Royal Fork closes after 39 years in business

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Memories and meals: two things Royal Fork in Sioux Falls has made for nearly four decades.

“I really haven’t been able to absorb everything yet,” general manager Dana Lanz said. “Probably what’s going through my mind is when we made the announcement, obviously made a difficult business decision, the outpouring of the community. The business community. The people, the guests in the restaurant and the former employees has been unbelievable.”

The restaurant temporarily closed in March because of the pandemic and reopened May 8th; however, they didn’t have enough customers throughout the summer to stay open. In the end, COVID-19 closed down this restaurant.

“That was the reason, period. End of discussion. Just wiped us out,” Lanz said.

This was the last Royal Fork location to remain across the country.

“Royal Fork has been our favorite restaurant since we came from Chicago 19 years ago,” Orlando Rivera said. “It’s like the Sunday meal every Sunday.”

“This is my favorite restaurant,” Rivera’s granddaughter Lanae said.

Russell Hansen, who celebrated his 34th wedding anniversary today on the restaurant’s last day open, has been eating at the restaurant since it was in its original location on 41st Street.

“I used to work for a guy. We used to plow the lot over there in the winter time, so we’d work over there and then we’d eat when we were done,” Hansen said.

As for the Zachariahs’, their daughter worked at Royal Fork and it was a place for many family gatherings.

“It leaves memories,” Barry Zachariahs said. “It leaves some good thoughts of good people.”

“Well we were very happy that we could come in and have that last memory,” Jacqueline Zachariahs said. “Actually, when we were eating, I was tearing up just thinking of all the things that we went through as family here and so we were happy that we could support them on their last day and wish that it didn’t have to be that way.”

Even though Lanz didn’t expect the closure this soon, he is appreciative.

“Just thankful,” he said. “Being a part of this community is wonderful. We’re just very thankful.”

Lanz says the restaurant will have an auction on August 10th and that the Empire Mall will decide what’s next for the building.

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