Dari King has been an establishment in Redwood Falls for generations.
Previous to the Dari King name it was the Dairy Freeze until being purchased and rebranded by the Brakken family.
After nearly 55 years, Marge and Dan Brakken were ready to sell.
New owners Chris and Melissa Hoppke opened the Dari King as official owners May 1, 2018.
Melissa speculated that the Brakkens, who approached them about purchasing it, wanted to find someone that they knew would keep it much the same as it had been.
Dan and Chris had been friends for many years, and so the Brakkens knew the Hoppkes had always wanted to run a business very similar to this.
“It’s a pretty laid back place,” Chris explained, adding that the transition went very smoothly with very few surprises. He noted how both he and Melissa grew up in the community and how it had been such an icon for so many years. “Old farmers sometimes stop and mention how they’d been coming here for ice cream since they were little.”
While there are a few changes, most things will remain the same, Melissa reassured everyone. They intend to keep all the local favorites and don’t intend to change any existing recipes.
Dari King previously remained open only during the summer months. It is now open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m., and the Hoppkes hope to keep it open until Dec. 15 and reopen in mid-February, weather permitting.
Some of the specials will change with the seasons, but that had always been the case with flavors such as rhubarb.
“That was the biggest controversy,” Melissa said, “whether or not we were keeping the rhubarb shake… people were in requesting it and there was still snow on the ground.”
She promised a few seasonal changes, although rhubarb isn’t going away.
One such addition will be soup and similar comfort foods in the colder months.
Another addition is the ice cream sandwiches.
The Hoppkes make a variety of ice cream treats stuffed between two cookies and usually have several options available.
“They go fast,” she says, “people by two, four, six at a time…they fly out the door and we can barely keep up.”
The Dari King’s Facebook page gets regular updates, including their daily specials.
Chris worked for 18 years at the Valley Supper Club and has a long history with food service and this business, which employs 20 people, was right up his alley.
“Lots of prep work,” he said, noting how the hand-made patties take a lot of time to craft. “In the first three weeks, we spent like 17 hours here each day.”
Yet this is exactly what they want to do with their time.
“It’s impressive to see how much food a little building such as this pumps out,” Chris added.
A grand opening took place in June, and since then business has been steady, although they noted a slight dip in traffic on the weekend since the road construction began.
Weekends are when out-of-towners typically passed through and would stop.
“Folks on vacation, guys on fishing trips, lots of visitors stop and tell us that this place is their local tradition when they drive through Redwood,” Chris said, proud of the location’s history and tenacity. “Places like this are a dying breed with franchises popping up everywhere… local customers are incredibly loyal.”
The Hoppkes say, “We enjoy coming to work every day and working for ourselves.”
Chris said with a smile. “I love it.”