Since 1950, Cook’s Kitchen in downtown Brookings has been a breakfast and lunch staple. It’s a favorite for locals, students and alums, especially on SDSU game days when a home-cooked meal and large portion sizes are almost required to start your day.
Cook’s is a family-owned business, operated by Greg and Shari Thornes, along with their son Chris Anderegg, who is general manager. Together, they guarantee you won’t leave hungry.
The most popular breakfast items are hash browns, skillets and pancakes, which go by “Cook’s Cakes.” These are bigger than the plate, measuring 11 inches round, and available in traditional, blueberry and chocolate chip. The pancakes’ massive size is a tradition passed on from the original owners. If you’re visiting with kids, make sure to request Mickey Mouse pancakes.
For lunch, the go-to is Cook’s melt-in-your-mouth Roast Beef Dinner, which consists of slow-roasted beef served with mashed potatoes, gravy, a dinner roll, the vegetable of the day and pudding.
Customers look forward to the Cook’s specials, which are one-time entrees available only that day or weekend. Some of these include Lemon Pound Cake French Toast, Banana Bread French Toast, Crab Cake Benedict and Smothered Biscuits and Gravy.
The building’s aesthetic allows customers to feel at home. The décor complements the classic booths and tables, providing a small-town, country dinner feel.
“We are all about being casual and comfy. Students have been known to show up in pajamas and slippers,” Shari Thornes said.
The historic building offers a cozy feel with only 58 seats. Customers are encouraged to find a chair or make friends at the three center community tables. Seating is first-come, first-served, so grab a coffee and chat with your neighbors on the sidewalk while you wait.
Cook’s is always hopping, with the busiest times being Fridays and weekends. Game days, hunting openers, special events and parade days are also especially busy.
Cook’s is a destination for people of all ages. Early morning hours typically draw an older crowd to enjoy coffee and catch up with friends and the latest news. The college crowd likes to roll in during the mid-morning. Multi-generational families typically enjoy Cook’s on weekends.
Located in the Brookings Commercial Historic District, Cook’s has a long history with the community. Most are surprised to know the original location was 301 Main Ave., opened by Bruce Cook, founder of Cook’s Kitchen. In 1983, Cook’s moved to the current location at 304 Main Ave.
Cook’s received national attention when the CBS “Sunday Morning” program’s Lee Cowan interviewed Al Kurtenbach, co-founder of Daktronics (the global electronic scoreboard company based in Brookings), over coffee for a feature story in February 2015.
Cook’s Kitchen hours are 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday for both dine-in and carry-out.
Check out Cook’s on Facebook @cookskitchen.sd.
-By Ariana Schumacher, SDSU