Heap Big Beef

2609 S. Minnesota
There are few things that inspire more passionate, dreamy-eyed nostalgia than favorite eateries. Some of them stick around for a decade or two then go the way of the dinosaur. Heap Big Beef is one such place.
In March of 1967, an ad ran in the Argus Leader announcing exciting franchise opportunities for a business called Heap Big Beef. Franchise Investments, Inc. placed the ad as well as many others in Life magazine, the Wall Street Journal and major newspapers across the country. Lawrence Tessman answered the call for the Sioux Falls location, and construction began November 21st of that year at 2609 S. Minnesota, just north of Lewis Southgate. Tessman was born near Roswell, SD and had farmed in Miner county before operating a restaurant in Mitchell and a Pizza Hut in Omaha. When this franchise became available, he moved to Sioux Falls to bring this exciting restaurant to its hungry citizens.
Heap Big Beef appealed to the wild west motif that, around the same time, made businesses like Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Family Restaurant possible. Beef’s motif was a Native American theme, but in a culturally insensitive way that thankfully has become gauche. Ad copy in the paper read: “Circle the wagons, the Indians are coming with America’s favorite! Tender, juicy roast beef piled high and hot on a crisp, buttered Rippowam roll. You’ll let out a war-whoop when you sink your teeth into this delicious treat.” The company tried to inject as many Native American clichés as possible into their ads as well as their product names.
The Grand Opening of Heap Big Beef was March 28-31,1968. Chief White Buffalo Man, grandson of Sitting Bull, was on hand all four days to provide authentic stories and ceremonials. Tessman also brought in Mrs. South Dakota – Ramona Zephier. Advertisements promised “Colorful Indian dances around the campfire each day” and “Free Indian Bonnets and pony rides for the kids”. Shirley Kuebler of Sioux Falls College was named Miss Heep Big Beef; a dubious title at best.
The menu included Heap Big Beef 69¢, Great Big Beef 99¢, Double-Rich Shawnee Shakes 29¢, Golden Idaho Fries 15¢, and Pawnee Pies 20¢. By July they added Heap Big Beef Junior 39¢, Heap Big Frank on a Stick 25¢, Ham Sandwich 59¢, Ham & Cheese 69¢, and Onion Rings 29¢.
After feeding the beef-hungry in the region for 14 years, Lawrence Tessman announced in February of 1982 that he wanted out of the food business and put the contents of the restaurant up for auction. For months, the Heap Big Beef sign was for sale in the Argus Leader Classifieds. As it was an odd sign to be sure, the price kept going down.

September 1982 brought the ribbon cutting for a new business in the same location. Kruse Jewelry was open for business. The unique building was sure to attract attention. Kruse Jewelry closed in 1991 and by late 1992, the Heap Big Beef building was moved to Lake Poinsett to be used as a lake cabin.