Turn of the Century Decor, Modern Comforts
The History of the Ruby House is one that has been handed down from generation to generation. As the story has been repeated, it has gained a few “characters” and has become a bit of urban legend. Although we have grown to love these stories and the “characters” that have been created, we have to say that the REAL history of the Ruby House is interesting enough to stand on its own. Here is part of that history ~
In 1970 Mr. Leo Toskin purchased the Sagdalen family home on Winter Street in addition to the Standard gas station that was next door. Leo got right to work and converted the house and gas station into a restaurant and saloon and named it “The Ruby House”. Business was just beginning to flourish when the devastating flood of June 9, 1972, demolished much of Keystone. The Ruby House was unsalvageable and had to be torn down. Although this was a devastating time for Keystone and the Black Hills, the devastation was much more personal for Leo, as both of his parents perished in Rapid City during the flood.
Determined to carry on, Leo used his strong will and determination and had The Ruby House and Red Garter Saloon rebuilt. The Ruby House quickly became a popular, thriving business. Leo took pride in adorning the walls with antiques and a large gun collection that took several years to acquire. To honor the spirit of the Sioux Indians, Leo set aside a special room to showcase Indian artifacts and crafts. He also dedicated a room to the great Sioux Chief, War Eagle, who was a leader known for his love of peace and ability to preserve harmony between dissimilar cultures.
In 1996, Steve and Linda Zwetzig, another family with very deep roots in the Keystone community, joined the “Ruby House” when they leased the restaurant from Leo while he continued running the Red Garter Saloon that is adjacent to the Ruby House.
Unfortunately, the flood of ’72 was not the only devastation the Ruby House would face. Early in the morning of June 18, 2003, a fire started on the corner of Winter and Swanzy Street. Despite the hard work and efforts of the Keystone Fire Department and many fire departments from the surrounding area, the Ruby House could not be saved. The fire destroyed seven businesses that dreadful day. Fortunately, no lives were lost. Once again, Leo, along with Steve, Linda, and the Keystone community and many long-time employees and supporters got right to work and restored the buildings with fortitude. Less than a year later, on May 20, 2004, The Ruby House and Red Garter Saloon were reopened for business.
Many of the antiques and artifacts that were lost in the fire were irreplaceable. Including one of the country’s largest collection of Winchester rifles, antique period pistols, and an original Tiffany Lamp! The Zwetzig’s have spent numerous hours searching through antique stores, internet sites, and sending friends and family out to do the same to find items that will help create that special experience that will take their guests back in time.
We continue to honor South Dakota’s Sioux Nation by dedicating our “Indian Room” to the late Paha Ska, a local native artist whose work we proudly display in this room, which includes some of the last items Paha Ska created before he passed. Paha Ska and his loyal horse could be seen on the boardwalk of Keystone for over 4 decades. Both the restaurant and saloon have original Paha Ska Buffalo pelts which tell meaningful stories rich in Sioux heritage.
Today, The Ruby Restaurant is still leased and operated by the Zwetzig’s along with their daughter, Brandi Hunsaker. Since Leo Toskin’s passing, the Red Garter Saloon, adjacent to the Ruby House is now operated by his daughter Lisa.
There you have it. The “REAL” history of The Ruby House. Now, if you want the “urban legend” part of the story — well, you will have to stop by The Ruby House for that bit of information. Hope to see you there!