Animal’s Bar and Grill in Canova Serves ‘The Works’ – Mitchell Republic
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the seventh article in the Battle of the Eats 2022 series, which features stories about favorite small-town restaurants as voted by Mitchell Republic readers. The series will appear from Saturday to August 27 this summer.
CANOVA, SD — As Brenda Glanzer, co-owner of Animal’s Bar and Grill in Canova, recites a list of the restaurant’s menu offerings, a pair of words springs up that aptly describes the variety available to customers who walk through the door.
Tucked away in a small building on Main Street in the village of 105, the restaurant has a menu that reads like a list from Grandma’s recipe box. Fried chicken steak. Rib of beef. Mashed potatoes. A salad bar. Lasagna. Tater tot hotdish. It’s a range that can easily satisfy the hungriest of the hungry.
Glanzer has owned and operated Animal’s since 2013, although she got her start at the establishment managing the operation for her brother-in-law Tim Glanzer, who owned the business for about a year and a half before deciding to step back after circumstances at his other business forced him to focus his efforts there.
The bar dates back to at least the 1970s, she said, and operated more like a traditional bar before her family took over.
“He just did it on a whim,” Glanzer told the Mitchell Republic of his brother-in-law’s leap into the restaurant business. “He owns Howard Cold Storage, and he said to diversify, get into the restaurant business and own a bar. And I said I’d join you right away.
So the group created Animal’s Bar and Grill, named after their brother-in-law’s high school nickname, and changed the format from an evening bar to a more family-friendly restaurant that included a bar. Glanzer worked as a manager, using some of the skills she cultivated working in a cafe in her youth.
When the opportunity arose for her to fully take over, it was a pretty easy decision.
“I managed it for him for a year and a half, then I bought it from him. We decided to keep it as is,” Glanzer said.
Glanzer, 46, had worked in the restaurant industry as a youngster and had a knack for waiting tables, engaging with customers and developing a menu, citing his mother as culinary inspiration. These aspects of being a conservator came naturally to her. What didn’t come so naturally was adjusting to life as an owner.
“Adjusting to being a bar owner was a bit more difficult. You get up, you go to work at 8 a.m. and you should be home by 5 p.m. But you might not be done until 2 a.m.,” Glanzer said.
But the choice was worth it, she says. Canova, a small town perhaps best known for its history with amateur baseball in South Dakota, is a small place that needed an outpost to eat well. It was something she could offer the farmers and residents of the area, who all came out to support her efforts.
“I love our small community, there are only 105 people here, but we have a baseball season. We have hunting season. And probably the greatest pride and greatest joy are my seniors. We do meals for seniors throughout the week (and I love) just listening to them tell their stories,” Glanzer said.
So do those who love food, and Glanzer strives to focus on home-style meals. A customer might have a cheeseburger or a chicken sandwich for lunch, but the menu offers so much more than that. This week’s menu featured a lunch special of fried chicken steak, mashed potatoes and green beans. Those who weren’t dining stopped at the counter for takeout.
Support for Animal’s has been there since the beginning, Glanzer said, with customers enjoying special offers to food services. Other members of the business community were early adopters.
“The bankers were calling and saying, I want to bring 10 harvest meals to the field, can you prepare them? A food vendor was calling to say hello, I want to bring a group of 20 people, can you accommodate us?” said Glanzer: “It was amazing.”
Of course, baseball plays a big role. The local field, home of the Canova Gang amateur team, is a legend in the area and hosts youth and men’s baseball games throughout the summer. These attendees invariably end up finding their way to Animal’s for a post-game bite or drink.
“During the summer we have ball games in town literally Monday through Saturday and tournaments on Sundays,” Glanzer said. “We have been fortunate for many years to host districts and regions for the youngest. And the teams come in and fuss with each other and give each other a little heartbreak about winning or losing. And that’s good, you don’t always see that in big cities.
Hunting is also important in Canova, and hunters who flock there in search of pheasants also discover Animal’s. Home states for visitors include New Mexico, California, Washington and Pennsylvania, Glanzer said. Local lodges direct their guests to the restaurant, she said.
The restaurant also attracts South Dakotans from across the region, just to enjoy the food and atmosphere. Glanzer said a couple from Mount Vernon go to Canova once a month for prime rib, salad bar and homemade deviled eggs. They have been coming regularly for four or four years.
“Every month like clockwork. It’s their date night,” Glanzer said.
It hasn’t always been easy. They had to adapt to the arrival of COVID-19, but they overcame these difficulties. They had to temporarily close when her husband and daughter were both diagnosed with cancer, but they both beat it and are doing well now. And keeping a full staff can be tough when young people graduate from high school and move on to college.
Glanzer said the community has been nothing but supportive of these challenges. When they had to close temporarily in December to tend to her family’s health, the community told her to do what she had to, they would still be there if and when she could return to the restaurant.
“They said ‘take your time, come back when it works’. And we were back open for short hours in January. Farmers in the community told us that as soon as we were ready, their bellies became thin,” Glanzer said.
Brenda’s husband, Todd, agreed that the community is very close-knit and caring for their own.
“The community is just awesome. It’s the only place to eat for 25 miles around and they treat us well,” he said.
Nikki Muck has worked for Glanzer at Animal’s for about eight years. She said people are drawn to Animal’s because of its small-town environment, friendly people and good service. She loves prime ribs and wraps at restaurants, but she said working for her boss was also a pleasure.
“The boss is great. She’s not really a boss, she’s a friend and a family,” Muck said.
Glanzer tries to treat everyone like family. She does this at the “farmer picnics” she hosts, which feature hot dogs, brats, cheeseburgers, burgers and baked beans. Or with the watermelon and wraps she serves on particularly hot days. Or the Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter meals she prepares every year.
And they are always ready to welcome new members into the family.
“Some days you’ll come in and say it’s really quiet here, and other days you’ll say where all these people are from? There’s no rhyme or reason, but we’re always ready,” Glanzer said.
Animal’s Bar and Grill is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with additional hours on Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturday. Sunday breakfasts are served from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. every other Sunday.