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Buffett’s Dairy Queen Returns to Trinidad After 30 Years

March 15 (Bloomberg) -- International Dairy Queen Inc. returned to Trinidad and Tobago after a 30-year hiatus as the restaurant chain of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. expands outside the U.S.

The restaurant known for its ice-cream desserts opened in December in the Caribbean nation’s capital city of Port of Spain, three decades after Dairy Queen shuttered operations there as trade laws restricted imports from the U.S., said Justin Holtkamp, vice president of international marketing. He said the franchisee is the son of the original owners.

“Mom and dad owned the first Dairy Queen,” Holtkamp said in a phone interview. “Their son brought it back” after trade laws loosened in recent years. Holtkamp didn’t identify him.

Dairy Queen, which also sells hamburgers and soft drinks, has more than 1,000 stores outside the U.S. and Canada. It opened its 500th restaurant in China last year and has more than 270 in Thailand. The company has expanded in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Guatemala and Singapore.

The franchisee in Trinidad has exclusive rights to all future Dairy Queens there, Holtkamp said. Three more locations will open in Trinidad over the next few months, the Minneapolis-based company said yesterday in a statement.

Dairy Queen, whose brands include fruit-drink maker Orange Julius and popcorn-retailer Karmelkorn, was purchased by Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire in 1998.

The ice-cream maker caters its menu to local flavors in addition to selling standard American items, Holtkamp said. Dairy Queen will add the Mango Cheesecake Blizzard dessert to its Trinidad menu.

It’s a “flavor that you’d find in more tropical markets and you would not find in the U.S.,” Holtkamp said.

Trinidad and Tobago lies off the coast of Venezuela and has a population of about 1.3 million. Economic reform and the “liberalization” of trade and investment regulations have encouraged foreign investment in the island nation, according to a 2012 report from the U.S. State Department.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Bunn in New York at ebunn1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at dkraut2@bloomberg.net

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