Black Hills Burger & Bun chosen as ‘Small Business of the Year’
Published: Thursday, May 9th, 2013
It was always a dream to open a restaurant, but Claude and Christie Smith never expected they would win an award for doing so. Come this Friday, the Smiths, owners of Black Hills Burger and Bun Co. in Custer, will accept the award for Small Business of the Year after being secretly nominated by the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce.
“We were in shock! We were so surprised,” Christie said. “We didn’t know much about this type of award and we didn’t even know the chamber nominated us. We were just thrilled.”
“They’re alway busy, they’re invested in the community, they did their homework and they know what they’re doing,” said Dave Ressler, director for the chamber. “They’re successful and that’s the mark of a good business. I’m very happy for them. They are very deserving.”
The Black Hills Community Economic Development (BHCED) selected the Smiths and their restaurant based on their impact on the community.
“We’ve been awarding this honor to one western South Dakota business for the past 10 years,” said Kelly Miller, BHCED board member. “Typically these are enterprises that have filled a local business void, created local jobs and have demonstrated innovation. Businesses honored have always been locally owned, meaning profits remain in the community.”
Miller said when the committee went to interview the Smiths as this year’s winners, they heard how impressed the community was by the restaurant and its steady customer flow, even in the months where there is minimal tourism.
“Claude and Christie told us how they love the Black Hills lifestyle and left Iowa to make a better life for themselves here,” he said.
The Smiths opened Black Hills Burger and Bun Co. in the summer of 2012. Their menu boasts fresh, homemade items, such as the buns and meat for their hamburgers, salsa and chips, salads, dressings and sauces.
“Quality and freshness is number one in our book,” Christie said.
“The Smiths have invented specialty burgers that are found nowhere else,” Miller said. “It’s significant to note that they’ve brought to life a building that hadn’t seen much success in many years and they’ve made that place something of a landmark with orignal exterior murals.”
Before opening the restaurant, Claude owned and operated Custer County Market before selling it and moving to Iowa in 2010. They moved back to Custer in 2012 and purchased the building, formerly known as Ruthie’s, shortly later. It was always Christie’s dream of owning a restaurant and serving fresh homemade meals.
Even though the restaurant is small in size, the staff keeps busy with orders.
“We’re so thankful for our customers, the community of Custer and the surrounding area,” Claude said. “They’ve been really great to us.”
“This is an excellent example of the type of small business BHCED hopes to find each year,” Miller said.
The Smiths will be awarded with the honor Friday at a banquet held at the Civic Center in Rapid City.
“Custer has been outstanding in supporting us; more than we ever expected,” Christie said. “The reason we’re successful and winning this award is because of the local people and their support.”
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