Upgrades planned at Oacoma's iconic Al's Oasis, just purchased by Buche
Though upgrades to the complex may change a lot, Buche said the traditional focus on customer service will remain
OACOMA, S.D. — A legendary South Dakota traveler’s stop has a new owner.
RF Buche, CEO and president of G.F. Buche Co., announced Tuesday the purchase of Al’s Oasis in Oacoma, a historic stop introducing travelers of Interstate 90 to the state’s West River region for over a century.
G.F. Buche Co. operates a Buche Foods grocery store on one end of the Oacoma complex, but will now operate the entire building — including a clothing store, gift shop and casino.
“Al’s Oasis is one the most iconic destinations in the state, so it was an easy decision,” Buche said. “The fact that we have family in Chamberlain and owned a store there from the mid-1980s to the early-1990s factored in, too.”
The original Al’s Oasis was founded by Albert Mueller, an officer in the German army who chose to immigrate to the then-bustling cattle town of Oacoma. In 1919, more than a decade after Mueller had moved to South Dakota, his family opened a grocery store.
The business prospered and eventually grew, adding clothing and other items in demand by travelers on their way to the Black Hills. The lunch counter grew from 10 stools into a full-scale restaurant where customers enjoyed not only sandwiches and pie but also steaks, prime rib and more.
Over the years, the business has grown and expanded several times as travelers continue to stop at Al’s Oasis — where the coffee is still 5 cents.
Moving forward, Buche and his team plan to continue the Al’s Oasis tradition of customer service excellence.
“I want people to know our passion is supporting local communities by winning at retail,” said Buche. “When I look back on the history of Al and the Mueller family, strong values and a passion for service come to mind.”
While Buche has already completed a major update to the grocery store side of Al’s Oasis, he looks forward to other improvements as well.
Buche’s plans for improvements include new bathrooms and a remodel of the restaurant and gift store to include South Dakota made products, an old-fashioned candy and fudge shop and hunting and fishing merchandise. A second casino will also be added to the complex.
“Customers can expect an incredible experience,” said Buche. “Customer experiences will include great food, an old west shooting range for the kids, one of the state’s best taxidermy scenes, and a chance to interact with some of the best people in South Dakota.”
Though Buche will bring in Sky Dine Inc. to operate the complex’s restaurant, he said the menu will remain the mostly the same, with some likely additions to the menu, though some of those changes are not set in stone, Buche said.
Dustin Sejnoha, co-owner and managing partner of Sky Dine, said the employees of the restaurant will be kept on staff, furthering their reputation for service.
“It’s all about good service and quality products at reasonable prices,” said Dustin Sejnoha, co-owner and managing partner of Sky Dine. “Today there are many employees with over 40 years of history and employment at Al’s. We look forward to continuing the fantastic service and products that loyal customers have come to expect.”
Sejnoha says they plan on restoring the restaurant hours to include breakfast again in the near future and will prominently feature the Al’s Oasis legendary pie lineup.
“It’s a tradition with more than a century of history and such an incredible family story,” said Sejnoha. “We are excited and humbled to be part of it.”
Buche said the purchase of the complex was finalized on Monday, and his company’s ownership is effective as of Feb. 1.