attended college and upon graduation, her family wanted to purchase a Dairy Queen store. The family embarked on a nation-wide search and finally found a deal in New Mexico that included the purchase of the two Farmington stores and one in Gallup.

"Dairy Queen has a great product," she said.

Eventually, her family sold the Gallup store and she now focuses her efforts on the Main Street store with her husband.

Their day begins at 7 a.m., four hours before the store opens, and Sonia said she'll work about six to eight hours most days, but knows that at anytime, her day may turn into a 15-hour workday.

"It's hard to find good workers," she said.

The pair has plans to remodel the external part of the store next year, part of their goal to constantly improve their business.

"We are always looking to improve," Brad Dahms said.

Another change they have embraced is Dairy Queen's menu makeover. Once an ice-cream-only establishment, now patrons can order a burger, fries, an ice cream cake and sundaes.

The Main Street store has made changes to accommodate the expanded menu, including utilizing empty space by installing a kitchen and a sitting area for customers.

"When I bought the store, there was nothing," Sonia Dahms said.

And Farmington has expanded, the couple acknowledged.

"We still in the center of town," Sonia Dahms said.

"And we're on Main Street," Brad Dahms added.

The couple said people will stop in and share stories about the Dairy Queen when it was at the edge of town, and they appreciate those stories.

Brad Dahms said they don't plan to move the store because of the support it receives from the community.

"The store couldn't survive 60 years without the support of the community and that's what we have," he said.

Sonia Dahms agreed.

"This works for us. People in this town will drive for good food and good service," she said.

Erny Zah is The Daily Times business editor. He can be reached at 505-564-4638.and Follow him @ernyzah on Twitter.