Sioux Falls diners might buzz about the latest restaurant openings, and many flock to the drive-thrus of chains such as Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s and Starbucks.
But as those new restaurants represent a growing city, longstanding establishments represent the roots of Sioux Falls, how it’s changed over the years and the people who have kept them running.
Some, in fact, have been open for 50 years or more.
Maybe you remember hot summer nights with a strawberry cone dripping on your hand as a child, Labor Day picnics boasting buckets of fried chicken, celebrating your grandparents’ anniversary with a nice dinner out, or late-night study sessions running on coffee and pancakes with friends before tests.
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These restaurants are institutions of Sioux Falls, and their legacies remain in the memories made at their tables.
Take a look at the 10 oldest still-operating restaurants in Sioux Falls and their histories below. The list does not include national chain restaraunts.
10. Szechwan Chinese: 36 years
The Szechwan Chinese Restaurant first opened in 1986 at 423 S. Phillips Ave. by Yuy Kong Chhen, a refugee from Cambodia who moved to the United States in 1979.
By 1989, Chhen opened a second restaurant on Minnesota Avenue near Fifth Street and a third location at 41st and Kiwanis in 1990.
Chhen was shot to death in the kitchen of his Minnesota Avenue kitchen in late 1990. A former restaurant cook was accused of the murder, but was later acquitted after a jury determined there was not sufficient evidence to convict him. Chhen’s wife, Fong, took over the business after his death.
While the Phillips Avenue location closed in 1998, both the Minnesota and W. 41st Street locations are still open. Sushi Masa fills the former Phillips Avenue location.
9. Dareo’s: 36 years
What is now Dareo’s Pizza Casino first opened in 1986 as Dareo’s Pizza and Pasta at 3301 E. 26th St. by Keith and Pam Myrmoe. The couple opened the restaurant with the help of Pam’s sister and brother-in-law, the original Dareo, who had previously owned an Italian restaurant in Nevada.
The two used Dareo’s original, homemade recipes of meatballs, lasagna, soups, pasta and more. Dareo’s parents were originally from Italy, so the recipes were authentic, said Pam, who is president and owner of Myrmoe Enterprises, which includes several Sioux Falls commercial properties, bars and restaurants.
Dareo’s was the first restaurant in the area to serve hot chicken wings, which “caught on real good,” Pam recalled. They also offered delivery services before Domino’s arrived in Sioux Falls.
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Dareo’s Pizza and Pasta changed its name to Dareo’s Pizza Casino in 1989 when video lottery machines were allowed in restaurants. The casino expanded to a second location at 2920 S. Minnesota Ave. in 1990.
And while the menu has changed in the 36 years Dareo’s has been open to include a variety of food, including burgers, it’s still a family affair.
“With the help of three generations now, we’ve continued our ventures and our memories,” said Pam, 74.
8. Rosie’s Cafe: 38 years
Rosie Warner bought Curly’s Madison Square Cafe in 1984, christening it Rosie’s Cafe. Beckie Mettler, Warner’s daughter, bought the restaurant in 2015.
Over its 38-year history, Argus Leader food writers have circled back to the “little slice of heaven” tucked away on West Madison Street, boasting about the cafe’s comfort food.
“There’s nothing fancy at Rosies. No frills or big-ticket items, just simple, home cooking,” one 2009 article read. “The daily specials feature classic meals — baked chicken, turkey, goulash — with each meal priced at $4.50. Rosie’s also offers hamburgers, a la carte sandwiches, meatloaf and breakfast menu daily.”
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According to a 1995 article, the cafe was renowned for its bread pudding. And another 1994 article called the cafe “charming.”
“Rosie’s is a real addition to good old-style food in Sioux Falls,” the article read.
7. Nick’s Gyros: 40 years
Andreas Sengos opened Nick’s Gyros in 1982 in the Empire East Mall, serving a blend of Greek and American food, or “Greek fast food,” according to an Argus Leader food writer.
