With Red Arrow, Arnie’s and Dairy Queen, what’s old is new on Loudon Road

  • Jasmine Reinert, 18, of Salem serves customers seated at the bar at the Red Arrow Diner on Loudon Road in Concord on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Reinert previously worked at the Londonderry location before transferring to the new Concord restaurant. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staffA sign for the Red Arrow Diner marks the restaurant’s new location on Loudon Road in Concord on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The Red Arrow, along with Dairy Queen, have been doing brisk business at their recently opened franchises on Loudon Road.

  • People eat at the new location of Red Arrow Diner on Loudon Road in Concord on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • The entrance to the Red Arrow Diner ‘is’s new location on Loudon Road in Concord is shown Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Long-anticipated restaurants Red Arrow and DQ are enjoying their first weeks on Loudon Road. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Sunday, July 30, 2017

In the weeks since the Red Arrow Diner and Dairy Queen made their long-anticipated debuts on Loudon Road, the restaurants have been overrun.

In its fourth location, Red Arrow set a company sales record in its opening week, veteran server Angela Machado said. The 24-hour diner – a new wrinkle in Concord’s restaurant scene – has at times struggled to keep the shelves stocked with ingredients for its most popular offerings, she said.

“People are loving it,” Machado said. “They’re saying that Concord needed a diner like this for a very long time.”

The Dairy Queen district manager, Nick Amlaw, said he intentionally skipped advertising for the new location to avoid being “overflooded with the fans” on the soft-serve chain’s opening day.

Even so, the DQ dining room’s line stretched out the door and the drive-thru’s line was “almost out to the street,” he said.

Twitter user Adrian Bolte commented on DQ’s first Saturday night: “I think there are more people at the new Dairy Queen in Concord than there are people at the Steeplegate Mall.”

When the restaurants were first noted as proposals in planning documents last year, the community was quick to react to these well-known chains coming to Loudon Road.

While some expressed excitement, others showed concern for the independently owned competitors that have been long-established on the same strip.

As the owner of Arnie’s place, a decades-old burger-and-ice-cream joint, Tom Arnold has been the object of people’s sympathy recently.

In fact, he said, wherever he goes people stop him – “hey, you’re Arnie, right?” – to see how life has been at the business since the new guys came to town.

“You’ll be at the bank teller and they’ll mention something like this,” he said.

While he was catering an event at the Currier Museum in Manchester recently, he said, “It was amazing. People down there even recognized who we were. ... It makes you feel pretty damn good.”

It’s not all peachy – he said Arnie’s Place has seen an 8 percent to 10 percent loss over the past few weeks.

But Arnold said that’s what he was expecting. Although the first week after Dairy Queen was especially painful, he said he’s adapting his business model to fill in the loss in other ways.

“We’ve been trying very hard to make that up in other directions, doing more catering, more festivals, things like that,” he said.

“We have a very loyal clientele. I mean, it’s amazing. It’s almost like an extended family. People are always coming up to us, saying, ‘Hey, we’re still with you. We went and tried it, and we’re back,’ ” he added.

With the Red Arrow Diner’s reputation in Manchester as a popular spot for food after the bars close, some locals worried about what might happen in Concord, given the distance between the city’s nightlife and its new 24-hour diner.

Machado, a server who worked for more than two years at the Londonderry location before moving to the new one in Concord, said the restaurant was full to the brim at 3 a.m. on its first Saturday.

“We definitely get our rushes just after the bars let out, for sure,” she said. “It’s a younger crowd.”

Police haven’t witnessed any spillover cases of drinking and driving, Lt. Sean Ford said. The most colorful call the police have received for the restaurant since its opening was for a report that a driver left two huskies unattended in a car.

After a routine trip to drop off paperwork, Ford said, one officer checked in with the Red Arrow employees and wrote: “They’ve had no issues other than they’re getting low on food, which probably means they’re doing good business.”

On the Red Arrow’s opening day, July 14, Machado said: “It was absolutely insane. We had lines all the way out to the sidewalk.”

The Dairy Queen, for its part, is new and old at once. It’s been gone a long time, but some of the old-timers have come in reminiscing about past experiences buying soft-serve ice cream at a previous DQ on Loudon Road.

“They said they’ve been waiting 30 years for it to come back,” Amlaw said. “We’re finally back, and they’re excited, so it’s great.”

National Night Out

Concord’s National Night Out is set for Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Rollins Park.

The annual event promotes community-building and partnerships between neighbors and police.

Concord’s rendition of the national campaign will include demonstrations from the police and fire departments, contests and kids’ events from parks and recreation and a host of vehicles on display from police cruisers to a black hawk helicopter.

“Come down and meet your public safety friends for fun, food and festivities,” says a poster for the event. “Let’s give crime a going-away party!”

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @NickBReid.)