On a chilly, Friday afternoon, I hopped onto the interstate into Moody County to Flandreau. Known for Royal River Casino, which is currently undergoing a giant renovation, the town of around 2,300 is full of “how are you doing” and everyone catching up at local eateries and businesses.
FLANDREAU EST. 1879
JOHN’S PLACE: A FAMILY RESTAURANT
I started my journey at John’s Place: A Family Restaurant. It’s very much a small-town diner, where everyone took turns glancing over wondering who I was. Several helpful ladies approached me, and I asked for the owner.
Audrey Gaspar, who was in the back hard at work, came up to greet me.
“The daily special today is the Tater Tot Hotdish,” she said. “Take a seat and I’ll bring some items over.”
The multi-cuisine eatery all started when Gaspar was looking for a centralized location for clientele to grab a bite. She met John Toates, who bought the building and planned to build apartments up-top and let Gaspar open the restaurant below.
“He finalized the deal with the guy he bought the building from in December of ’08. We planned on being here in November of ’09,” she continued, “and in January of ’09 he died of a heart attack scooping a lady’s car out of the snow.”
The project moved forward and she named the business after him in remembrance.
“all of our pies are homemade, even the crust.”
Patrons can enjoy everything from breakfast dishes like 2 Eggs & Hashbrowns, French Toast, and Biscuits and Gravy, or lunchtime offerings like the Cowboy Burger or an 11 oz. Chopped Steak.
“We have a full menu that has a lot of variety, like the Hot beef Sandwich, the Swedish Meatballs, Seafood Alfredo… There are a lot of options,” she said.
HERE ARE JUST SOME OF JOHN’S DAILY SPECIALS:
»TURKEY AND GRAVY OVER MASHED POTATOES
»CHICKEN SALAD CROISSANT
»SEAFOOD ALFREDO AND VEGETABLES
»CHICKEN STUFFING HOTDISH, VEGETABLES, AND DINNER ROLL
MOODY COUNTY ENTERPRISE WAS THE FIRST NEWSPAPER IN TOWN.
THE FLANDREAU BAKERY & COFFEE BAR
Just across the street is a company that has gotten national recognition, including kudos from The Food Network.
The Flandreau Bakery & Coffee Bar has been in the family since 1929, and is still under operation under the Duncan brothers, Don and Ed.
Known best for the Mocha cake, the bakery also has 31 different variations of special breads and has items like Cream Horns, Angel Food Cake, Sour Cream Raisin Pie, Chocolate Hermits, and Crispies.
“People love the fresh-baked products,” said Don, who arrives to start baking around 1 a.m. “They’re very fond of the Long Johns, Mocha Cakes, and Chocolate Donuts.”
Don has been involved in the business for 50 years, and it seems a strong work ethic has been passed down generations.
“My dad worked here until he was 90 years old,” he said.
THIS YEAR IS FLANDREAU’S SESQUICENTENNIAL.
FAJITA’S BAR & GRILL
Just over on North Wind Street is a newer dining option called Fajita’s Bar & Grill.
The “home away from home” opened in April and is so much more than just a restaurant. But before we get ahead of ourselves, they are known for fresh Mexican food made Monday through Saturday for lunch or dinner.
Enjoy items like Street Tacos, Jalapeño Poppers, Shrimp Fajitas, Taco Salad, and King Nachos.
One item they are best known for are the Carne Asada Fries, which are french fries smothered in melted nacho cheese, carne asada, beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream.
Fajita’s teamed up with the Flandreau Bakery and also sells a few baked items as well.
“we’re going to start doing tacos until 1 in the morning in the drive-thru.”
Along with food, they also have painting classes. There is one for children, where they can enjoy quesadillas or nachos as they paint, and as adult version with margaritas.
“We have [the children’s paintings] on the wall. They love it! They come in and get really excited to see it,” said manager Jessica Rubenstein.
A bar is connected to the restaurant, as well as a drive-thru, and on Saturday nights around 9 p.m. dancing begins.
“It gets crowded, it’s so fun,” said Rubenstein. “There’s a DJ and everyone comes together and dances. No one judges anyone, and we all cheer each other on. There’s salsa, reggaeton, and we play other music, too.”
More casual days in the bar include watching sports games or simply enjoying a beverage after work. People can also purchase liquor on that side and/or via the drive-thru (food is also available at the window).