Sengos, who lived in Sioux City at the time, opened the store at the suggestion of his friend Nick Triantafillou from Omaha, who had opened the original Nick’s Gyros in Omaha. Sengos commuted from Sioux City for two years to run the business.
After helping Sengos for a few years, Triantafillou sold the business to him. Sengos then expanded Nick’s Gyros to its current location at 1512 W. 41st St. to add drive-thru service.
“I like how the name sounded,” Sengos said about starting the business. “Nick’s Gyro is not a franchise — just a family restaurant. The name choice seemed to work well for us. It’s funny a lot of people call me ‘Nick.'”
6. Fry’n Pan: 41 years
Before Sioux Falls became the headquarters in 1981 of the regional family-friendly restaurant — and the 24-hour eatery and gathering place for students or after-bar breakfasts for young adults — Fry’n Pan was part of the Cincinnati-based Country Kitchen empire.
Country Kitchen opened its first Sioux Falls location in 1971 at 4204 W. 41st St., and franchise owner Dan Paterson quickly opened a second location in 1973 and a third in 1976. Peterson and his partners also opened locations in Yankton; Fargo, North Dakota; Wahpeton, North Dakota; and Moorhead, Minnesota.
“Fryn’ Pan is a constant for Sioux Falls. Any time of day, seven days a week, a good breakfast can be had. There’s something comforting about that,” wrote Argus Leader contributor Eric Renshaw.
5. Minervas: 45 years
While Minervas has been a Sioux Falls fine-dining establishment since 1977, when its building was sold to Paul Van Bockern and Dave Thompson and named “Minerva’s Corner Creperie,” the building itself has been serving Sioux Falls diners since 1917.
The building has served as swanky restaurants, a fruit and candy shop, a “Palace of Sweets,” and a restaurant where diners could eat peanuts and throw the shells on the floor.
But Thompson and Van Bockern bought the restaurant at a time when Sioux Falls was “becoming a boom town for restaurants” as dining out became a national trend, and they had plenty of competition to establish themselves.
“The pie can only be cut so small and the strong will survive, no doubt,” Van Bockern told the Argus Leader in 1978. “If you’ve got good food and service, people will walk through a plowed field to get to you.”
They expanded the inside of the restaurant to include a small cocktail lounge to accommodate private parties of up to 100 people. But the restaurant’s lasting legacy is its salad bar, originally called a “do-it-yourself deli-bar.”
Minervas expanded into a regional chain through WR Hospitality, but sold its original Sioux Falls location to Vanguard Hospitality in 2016.
4. Roll’n Pin: 45 years
Roll’n Pin originally opened its doors in 1974 as Smitty’s Pancake House, a Seattle-based chain. When Smitty’s and Perkins merged in the late 1970s, the Sioux Falls restaurant “decided to be independent of chains.”
Then-owner Randy Hillman re-opened as Roll’n Pin Restaurant in 1977 as a family business, and has continued to serve Sioux Falls with his son Michael Hillman now leading the business as Roll’n Pin Cafe and Grill + Catering. Inside its restaurant at 3015 W. Russell St., hundreds of rolling pins decorated its walls.
“It’s amazing. My dad started this restaurant when he was 19,” Michael told the Argus Leader in 2016. “He has made adjustments along the way with the goal of building a local business. We think the restaurant has discovered Sioux Falls tastes.”
While the northern Sioux Falls restaurant is closed for the time being, Roll’n Pin continues to serve breakfast and brunch, sandwiches, soups and salads in addition to a range of menu items through its catering business. Michael also purchased the Tre Lounge in 2021, planning to revive the restaurant with Roll’n Pin’s “authentic, homemade background.”
“Catering is going extremely strong, so we will keep that on,” Michael said in a recent interview. “We have a great brand and presence. … But anything is possible in the future. Whether it’s opening a restaurant at a different location or the old one, Roll’n Pin has a good brand and a good backing from the community.”
