OPH battered by the storm


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Businesses in Plaza 41 at 41st and Kiwanis in Sioux Falls are still cleaning up after last week’s tornado and wondering when they might be able get back open.

The Original Pancake House has operated out of the strip mall for the past 13 years.

Taking a walk through the Original Pancake House this week, you can see it’s a battered business.

“It was a mess. The ceiling tiles were all down. Things were upside down. It was just a mess,” co-owner Janet Eining said.

A mess that has the restaurant flipped on its side. Co-owner Janet Eining says it’s currently closed because tornado damage weakened the structural integrity of the building. Eining has been getting texts and calls from longtime guests for days.

Matt Holsen: They’re probably asking you when this is going to open back up.

Eining: Yeah they are and I wish I had an answer. We’re not going to know anything until the structural engineer comes in and says, ‘Yes, you can go ahead and rebuild or no, you’re going to have to move.’

That report could take weeks. Her concern right now is her 45 employees. Everyone is safe even though two were in the building the night of the tornado prepping for the next day.

“We knew we had two people in there. They got out. One of them went in the cooler and the other one couldn’t hear because she had her earbuds on. So she just worked through it until things started falling down,” Eining said.

Nobody was hurt and thanks to good insurance, all of the staff will be paid their full wages plus tips until OPH is able to get back on its feet.

“It’s really kind of been a roller coaster. I think not just for us but for everybody in the community,” Manager Brandy Ramm said.

“There’s a lot of memories attached to this building. There’s a lot of memories attached to this entire strip mall and it’s just very sad,” Ramm said.

Manager Brandy Ramm, a mother of four who’s also in college, is grateful she doesn’t have to find another job in the meantime.

“That’s fantastic. I know there’s a lot of people who have lost some things. There’s some employees at some of these businesses that aren’t that fortunate. We’re incredibly blessed that we have that opportunity to still be receiving a paycheck even though our building is destroyed,” Ramm said.

Eining says they deserve it. Right after the tornado hit, the restaurant realized its coolers were full of 80 gallons worth of pancake batter along with cases of blueberries and strawberries. Much of that was donated to The Banquet and that’s not all.

“Our assistant kitchen manager, the next day, went down and made pancakes for everybody. God bless him for doing that for us,” Eining said.

Matt Holsen: You’re in the middle of this disaster and you think of giving back. Why do that?

Eining: I don’t know. It’s just how I think. You just want to help everybody you can. It was going to rot in there. It really isn’t that hard of a decision Matt. You just do what you can do to help everybody under a really difficult time.

While it’s not stacking up to be a good month, things could be much worse.

“We’re going to be fine. I don’t want to cry. There’s a higher power looking out for all of us and we’re all going to fine,” Eining said.

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