Local resturant succeeds in historical setting

Jill Fier

Jill Fier

For the last 26 years, Tom and Gwen Yseth have owned and operated one of Brookings’ oldest and most successful businesses.

The Yseth’s said that before they bought the Ram they had no idea this was where they would be over a quarter century later, but they have not regretted the decision.

“I never regret anything,” Tom Yseth said. “I don’t dwell on stuff like that because it’s mostly negative thinking.”

Yseth said before moving to Brookings, he worked on Tom Daschle’s first political campaign. He knew he didn’t want to go into a full-time career of politics and was looking for a business oportunity in the area.

The Ram, which was previously owned by the Ram Corporation, was for sale and losing business, so Yseth took the opportunity to buy it at a price he could afford.

Before the building was a restuarant, it was a bank. Built in 1920, it first housed the First National Bank of Brookings. Under new ownership, the bank became the Northwestern National Bank.

In 1938, the bank was the victim of one of Brookings’ most notorious events to date. That year the bank was robbed in broad daylight on Halloween. Ben Dickinson and his wife Stella Mae held up the bank just as it opened for business on that Monday. The couple escaped with more than $17,000 and were not caught until nearly six months later.

The robbery has been re-enacted on several different occasions using a script that was written by Joe Edeburn.

The bank moved to the corner of 6th Street and Main Ave. and is now Wells Fargo. The building became a restuarant in 1972 and the Yseth’s bought it six years later.

The Ram’s Stroganoff burger was honored by the National Livestock and Meat Board in 1996 as being one of the best burgers in the country. Yseth said he makes every attempt to serve locally-produced food.

Yseth also said he is grateful he owns a business is a college town and has employed many SDSU students over the years.

“Most college students are motivated people, and while this isn’t thier profession of choice, that motivation shows in the work they do,” he said.

He said he also gets business ideas from his employees and consults many people when he is thinking of changing the resturant’s menu. Ideas also come from friends that go to other restuarants and request items to go on the menu.

“I don’t steal ideas from any place within 100 miles of here,” he joked, saying he doesn’t want people to come to the Ram tasting someting they had at a business down the street.

Yseth said his main goal at the Ram is to provide good food and good service, which is a simple idea but not always simple to produce. “It’s all about motivating employees and meeting the demands of the ever-changing marketplace.”