3. Crack’d Pot: 48 years
The Crack’d Pot in Sioux Falls is the last restaurant standing of what once was a chain of 14 restaurants. And the family restaurant at 1420 N. Minnesota Ave. has been owned by three generations of the Anderson family.
Kurt Anderson was one of the core owners of Crack’d Pot and Truck Haven restaurants in South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska, opening a Sioux Falls location in 1974 and expanding to a second location at 2700 S. Minnesota Ave. in 1977.
In 1992, Anderson and his son, Mike, separated South Dakota locations from the franchise, and the restaurant’s name changed to KC’s Restaurant, after Kurt and his wife, Carol.
The name changed back to The Crack’d Pot in 2010, but the logo still has the letters KC in the center as a tribute to Kurt and Carol.
Kurt’s grandson, Alex, now owns the Crack’d Pot. The restaurant still serves some of the same “good homemade food” it originally offered, including homemade pies and soups, along with several new menu items.
2. The Keg Chicken: 54 years
Chicken wasn’t always in the name for The Keg, but it was always a staple.
Originally, the business was The Keg Beer Lounge, opened in 1968, at 3601 E. 10th St. Hal and Donna Larsen bought the restaurant on East 10th Street in 1979. The Larsens’ son and daughter-in-law, Neil and Vonnie, became partners in the The Keg in 1995 along with John Cassidy. The Keg moved into a new space on 26th and Sycamore that same year, adding in catering services in 2000, and expanding to 57th Street and Marion Road in 2005.
The restaurant dropped “Beer Lounge” in 2000, becoming known as simply “The Keg,” Vonnie told the Argus Leader.
The Keg is one of the most popular fried chicken joints in Sioux Falls, earning the city’s Best Fried Chicken title in 2003 as a Sioux Falls “institution” and earning the title of “holy grail of chicken” in a 2006 Argus Leader article.
The east-side location closed in 2010 due to a lag in business, and the west-side location closed in 2012. However, the chicken could be found shortly after at the Lakes Bar and Grill at the Lakes Golf Course near Madison after Neil and Vonnie ran the restaurant there.
It wasn’t until 2015 that The Keg returned to Sioux Falls and took over Sneaky’s Chicken at 4211 W. 12th St.
The Larsens’ daughters, Cassie Scott and Becky Mammenga, also have part ownership of The Keg and will be taking it over in the next generation.
1. B&G Milkyway: 68 years
The oldest restaurant in Sioux Falls is nearing 70 years old.
Ray Starks opened Ray’s Drive Inn, a burger joint with carhops on 12th and Lake Avenue — where Bob’s Cafe used to stand. In 1951, he moved the Drive Inn to 1400 W. 12th St., where it became a hit. Before long, Starks built a walk-up establishment to the west, which he called Milky Way, serving soft serve ice cream and footlongs.
However, it’s unclear just when he built Milky Way.
Starks ran the Milky Way until the mid-1960s, when he sold it to Bertha and Guy Higgens, who added their initials to the name. Higgens, who was in his 70s, died a few years after buying the shop, and Bertha then sold the business to Gerry Bruget. Bruget bought B&G the same year the third Sioux Falls McDonald’s opened just to the west of the shop.
Though he feared the fast food juggernaut would undercut his prices and drive him out, he was able to stay in business thanks to a loyal customer base, Eric Renshaw wrote for the Argus Leader in 2017.
In 1979, Bruget bought a failed hamburger stand at 5508 W. 41st St. and turned it into the second B&G Milky Way. Here he continued in the same tradition as the original location but added a drive-through window.
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Bruce and Pam Bettmeng took ownership of the two locations in 1992, promising in the Argus Leader that turtle sundaes and strawberry cones would remain on the menu.
Over the years, the menu has only slightly changed, with additions such as slushwhips and sloppy joes.
The Bettmengs franchised the business in 2001, with franchisees adding six more locations across Sioux Falls, Tea and Harrisburg since.