Months of speculation ended this week when Mike Siegel, manager of the Brookings Country Kitchen, announced to his staff that owner Lance Park had pulled the plug on the restaurant. On Feb. 28, 2005, the restaurant will close its doors.
The closing came as no real shock to staff members. The business began struggling late in 2004 after the city closed its only direct entrance. By the beginning of January, the restaurant had already experienced a 20 percent decline in traffic.
Still, no one expected the close to happen this soon.
“I’m disappointed,” said Siegel, adding that he felt they would have enough time for one more run before closing.
“I don’t know what everybody here is going to do for work,” said Theresa Kaiser, a full-time waitress at the Country Kitchen. “Lance (Park) didn’t give the employees a lot of time to find new jobs.”
The employees of Country Kitchen will have little more than a week to find work in the Brookings area.
At one time, the Country Kitchen was a popular weekend hang-out for college students and the community. It was the only restaurant in Brookings that stayed open 24 hours on the weekends. On occasion, the restaurant would be completely full at three o’clock in the morning.
“That was the only place to go eat in the middle of the night,” said Steph Akers, 22, a senior biology major at SDSU. “The other places close at 1:00am. When you’re out having a good time with friends you don’t want to stop the party early, just to go eat.”
Even though the closing comes as no surprise to the staff, the thought of closing is not pleasant.
“I’m going to miss working here with everyone,” said Sam Holter, a part-time waitress and student at Brookings High School.
“The people here are like a family to me,” said Tami Kearns, 25, a sociology major at SDSU. “We’ve hung out and had a good time while we were here and away from work. Some have played a big part in helping me get through school and work while raising two children.”
No one at the Country Kitchen is sure what will happen to the building or the land after the closing. Rumors have circulated for months about possible businesses at the restaurant’s location, each as unlikely as the next according to employees.
Owner Lance Park was unavailable for comment at press time.
#1.885321:2116390553.jpg:countryitchenbuilding.jpg:Brookings´ Country Kitchen will close for the last time Feb. 28. The restaurant´s closing leaves few options for late-night dining that many SDSU students enjoy. “That was the only place to go eat in the middle of the night,” one student commented.: