Fire damages iconic Spink Cafe

Posted November 14, 2019 at 9:54 pm

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The Spink Cafe, a long-time iconic and historical building in Union County, S.D., where people gather for a favorite meal and conversation, was heavily damaged by fire Sunday, Nov. 10.

Many people were saddened to hear the news of the fire, closing a favorite spot on the landscape along S.D. Highway 48.

Sunday, at about 3:50 p.m., Elk Point firefighters were dispatched to the Spink Cafe in rural Union County as the 94-year-old structure was on fire.

They called for assistance from the Akron and Vermillion, S.D., fire departments, said Elk Point Fire Chief Don Klunder.

They fought the blaze for about three hours, he said, declining to comment on a cause of the fire as it is still under investigation.

The state fire investigator was to be in the State Fire Marshal’s Office by the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 12, said Klunder, noting the age of the structure contributed to the fire’s damage.

The 94-year-old wood-frame building, owned by the Otten family since 1997, sustained major damage, especially on the first floor. The full extent of damage has not yet been determined. The Ottens opened Spink Cafe for business on Oct. 3, 1997.

A former residence on the second floor was unoccupied at the time of the fire. Thankfully, no one was injured in the fire.

Besides a cafe, the building has been used as a general store, a post office, a theater, and a locker plant. Gateway Computers owner, Ted Waitt, even filmed a Gateway commercial at the building, and a photo of the building has appeared in Time Magazine.

The Friday and Saturday night crowds will be especially disappointed as that was Prime Rib night with cars lined up everywhere. Another favorite, Thursday night, was the all-you-can-eat famous ribs, known all over the country, and on Sundays brunch was served 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Several years back, the cafe’s roof was leaking and in 2006 the surrounding community rallied and helped raise the $12,000 needed to replace the roof and repair the water damage. This demonstrates the extent of how well loved this family owned cafe is.

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