By Lauren Brant
A new restaurant will open soon just outside the city limits of Gordon. Benny’s is a family owned and operated restaurant that will offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week.
Co-owners Bryan Hugen and Donnell Houx purchased the building in March and have worked alongside family and employees to fully renovate the space. From gutting the kitchen to ripping down walls, the crew has rotated through 8-hour shifts to bring the building up to code. They are re-fabricating the booths and an artist from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is painting the dining tables for the restaurant. Once the restaurant is complete, the building will be able to seat over 100 people.
After the 135-year family ranch estate was dispersed to the children, Hugen had to decide how to use it. Initially, he did not know what to do with the money. He needed a place to park semis so he made an offer to the previous owners, who accepted it. “This is just a continuation of staying in the community,” said Hugen, a Gordon native.
The farm was southeast of town and his great-great-grandfather homesteaded in 1885. Since his father Benny’s passing, Hugen used the estate money to start Benny’s under the philosophy of good food, good dining, good service. As an expression of the family values present in the business, the restaurant’s menus will tell the story of Benny. “We want people to be happy,” he said. “If you’re happy and you eat good, it makes your life better.”
In the northwestern portion of the building, there will be a diner area where travelers and customers can grab a quick bite to eat. There will also be a fine dining side to the restaurant and a lounge. While the menu has not been set yet, it will include a variety of Mexican, Italian, and American dishes. “We really want to focus on good customer service and unique meals that aren’t offered around here,” said Tiffany Hoffman, the business’ acting office manager.
Behind the building, they have installed raised gardens to grow herbs. As a family, they focus on being eco-friendly and using disposables that deteriorate quickly to reduce the impact on the environment.
As the opening date approaches, Hugen shared how the people who are helping renovate the space have the opportunity to fulfill roles in the new business. While he is uncertain how many people the business will employ, he plans to start taking applications soon. The plan is to have the kitchen finished and the equipment installed before the interviews, so he and Houx can see the applicants’ skill sets.
While the restaurant is the top priority, they have a five-year plan for the business. They plan to open a 24-hour mini mart on the west side of the building. Within the mini-mart, there will be a bakery that offers fresh donuts, sandwiches, bread, and desserts. They also will put fuel back in at least one year down the road and the truck stop will be furnished with showers and a laundry mat. There will also be a dog park on the west edge of the property.
Hugen also purchased a new sign and said when they hang up Benny’s, they will be close to opening their doors. “We’re trying before the week of fair and rodeo to actually get it up and running,” he said.
With an investment in the community, Hugen and Houx hope to offer a unique atmosphere where every customer feels important and his family’s legacy can live on.