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Letcher's Jake’s Lounge offers taste of small town, lamb chislic and 'friendliest, laid-back atmosphere'

“We keep it simple but make sure we are cooking food that’s done right and people like,” said owner Deb Jacobsen.

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Deb Jacobsen, owner of Jake's Lounge, bartending.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second article in the Battle of the Eats 2022 series, which features stories on favorite small-town restaurants as voted upon by Mitchell Republic readers. The series will appear Saturdays through Aug. 27 this summer.

LETCHER, S.D. — For more than four decades, Jake’s Lounge has been a fixture on Letcher’s Main Street.

The tin building that’s housed Jake’s Lounge since 1977 isn’t the flashiest building, but it’s among the most bustling business in the Sanborn County community.

As owner Deb Jacobsen says, “It’s what inside that matters.”

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Jake's Lounge in Letcher.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Jake’s Lounge has a laid-back, friendly atmosphere with a menu full of South Dakota staples like lamb chislic, gizzards and, of course, cold beer.

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“We keep it simple but make sure we are cooking food that’s done right and people like,” said Jacobsen, who runs the kitchen and bar primarily by herself with the help of a couple employees.

The atmosphere Jake’s Lounge offers has made it a popular local hangout and eatery in the small town that boasts a population of about 200.

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A patron enjoys a beer at Jake's Lounge in Letcher.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Locals aren’t the only regulars who frequent Jake’s Lounge. Jacobsen said she sees many Mitchell residents over the weekend who trek 15 miles north to escape crowds and get a taste of small town South Dakota living.

“People like the small-town bar vibe. It’s friendly here,” she said.

Some Mitchell cyclists, like Shane Taylor, trek to Jake’s by way of bike and cap off their 15-mile rides with a thick burger and cold beer.

“Jake’s is an experience. The food is amazing, and I always love how laid back it is,” he said. “It’s always a nice change of scenery.”

More Battle of the Eats stories found here ...
Here's a look at all of our features on small-town restaurants in our region.

The bar and restaurant offers much more than a friendly atmosphere. Jacobsen’s signature burgers, the chislic and the gizzards are well-known throughout the area. Broasted chicken is Jacobsen’s newest item on the menu, and her cooking skills have already made it a popular go to dish that’s paired with thick cut fried potato wedges.

"I've been cooking most of my life, and I just enjoy it," she said.

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While the menu is fairly simple, there are few items for exotic food lovers. The Rocky Mountain oysters Jacobsen dishes up have become a staple, especially during hunting season.

“You just can’t overcook them,” Jacobsen said of her Rocky Mountain oysters, which are fried cow testicles.

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A sign inside of Jake's Lounge honors the late Denny Jacobsen.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Surrounded by prime pheasant hunting land, Jake’s sees its fair share of rooster hunters in the fall. Jacobsen said hunting season is the busiest time of year.

“Hunting season is always fun. We get a lot of hunters coming through who will make it a tradition to stop here during hunting season,” she said. “A lot of out-of-state hunters like to try the gizzards and mountain oysters.”

Community bar

The late Denny “Jake” Jacobsen, the Letcher native who opened Jake’s Lounge in 1977, was known for supporting the community through hosting a wide array of benefits and events at the small town bar.

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The Mitchell Republic will be featuring readers' favorite small-town diners and restaurants in the ongoing feature Battle of the Eats.

From cancer benefits, school reunions to milestone birthday celebrations, Jake’s has provided Letcher with a place for all to come together as a community.

Although Denny died in 2015, his memory lives on inside the bar where he shared laughs and beers with friends who Deb sees regularly. Letcher has taken notice of the community-minded spirit.

Atop the scoreboard at the baseball field where Letcher’s new baseball team plays is a sign recognizing Denny.

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“Giving back is what it’s all about. We have a great town who supports us, and we support them,” Deb said.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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