Nick’s Hamburgers still cookin’ at 75

Tara Halbritter

Tara Halbritter

Burgers, chips, beverages, and shakes made with hand-dipped ice cream; that’s the menu everyday at Nick’s Hamburger Shop in downtown Brookings. This menu has also been the driving force behind the shop’s 75 years of success, and counting.

In 1929, Harold and Gladys Niklason opened Nick’s Hamburger Shop, where they served five-cent hamburgers and good coffee. Seventy-five years later, the menu hasn’t changed much, and neither has the hometown congeniality behind the counter.

Since Niklason founded the eatery in 1929, other owners have included his son, Harold Niklason, Jr., Duane Larson, and the shop’s current owner, Dick Fergen.

Fergen took ownership of Nick’s on Aug. 1.

So, how has Nick’s managed to stay in business for all these years? The Dirty 30s couldn’t dust them out of business, and neither would anything else. When asked how Nick’s has been able to withstand the test of time, Fergen’s girlfriend, Jane Scribner, replied, “The hamburgers are really good!” She went on to explain how Nick’s chooses not to purchase frozen meat patties like many other restaurants do.

The small burgers have proven to be a huge hit over the years. On Hobo Day in 1947, the numbers spoke for themselves — Nick’s Hamburger Shop sold 4,450 hamburgers in one day. Today, that is still the record amount of burgers sold in a single day at the shop.

While the food is delicious, it’s not the only reason people are drawn to Nick’s. Not even the aroma of freshly baked buns can cover up the friendly, hometown atmosphere. Fergen explained that when Brookings natives and SDSU alums come home for reunions, vacations, or holidays, many will not leave town without “stopping in for a nickburger.”

As times change, so do prices. When Nick’s opened its doors, the cost of a hamburger was five cents. Today, the cost of a nickburger is $1.18.

“This is home to me,” said Fergen, when asked to discuss his motivation behind buying the business. He recalls countless memories of Nick’s, as do several people from Brookings and the surrounding area.

No matter which way you flip it, this local business has undoubtedly beaten the odds and withstood the test of time. So, as Scribner put it, “Come in and get your Nick’s fix!”

#1.885988:1180731348.jpg:nicks hamburger 2.jpg:Nick´s Hamburger Shop in downtown Brookings has been in business for over 75 years.: