Nick’s Hamburger Shop has once again been voted the best burger in Brookings by students at SDSU.
Nick’s rich history began on Nov. 2, 1929 when Harold and Gladys Nikalson began cooking up hamburgers on Hobo Day. Originally from Spencer, Iowa, the Nikalsons decided to come to South Dakota to open a hamburger shop.
Customers could get a Nick’s burger for only five cents from 1929 up until the United State’s involvement in World War II began in 1941.
In 1947, Harold Nikalson Jr. took over management of the popular burger joint. Harold Jr. later sold Nick’s to Duane Larson, an employee of Nick’s Hamburger Shop since 1968.
On Aug. 1, 2004 Dick Fergen bought Nick’s and managed it until he passed away in the spring of 2014.
Current owners, Todd and Tony Fergen, took over their father’s business in March of 2014. Although the business has changed hands, the burgers are the same as they were in 1929.
“We had the same recipe on the buns, the burgers, the relish since 1929,” said Todd Fergen, co-owner of Nick’s Hamburgers. “We’re not allowed to change them and people like that, they know what they’re going to get.”
Along with the homemade relish, Nick’s Hamburger Shop also offers homemade pie. According to Fergen, the pie is especially popular on the weekends and in the summer but is enjoyed any time of the day year-round. Nick’s Hamburger Shop has made all kinds of fruit and cream pies including Banana Cream, Rhubarb Custard and Reese’s Chocolate.
While becoming a staple in downtown Brookings, Nick’s Hamburger Shop has been involved in countless events in the community throughout the years.
“We do all sorts of support and backing for, of course, the clubs up at SDSU,” Fergen said. “Anywhere from cancer to kids being in the hospital to prom nights and organizations putting out anything.”
Along with donating to various organizations, Nick’s Hamburger Shop has a presence on the SDSU campus. During football games, fans can get a Nick’s burger at their own concessions trailer.
In the years that Nick’s Hamburger Shop has been in business, they have won several awards and honors, including being named MSN’s Best Burger in the state. Fergen said that one award stands out more than others.
“Dad [Dick Fergen] got retailer of the year in 2011,” Fergen said. “He also received the Larson Family Tourism Award given out by the Chamber of Commerce. They gave that to Dad after he passed here last spring.”
Although Nick’s received several awards in the past, Fergen said they’re always happy to receive new awards.
Fergen said that the atmosphere, the customers and the burgers bring people back. The atmosphere is “old fashioned and homey,” giving customers the same feeling and experience time and time again.
Isaac Wilde, a senior aviation education major, said that he likes Nick’s Hamburger Shop because it is a small business.
“(I like) the small ma and pa shop environment,” Wilde said. “In a town like Brookings with mostly franchise businesses, it’s nice to still see a small business in town.”
Brookings resident, Sherry Snow, said that it is impressive how clean Nick’s Hamburger Shop is for being such a small business.
“Every time I have been in there [Nick’s] it has been spotless,” Snow said. “Along with that, the hospitality is fantastic.”
With being in business for many years, many customers have become attached to Nick’s and enjoy going in for a hamburger.
“There’s nothing better than a Nick’s hamburger,” Snow said. “If they ever closed I would be so upset.”
If you haven’t tried a Nick’s Hamburger Shop burger, Fergen said to stop in.
“You know, it’s alright down here. Just come down and try it in person,” Fergen said.
Nick’s Hamburger Shop is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. More information and apparel can be found at nickshamburgers.com.