New Applebee’s will open in November east of Interstate and feature a sports bar atmosphere

Jeremy Fugleberg

Jeremy Fugleberg

Brookings’ next franchise restaurant/bar is rising above the swamp to the east of Interstate 29, behind the Cenex station on US Highway 14.

Applebee’s, with locations in Sioux Falls and Watertown, is finally branching out into Brookings, after settling a fight with the Brookings City Council over a liquor license.

Todd Schriever is the director of operations for Porter Apple Company, the regional Applebee’s franchisee. He said the liquor license issue is settled and he is sure his company and the City of Brookings have a good relationship.

“I don’t think there are any hard feelings,” he said.

Construction of the new restaurant/bar started in late June but there was a complication: The water table was only three feet underground.

This meant that workers were pumping water away from the site, said Jim Blankartz, job superintendent for general contractor BHI of Harrisburg, SD.

“We had to build so low, then pack it back up so that it was all gravel,” he said, gesturing to the cattails behind the construction. “It’s all right where we’re at now.”

Construction continues steadily, but last week’s rains put yet another water-related kink into the work.

“We were shut down for two days,” Blankartz said. “The (concrete crew) couldn’t pour, and I almost got the loader stuck out there and just about buried it.”

He smiled ruefully and pointed to multiple ruts that cut more than a foot deep into the mud before sinking into a pool of muddy water.