November 5, 2020 – West Bend, WI – The owner of Jumbo’s Frozen Custard, Jeff Kern, spoke before the West Bend Plan Commission on Wednesday evening asking how they could justify selling the Mutual Mall to Dairy Queen.
The Mutual Mall, formerly Larson’s Furniture, 1043 S. Main Street, was sold in July 2020 to Kevin Schneumann and is proposed as the new site for Dairy Queen.
Kern said he appeared before the Plan Commission in 2003 when he proposed investing over $1 million to redevelop the A&W property across the street after it sat vacant following a fire and make it into an independent custard shop.
“While I’m not at all against Kevin or the Dairy Queen to reestablish itself in West Bend it is amazing to me that the City would sell a piece of property to a business that competes directly against me,” said Kern.
“I’m a free-market guy but I don’t understand the purpose of planning commission when the City is actively involved in putting the same frozen dessert-treat service with similar hot dogs, similar hamburgers, similar French fries, as a matter of fact the person who delivers my custard mix will go right across the street and deliver to Kevin.”
“It seems to me that’s a lack of foresight among the City of West Bend in allowing something like that to happen.”
Kern said DQ offered a beautiful building and expressed a lot of opportunity in West Bend for the business to move forward, but questioned why they would locate it across the street from a similar business.
“I just don’t understand why it goes directly across the street from me,” Kern said. “And hits me right in the wallet the minute this vote goes through.”
Kern said, “Any opportunity for future sales will be directly related to the vote happening right now. Evidently the $1.3 million I invested in Jumbo’s when I built, the 17 years of community service and support, the $6 million or $7 million in payroll means nothing to the people sitting in this room.”
“For you to sell a parcel to these people so I can look out the window of my business at my competition. I just want to go on record saying that’s disappointing and I will be here to fight for every customer I have but this chamber is making it very difficult to succeed in this endeavor,” Kern said.
City of West Bend development director Mark Piotrowicz said the property was zoned B-1 commercial and the decision to sell the property was up to the Common Council and not the Plan Commission.
The Plan Commission then voted unanimously in favor of the site plan for Dairy Queen. Those voting included Jed Dolnick, Bernie Newman, Sara Fleischman, Steve Hoogester, Chris Jenkins and Max Marechal.
Absent from the Plan Commission were Mike Staral, Bryce Gannon and Chris Schmidt.
The site plan must still go before the Common Council for approval.