Alpine Inn wins restaurant of the year

Gray Hughes

Anyone who has been to the Alpine Inn knows its excellence; however, the Hill City institution received perhaps one of its greatest honors to date recently.

The Alpine Inn, owned and operated by Moni Matush with the assistance of her mother, Wally Matush (who started the restaurant in 1984) has been named South Dakota Restaurant of the Year by the South Dakota Retailers Association (SDRA).

“The Alpine Inn had a modest start, but has gained an international fan base thanks to its old-world charm and unique menu,” said SDRA executive director Nathan Sanderson in a release. “We’re pleased to honor this landmark of Hill City.”

The SDRA, which represents nearly 4,000 South Dakota businesses, said this award recognizes the Alpine Inn for its earned reputation for excellence with food, service and atmosphere. The association pointed to its “elegant, historic building” on Main Street in Hill City and described it as a “must-visit” for travelers to the area.

The Alpine Inn stands alone as one of the few restaurants in the area specializing in German food. The SDRA said it serves as a gathering place for local residents, and the selective menu (their dinner choices consists of two items) has allowed the Alpine Inn to perfect its meals and desserts.

Moni Matush said the award hasn’t been awarded for several years, and this was the first time in several years the honor of best restaurant in South Dakota was being bestowed.

“I’m not even sure how we got nominated,” Matush said, “but they called me a couple of weeks before (the award was given) and told me we were receiving this award.”

Matush said she was surprised they received the award, but the biggest feelings she had were happiness and pride. She said it was exciting to be the first restaurant in years given this award — and one of three South Dakota businesses all evening to be recognized for excellence.

During the day the SDRA held classes and sessions during the day but, the representatives from Alpine Inn — which included Matush, Wally Matush, Matush’s husband, Bob Stanfiel and managers from both the Alpine Inn and Flyt in Deadwood (operated by the Alpine Inn) — were present just for the dinner and award ceremony.

“At the dinner they talked about the different businesses....then they announced the three awards,” Matush said. “They did a little video. I have to laugh at myself because it’s so funny. They did a little video and I told the story of the Alpine Inn, how long my mom had run it and then how long I’ve been running it.”

Having her family on hand while she accepted the award meant the world to her, Matush said.

The award itself shows people that the Alpine Inn has been a stable, consistently good restaurant for quite some time, Matush said, and people really do appreciate the Alpine Inn.

Visitors have been thankful of the award, she added, and thank her, her mom and congratulate them on the award.

The award really does mean a lot to not just her but her whole family, Matush said, because it shows how hard they have to work to get to where they are. 

Any family-owned business is hard, she added, because a family-owned business does not get the same benefits a large corporation gets.

“Hill City is the land of opportunity,” Matush said. “That’s what I think. In my video, too, I said ‘I love Hill City.’ And I really do love Hill City. There’s nowhere else to be except for here. This is my town. I love this town, and I grew up here my entire life, too. Went to high school here, kindergarten here, so it is cool.”

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