Friends partner to open Turtle Creek Steakhouse and Saloon

By Vicki Prentice, The Miller Press; Originally published in The Miller Press on October 23, 2019

Turtle Creek Steakhouse and Saloon is back in business, thanks to the effort of five local couples who saw a need in the community and decided they could fill it. The business officially opened to the public on October 11.

“The reason we bought this place is because Miller needs it,” Joe Beranek said of the steakhouse, previously owned by Curt Telkamp for 24 years. “I think it was November of last year when Turtle Creek, Sommers and The Hi-Lite all closed their doors.”

Losing three eating establishments all at once hit the community pretty hard, which made the partners–Beranek and his wife Kecia, Sandy and Neil Stevens, Travis and Angie Anderberg, Bob and Diane Steers, and Riley and Chelsea Pugh–all the more determined to get the doors of Turtle Creek opened before the 2019 pheasant hunting season began.

The Beraneks had talked to Telkamp last fall about buying Turtle Creek, but quickly realized it would be far too much for the two of them alone. That’s when they decided to turn to their friends.

“We approached the other couples to see if they’d be interested and that turned into weekly meetings for the last six months or more to fine tune details,” Beranek said.

The partners have all been actively involved every step of the way, and have done whatever needs doing from washing dishes to waiting tables, in addition to hiring and training staff, and working long hard hours to get ready for reopening.

“We all want to learn the ropes because we are all very new to this,” said partner Chelsea Pugh.

“Our role as owners is to assist our staff and assure that customers enjoy great food and great service every time they visit,” Beranek said. “We feel it is vital to have so many people involved, so no one gets burned out.”

According to Beranek, 25-30 employees have been hired, including Rickkie Martinmaas, as manager, and Hayden Peterman as head chef.

“We feel very fortunate to have the staff we have. All of them have had the opportunity to work over the past couple of weeks and they have far exceeded our expectations,” Beranek stated. “We can’t do this without the employees and we can’t do it without the support of the community.”

Currently, Turtle Creek is open at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday evenings and at 4:00 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The kitchen and grill opens at 6:00 p.m. on the weeknights and at 5:00 p.m. on the weekends.

The Turtle Creek menu features steaks, burgers and grilled walleye, as well as a prime rib special every Friday and Saturday evening. A salad bar is available, along with lighter menu options, and they will continue to serve the beer battered fries for which Turtle Creek is famous.

A number of changes have been made by the new owners since taking over, such as adding a new refrigerated salad bar and a surveillance system, and replacing the pool table and the video lottery with more seating.

“That’s a big thing for people. They really enjoy not having that in here,” Pugh said.

They also have added a new point-of-sale system and a 10-tap tower, which the owners are particularly proud of. In fact, Pugh said she recently learned that between Pierre and Huron Turtle Creek is only one of two places where one can get a beer on tap.

As one of the only dining establishments in the region to serve beer on tap, Turtle Creek Saloon features a 10-tap tower.

Beranek was quick to acknowledge the former owner for his role in helping the new owners get the business off and running again.

“Curt Telkamp has been outstanding and very supportive in pointing us in the right direction and helping us to make the transition,” Beranek said. “He’s the one responsible for making this place what it is, and we’re just taking over the reins.”

“If it wasn’t for Curt, the atmosphere of this building wouldn’t be here,” added Pugh.

Turtle Creek Steakhouse and Saloon has plenty of new faces, but they are providing the same great food and service hunters have come to know over the years, assured Beranek.

“We’re looking forward to meeting and building relationships with the people that come during hunting season,” Pugh said.

It’s definitely taken hundreds of hours and tons of effort to get the place up and running, and now that the doors are open for business, it is evident that people are happy to have Turtle Creek back.

“We wanted to do something good for the community and I feel that we have done that based on the feedback we have gotten in the short time we’ve been open,” Beranek said. “Before people walk out the door they thank us for opening the place again. To me that lets me know that we made the right decision.”

Beranek is confident he can speak for all of the partners when he says, “We’re all very excited to be here, and hope you will come soon to experience the great food, great service and great fun at Turtle.”