On Friday, September 18 something out of the ordinary happened at the Gretna Dairy Queen.
From about 7 a.m. to 5:40 p.m., almost no customers paid for their own food. For nearly eleven hours, customers decided to pay it forward.
Store manager Janie Lick said it all started when a regular customer said someone had paid for his order the other day, and that he wanted to pay for the car behind him. The car behind him did the same, followed by the car behind them.
“It just went on and on through breakfast,” Lick said. “When lunch hit, we had people that we told ‘We've been doing this since about seven this morning, the person in front of you has actually paid for your order. Would you like to pay for the person behind you to keep it going?’”
Lick said most people were happy to do so, and that some with small orders decided to give extra money just to make sure they didn’t break the chain.
“It just happened and we flew with it,” Lick said. “We didn’t have a plan or anything.”
Lick said one man who had only ordered a sundae for about two or three dollars was particularly excited.
“We told him his order was taken care of, and we had to been doing the pay it forward thing just about all day long. And he's like, ‘That is great. That's awesome.’ And he stuck out $40 just like that and he said ‘Keep it going. Keep it going as long as you can,’” Lick said.
Lick said that other than the chain of customers paying for each other’s orders it was normal, busy Friday for her restaurant. She said both regular customers and travelers seemed excited to continue the trend.
“It looked like it just brightened everybody’s day up,” Lick said.
Lick said she was at the store that day from about 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. She said employees would clap, cheer or give a thumbs-up each time a customer paid for someone else’s order. She said she was surprised the trend continued all day, especially since orders tend to become more expensive around lunchtime.
Lick said she thinks it was good for locals or people passing through to have something to get excited about.
“It’s just kind of been a blah time,” Lick said. “Just to have a little something different, something exciting, something good, I think it helped people.”