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A Place to Gather: The Story of the Upper Deck

On January 1, 1997, a Sports Bar known as the Upper Deck was opened by Rolland, Mark and Kenneth Hausmann. Father and sons, a family business, with strong ties to sports and homemade dessert. With its dark brown wood interior and walls filled with sports memorabilia, it has a warm charm and the kind of place that feels comfortable to those who enter its doors. One of many doors, actually; two in the front, and one in the back with parking located behind the bar or along Broadway. It’s a downtown Yankton staple, and it’s our second Meridian District Food Feature.

I had my first date with my husband at the Deck. We sat belly up on the south side of the bar and ate Chislic, one of South Dakota’s most famous dishes. It was a recommended stop for those who attended our wedding, and still one of my favorite places to go and eat a meal on a date or with friends. It holds a special place in my heart, not only for that reason, but I’ve attended many surprise parties there, and even spent a few Christmas Eve afternoons there with good friends and family.

The downtown sports bar, open 6 days a week, hasn’t just felt like home to me, it is a gathering place for many. Coffee groups line Broadway in front of the neon Upper Deck sign in the morning, pool and dart leagues during the week, and the weekend crowd keep the Upper Deck decks doors buzzing. Every once in awhile during our visit, we heard the DoorDash ding, alerting of a new order for one of their famous burgers.

Signature Burgers and Homemade Dessert

During the week, Upper Deck posts a daily special to their Facebook page. Anything from their signature burger and fries to a homestyle Chicken Fried Steak, with mashed potatoes and gravy. But what makes the special, so special? Homemade dessert - made by Ken’s wife, Angie. Get there early for the special as they run out frequently due to their popularity among the Yankton work crowd.

A Love For Their Customers

You can tell how special the place is with their regulars, and in turn, their regulars have left an impression on the bar. One of their top selling beers is Coors Light, which massed a following after one of the regulars with close ties to the company got many to make the switch. The Brownie, a burger named after one of their long standing regulars, features all of “Brownie’s” favorite things.

Joining me in my visit were fellow Meridian District board members, Megan Halsey and Jenna Braunesreither. Jenna ordered The Brownie, famously named after her father, a 1/2 lb. Burger loaded with American and Swiss cheese, secret sauce, bacon, onions, peppers, sauerkraut, tomato and pickle. Jenna loves the Upper Deck for their great burgers and “plenty of space for parties!” I ordered The Babe Ruth - a 1/2lb. burger, loaded with American and Swiss cheese, secret sauce, bacon, topped off with tomato, pickle, and onion. It arrives and per usual, it's monster sized and apparently their #1 selling menu item. Megan went with the classic BLT. Sides include onion rings, fries, curly fries, cheese balls, and my personal favorite, potato wedges - don’t forget the sour cream!

A few other menu favorites: Chislic, Phillys, Hot Wings, and more specialty burgers to choose from. They carry liquor, non-alcoholic options, and with 9 beers on tap, all domestics and a few extras, you will be sure to quench your thirst with something during your visit.

A Classic Sports Bar

Tables line the roundabout of the bar, and off to the south of it is an event space, free to rent, and you can even bring in your own food. Kids are welcome during the day and the kitchen is open 11am - 10pm. During football season, they extend their hours to Sunday, and host a packed crowd pre-Super Bowl Party. I attended this year and have to say, if you have not, please put it in your Super Bowl Day to-do list. Over 30 square boards to place bets line the walls and hang above the bar and the place is full of energy.

Giving it a true sports bar feel, you’ll find a tv at every glance and walls full of sports memorabilia. A mural by the pool table, dart boards lining the event space, and a popular game with my friends, Golden Tee, sits along the wall.

A Commitment to Community

On July 15, Upper Deck Bar & Grill will host their 11th annual charity poker run, with the proceeds benefitting Yankton Food for Thought, formerly known as the Yankton Sack Pack Program. Years ago while out riding with friends, Ken came up with the idea to host a poker run at the bar and partner with a local program. He connected with Karen Abbott, who recommended the local organization. Food for Thought provides meals for over 430 students in the Yankton area. The need increases every year and as a Yankton native, surprises me greatly on the need in this community. It’s truly a wonderful organization that gives back and I admire them greatly for their commitment to their community.

It’s local businesses like Upper Deck Bar & Grill, that serve as the heartbeat of the downtown community: long-standing with a neon sign, an interior that has a story to tell, and a place for friends and family to gather.

Stop in, call them up for an order to go, find them on DoorDash, or connect with them on social media. For delicious bar food, a relaxed environment for friends, or a spot to play darts, visit Upper Deck Bar & Grill on Broadway, located in the Meridian District.

Until next time!

- Mandi

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