Nick's Burger Shop Says Goodbye To Owner
by Jeff Rusack, Reporter
October 21, 2013 5:36 PM
If you want a burger in Brookings, your usual array of fast food chains could satisfy your hunger. But, if you want a burger with a side of atmosphere, "Nick's Hamburger Shop" is the place to be.
The restaurant has expanded since it opened more than 80 years ago, but now the Brookings staple is dealing with a loss.
It could be the buns. It could be the toppings. It could be the same cooking oil they've used since the 20's. But, nothing makes a burger better than enjoying one with good company. And at Nick's there's no shortage of good people to share some beef patties.
“It's that kind of place everybody comes. If they've been gone a long time, they still come back,” said Jerry Deblonk who visits Nick’s at least twice a week.
The Brookings burger joint has seen four owners since opening its doors in 1929. The most recent is Dick Fergen who made some changes to the Main Avenue restaurant by expanding the famously small eatery into the barber shop next door. A move questioned by some, but Brookings natives kept coming back for more bags of burgers.
“He improved what I thought couldn't be improved on, which is Nick's Hamburger Shop,” said Deblonk.
Earlier this month, Dick Fergen lost his battle with cancer. And now, regulars and the staff of Nick's, remember their boss and friend.
“He was way more than a boss to any of us,” said Christina Wiemer, the manager at Nick’s.
“An old friend that I'm going to miss quite often,” said Deblonk, who has known Fergen for 60 years.
“He was always there to help. I went in the ditch one winter on my drive in from Elkton and he came a couple miles and pulled me out,” recalled Wiemer.
The menu remains the same but a familiar face will no longer sit on a classic red stool at the other end of the bar.
“That was what people came here for besides the burgers. They wanted a good conversation. They knew Dick was here to give them a story,” said Wiemer. “He was just a staple of Nick’s he really brought it back to life and he built up to what it is now.”
Dick Fergen brought change to a Brookings classic and now Brookings must deal with change once more, as they mourn a friend who made smiles and cooked hamburgers on the side.
Dick Fergen's son will take over as the owner of Nick's Hamburger Shop.