North Omaha has a long history of segregated businesses. Informal Jim Crow rules kept African Americans from owning, operating, and enjoying many businesses in the community. This is a history of North Omaha’s Black-owned Dairy Queen franchise.
After soft-serve ice cream was invented in 1938, the first Dairy Queen opened in 1940 in Illinois. There were more than 2,500 franchises by 1950, including four in Omaha.
In 1950, a new Dairy Queen opened at 1922 North 24th Streets, on the corner of Blondo Street between the Near North Side neighborhood and the Long School Neighborhood. It was notable to the Omaha Star when the business hired an African American woman to work the counter. It operated without note for several years.
In 1958, the Omaha Star reported that “Albert ‘Al’ Tibbs, popular young man about town, recently invested his future in the Near Northside.” For the next several years, Tibbs operated the Dairy Queen.
The business closed around 1963, and Tibbs was working as an employment counselor for the Nebraska Employment Service by 1969.
After it was Dairy Queen, the building on the southwest corner of North 24th and Blondo served many other purposes, including being Sadie’s Bakery. The pic at the beginning of this article shows the building as of 2019.
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- History of Black-Owned Businesses in Omaha
- History of North 24th Street
- History of the Near North Side Neighborhood