MITCHELL, S.D. – With the threat of jail time breathing down their necks, two Mitchell restaurateurs are hoping for a fresh start.
On Wednesday, Hungry Dog, located at 422 S. Sanborn Blvd. in Mitchell, opened its doors for the first time, providing the city with its only restaurant serving primarily hot dogs. Despite Kaitlin Minder and Jordan Muntefering attempting to kickstart their new business, the pair already has a lot on their plate.
The restaurant is owned and operated by Minder, 23, and Muntefering, 27, who are currently facing felony charges after law enforcement found cocaine and methamphetamine in their Elm Street home and seized more than $33,000 in cash. But Minder said they just want to move on.
"We're trying to not think about all the bad stuff, I guess, and move forward and move on, try to contribute to the community. I don't want to think about that stuff too much," Minder said Thursday, declining to discuss the charges further.
According to court documents, the discovery of drugs was made on Aug. 10, but Minder said the charges have caused no trouble for their new venture, and they hadn't received any negative feedback in their opening days.
Minder and Muntefering decided to open a restaurant in June or July, and initially considered a coffee shop, but the couple wasn't interested in competing with all the other coffee shops in town.
"There's so many in town, we didn't really want to compete and get into that stuff, so we decided hot dogs. There's nowhere here that does that, so we just jumped in," Minder said.
Muntefering came up with a name for their new business, and Hungry Dog was born.
In less than two months, however, Minder's fate could be determined in court.
Minder is set to face a jury trial in early December after pleading not guilty on Sept. 20 to six charges related to cocaine and methamphetamine, including intent to distribute, intent to distribute in a drug-free zone and possession, as well as three felony marijuana charges and possession of drug paraphernalia.
If convicted, the maximum penalty is 67 years in prison, 30 days in jail and a $132,500 fine. Muntefering faces the same 10 charges and will appear in court for an arraignment in November.
And if the pair find themselves in court simultaneously, it may not bode well for fans of Hungry Dog.
Minder said the restaurant may have to close when one or both of its owners are in court because the business has no other employees, which Minder called "frustrating." But the couple could look to hire another employee in the future.
Hungry Dog is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday to serve lunch and dinner.
The restaurant's menu features 13 varieties of hot dogs and sandwiches, including some oddities like the eatery's namesake, the Hungry Dog - a foot-long, bacon-wrapped, deep-fried hot dog with chili, shaved ribeye, fries and Dimock pepperoni cheese - and the Chicken 'n' Waffle Club - fried chicken with bacon, lettuce, tomato and maple gravy between two crunchy waffles. Minder said they also serve burgers, fries, onion rings and soup.
Minder also has plans to expand by building a large patio outside in the summer to provide more seating.
Hungry Dog will remain open year-round, and Minder said she expects the store to stay in its current location on Sanborn.