Dairy Queen’s drive-thru was packed, and for a much different reason than you’d expect.
The line was actually a procession, a send-off of sorts from the Dairy Queen staff to their late employer Joseph Tenyak. Tenyak, or “Mr. T”, as he was lovingly called by family and staff, died Oct. 6.
He became interested in the food service industry after working in a commissary while in the Navy, which ultimately led to his over 50-year involvement with Dairy Queen. He and his wife, Mary Tenyak, started managing their first location together in 1961, back when it was just a seasonal soft serve stand. Together with their children Sherrie and David, they turned that seasonal stand into a year-round “Grill and Chill” location that has become a favorite place for high schoolers and families alike. Even after his retirement in 1992, Mr. Tenyak played an active role in the business. “He was involved basically all the way until now,” recalled General Manager Vicky Ikey.
The idea to have the procession came from his son, David, who took over the business after his father’s retirement. He felt it would be a fitting goodbye, and something that his father, who always put the business first, would have liked. “My dad would always ask me, ‘David, how did we do yesterday?,’” said David. Given his love of the business, he felt the Oct. 10 procession was fitting. The staff stood behind the idea as well, and at 9 a.m. all the employees, old and new, stood outside to say goodbye to Tenyak. Many of the employees worked with him before his retirement, and the goodbye was not an easy one. Carla Gerbig, who was hired by Tenyak 34 years ago, knew him well. “He and his wife were both hard workers,” she said, “and they were both a pleasure to work for.”
He is now resting in the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery, and will be missed by friends and family as well as the community. The restaurant remains open under the ownership of David.
Herald Staff Writer