Skogen Kitchen is Restaurant of the Year

Nathan Steele

Skogen Kitchen was named the South Dakota Retailers Association’s Restaurant of the Year earlier this month. The award recognizes a restaurant with “a reputation of excellence in food, service and atmosphere.” Skogen Kitchen is a chef-driven fine dining restaurant concept that offers a unique dining experience with each visit.
Each year the association also recognizes businesses with a Retailer of the Year and a Community Service Award.
“All three are proud South Dakotans, and their passion extends far beyond their local communities,” said the South Dakota Retailers Association.
“Being voted Restaurant of the Year from the Retailers Association was really exciting for us, and also just sets us up for such a positive start to the new year. It’s always nice when anyone in the public recognizes our team’s efforts and sees how much we care. To have that recognition come from the Retailers Association is extra special,” said chef and owner Joseph Raney.
Joseph and his wife, Eliza, opened the restaurant in May 2017, just a year after moving to Custer from California in 2016. This isn’t the first major honor the restuarant has recieved, however. Just last year, Joseph was nominated for a James Beard Award.
The name Skogen is a nod to Joseph’s Norwegian heritage. In Norwegian, the word Skogen means “forest” – a fitting name given the location.
Its ever-changing menu incorporates a variety of American cultural cuisines featuring fresh foods from across the country, including many locally-sourced foods.
“He takes a lot of fun ingredients and puts it together to make this masterpiece,” Eliza says of her husband. “He is so good about his flavors and layers of flavors. It’s really a party in your mouth!”
Nathan Sanderson, executive director of the South Dakota Retailers Association, said the Raneys have more than met their goal of being unique but not pretentious.
“Skogen Kitchen’s menu and the excellent service combine to deliver a dining experience that draws rave reviews,” Sanderson said. “Local customers, visitors from across the country and restaurant review publications sing their praises.”
Joseph noted the restaurant and the menu are small by design, to allow them to take really good care of each person and serve the customer best.
“If you have an idea and you have an ability, you can try that anywhere,” Joseph said. “But we want to make sure that we’re advocating to our employees that you can follow your dreams whatever they are, just appreciate where you are. You’re in South Dakota.”
“We have a lot of fun at work, but we all take our jobs very seriously. None of us wants to let each other or the customer down. So receiving this award means we’ve done a great job at accomplishing both. We’re really really proud of the team and this award,” said Joseph.
To learn more about the Raneys and the Retailers Association’s additional award recipients visit

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