Dairy Queen is sweet on Los Angeles.

The 76-year-old Minneapolis ice-cream maker is planning on opening 50 to 60 stores in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange counties in the next decade. It would be a significant step up from the brand’s 98 locations in California.

“Those four counties represent one of the most populated areas and probably one of the biggest restaurant markets in the country,” Mike Mettler, director of national franchise sales at American Dairy Queen Corp., a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, said last week. “They really represent one of the biggest growth opportunities for Dairy Queen as a brand.”

The L.A. move is part of Dairy Queen’s nationwide push of its quick-service restaurant concept DQ Grill & Chill, which includes new locations and conversions of existing stores. Started in 2002, the restaurant has a menu with burgers and chicken sandwiches that the company hopes can compete with Jack in the Box and Burger King.

“The cost of real estate has risen, and competition in our segment has increased, so it’s important to be in the right location,” said Mettler, adding it must be a stand-alone building able to accommodate a drive-thru. “To get the right location, we need a broad menu so people come more frequently.”

Fifty percent to 60 percent of a Dairy Queen’s store revenue comes from the drive-through, said Mettler, although he declined to provide average revenue figures. The company said that those looking to open a franchise need at least $400,000 in equity and almost an acre of land. It is taking its time finding the properties and partners in the area.

“We want to open stores that will be around another 76 years,” he said.

Japanese Food Deal

One of L.A.’s oldest and most prominent importers of Japanese foods and restaurant supplies is being acquired by a $1.3 billion Japanese company, according to Bloomberg.

Takara Holdings Inc., based in Kyoto, Japan, announced earlier this month it would pay $8.16 million for downtown’s Mutual Trading Co. Inc.

Founded in 1926, Mutual Trading has branches and affiliates across the United States, Japan, and Peru. The company sells about 5,000 items, including sake, noodles, and towel warmers. It began as a co-op serving early Japanese immigrants in Southern California, according to its website.

Takara Holdings owns three businesses focused on alcoholic beverages and seasonings, biomedics, and health foods. Its relationship with Mutual Trading is part of its goal to expand and increase business in the company’s global wholesale food network, according to its website.

No one was available for comment at Mutual Trading.

Pie Pieces

Fast-casual restaurant 800 Degrees Neopolitan Pizzeria opened a location in Playa Vista last week. It’s the 16th outpost of the restaurant, which first launched in Brentwood in 2012 and now has locations in Las Vegas, Dubai, and Tokyo. In addition to its regular pizzas and salads, the new spot will serve sandwiches made with pizza dough.

It hopes to make customers out of nearby tech firms including Google and Yahoo, according to the chain’s press release. The restaurant was started by Umami Burger founder Adam Fleischman and chef Anthony Carron. Umami Restaurant Group sold its stake in 800 Degrees to Murfey Ventures, a family office in Ohio, in June.

Staff reporter Caroline Anderson can be reached at canderson@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 556-8329.

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