Oprah’s Magazine Features Brookings Restaurant

A former talk show queen and current media mogul seems to have an appetite for a Brookings restaurant.  The Pheasant Restaurant is a longtime staple in the South Dakota town.  Even after more than 60 years in business, it is still getting national attention.  The latest accolade is a shout-out in Oprah’s O Magazine. 

Hunger is no match for The Pheasant Restaurant. 

“Today I ordered the taco salad.  Personally one of my favorites,” Troy Geiman said. 

If you are hunting for something special, here is a target to set your sights on.  

“It’s a little slice of Heaven,” Geiman said. 

He is referring to the pheasant salad sandwich. Apparently, it is so good, it is even getting an ovation from Oprah’s magazine.
July’s issue features The Pheasant Restaurant and the pheasant salad sandwich as part of its Favorite Food Finds article.

“We’re kind of in the background a little bit, so it’s kind of nice to get the kitchen, you know, some recognition,” Jill Haack, kitchen manager, said. 

The article has already created a buzz around the dish, which did not surprise anyone. 

“Uhh, looks like we’re going to be making some more pheasant salad and that did turn out to be the case,” Michael Johnson, general manager, said. 

So, the big question is, how do you make something worthy of a mention in a national publication?

“This is a rye bread,” Haack said. 

Sounds like a good start.

“This will toast up,” Haack said. 

This is all just a warm-up — literally– for the star of the show. 

“Pretty good portion on there,” Haack said. 

It is a mixture of pecans, cranberries, celery, a dash of this and pinch of that, and of course: pheasant. 

“We do have people ask if there’s real pheasant meat in there.  Yes, there is real pheasant meat,” Haack said. 

Do you want to know the secret ingredient to why the pheasant salad sandwich is so successful?  You will not find it any cabinet or drawer, because it is a family, always trying to give back to the customers who have kept them in business for more than half a century. 

“We very often write in little love letters to South Dakota, you know, and the pheasant salad is kind of a historical dish.  It was fed to the military, people being deployed and going to guard camps during World War II in Aberdeen.  So, pheasant salad sandwich was a no-brainer.  We had to add it to the menu,” Johnson said. 

Johnson’s sense of tradition and attention to detail can be traced back to his grandparents, Ron and Georgiana, who have owned this place since 1966.  No matter how much the place changes, they have made sure two important details are never on the back burner: food and family. 

“I can look around here, you know, we’ve been here so long.  A lot of our customers, sadly, are no longer with us. I can look out there and picture different people who used to be sitting at the bar. That was their table,” Georgiana Olson  said in December. 

“I know a lot of old-timers in the restaurant business who have come and gone and we’re still here.  It’s been a family affair,” Ron Olson said in December. 

That is still true. 

“We just love our community and our customers and you know, we have a great time working with our team, but it’s great to be able to come back to my grandparents and say, look what we’re doing with the old place,” Johnson said. 

A mention in a magazine is great.  No offense to Oprah, but it’s no match for the feedback the Pheasant Restaurant truly values. 

“It’s a really nice place to come and we all feel very much at home here,” Karen Rentsch, customer, said. 

No need to be hungry for national attention, when the folks closest to you are the people who really feed your soul. 

“Even though many of us are not biologically related anymore, we’re still a family business and that extend beyond biology and it’s not just the people who work here, but the people who come every day,” Johnson said.

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