Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

Dairi-O breaks ground on Upward Road

Site work is under way for a Dairi-O restaurant at 140 Upward Road in front of East Henderson High School.

Dairi-O, the Winston-Salem-based hot dog, burger and ice cream specialist, has broken ground on its first restaurant in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

It's been a long time coming. The company bought the Upward Road property in 2017 and filed development applications two years later before the coronavirus pandemic stalled its plans. The Hendersonville City Council approved the annexation of a 2.6-acre triangle of vacant land in front of East Henderson High School for the restaurant in December 2019, three months before the pandemic shut down large parts of the economy.

Although the Lightning was unable to reach Dairi-O to confirm a timeline for the restaurant, a company executive shed some light on the delay in an interview with the Lenoir News-Topic last March about the opening of a Dairi-O in that foothills town.

"With COVID, it's been a lot," Rusty LaRue, the legendary 1990s Wake Forest quarterback and basketball guard who is now Dairi-O's chief operations officer, told the newspaper. "From planning to site work, a lot of things we kind of had planned on moving forward right as the pandemic hit."

The Hendersonville Dairi-O property is bounded by Upward Road, Old Upward Road and Old Spartanburg Road. The company received a zoning permit for construction of the restaurant with drive-thru on Jan. 9 and an excavator was at work this week preparing the site. The company had not yet received a building permit as of Friday, Henderson County permitting officials said. Dairi-O bought the five parcels that make up the entire tract in 2017 for $937,000, tax records show.

Founded in King in 1947, Dairi-O is open seven days a week to serve hand-dipped and soft serve ice cream, milkshakes, ice cream floats, flurries and sundaes, hot dogs (with 18 toppings), hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders and chicken Souvlaki, wings, six fresh salads, four home-made soups (chicken and rice, tomato basil, bean and bacon and chili bean) and eight sides. If that’s not enough, Dairi-O also serves fish, barbecue, chuckwagon and grilled cheese sandwiches and a BLT. Plus four more desserts: banana split, hot fudge cake, hot fudge nut brownie and strawberry shortcake. Hours are 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.