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Mitchell bids farewell to Chef Louie's as restaurant to close after 75 years

“It’s really sad to have to say goodbye to this restaurant that has been a literal institution in Mitchell,” said Jodie Cain-Lambert, a longtime loyal Chef Louie's customer.

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After 75 years of serving as a staple for the Mitchell community, Chef Louie's restaurant is closing its doors on Jan. 8, 2022. Sam Fosness / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL -- For nearly a century, Chef Louie’s Steak House and Lounge has been a staple that’s provided fine dining experiences for people throughout the Mitchell area.

But on Jan. 8, 2022, the restaurant that’s been a fixture on the corner of Havens Avenue and Burr Street since 1945 will be closing its doors and bringing an end to an era. After the owners recently announced the longtime steakhouse and lounge will be closing in early January 2022, it sparked plenty of emotions among the loyal customers who frequented Chef Louie’s.

As Jodie Cain-Lambert put it, Chef Louie’s “is where you went for all of your life special occasions” from Valentine’s Day dinners to anniversary celebrations.

“That’s where you went to celebrate your special occasions,” she said, “It was all about getting dressed up and going into this glamorous atmosphere.”

Davison County property records show the Fredericksen family – the owners of the restaurant – sold the Chef Louie’s building, located at 601 E. Havens Ave., and the adjacent property known as the Corn Palace Motel to Plains Commerce Bank. Crews recently demolished the motel.

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The Mitchell Republic requested an interview with the Fredericksen family to comment on the sale and longevity of the restaurant, but a call was not returned prior to the publishing of this story.

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Crews demolish the former Corn Palace Motel on December 10, 2021, that sat on the corner of Havens Avenue and Burr Street. The property was recently sold to Plains Commerce Bank. Sam Fosness / Mitchell Republic
Matt Gade

After learning the restaurant will be closing, customers flooded Chef Louie’s Facebook page. One woman wrote, “Our first date was there 34 years ago. Thanks for all the fabulous memories over the years.”

While growing up in Mitchell, Cain-Lambert said Chef Louie’s “top of the line” food – which included steaks, prime rib, seafood dishes and pasta cuisines – attracted customers living in communities over 60 miles away from Mitchell.

She can still recall the days of hearing about the legendary Chef Louie Russell, who was the man behind the creation of the restaurant in 1945.

“Hearing stories about the Chef Louie was incredible. My grandma knew him, and people drove for hours to eat his food,” she said of the late Chef Louie.

After Chef Louie died in 1965, the ownership would change hands over the years, eventually leading to the Fredericksen family purchasing the restaurant. During the Fredericksen ownership era, the family has maintained the fancy dimly lit ambience that helped Chef Louie’s become one of the most renowned steakhouses in the state.

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For Cain-Lambert, taking in dinner at Chef Louie’s was an “experience.” While the signature steaks and pasta dishes served up were local favorites that drew customers into the restaurant, she said the “fancy ambience” separated it from the rest. And the Fredericksens have maintained that atmosphere since taking over more than a decade ago.

The signature logo that stands in front of Chef Louie’s today depicts a cartoon-like replica of the late Chef Louie wearing a cooking hat. Since the restaurant first opened 75 years ago, the Chef Louie’s logo has stayed the same.

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After 75 years of serving as a staple for the Mitchell community, Chef Louie's restaurant is closing its doors on Jan. 8, 2022. Sam Fosness / Mitchell Republic

To celebrate the rich history of Chef Louie’s, Cain-Lambert and a group of friends are gathering Friday night at the restaurant to soak in the atmosphere and savor the high-quality cuisine one last time.

Although the building will soon be vacant, Cain-Lambert said the fond memories Chef Louie’s provided to so many people in the area will live on forever.

“It’s really sad to have to say goodbye to this restaurant that has been a literal institution in Mitchell,” she said. “It was an era I will never forget.”

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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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