A popular South Dakota restaurant got a stark reminder recently of just how toxic social media can be.

It all started innocently enough for the staff at the legendary Meridian Corner, which sits just south of Freeman at the intersection of U.S. Highway 81 and South Dakota Highway 18, when they posted a photo on the restaurant's Facebook page of a famous visitor who had dined with them.

So who was the person in the picture who prompted the online outrage? None other than U.S. Senator John Thune.

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As you can imagine in the politically charged climate we live in these days it didn't take long for some commenters to turn nasty:

  • 'I simply question, What has he done for this country and or South Dakota. From a Red person.'
  • 'A Globalist posing with the little people of question him why he stands next to a vegetable and acts like he’s doing America a favor while wearing a Ukraine pin dude is a joke.'
  • 'Thanks for stopping in the state once in awhile 🙄'

And while the vast majority of the more than 50 people who commented steered clear of politics, things got bad enough that the restaurant decided to shut down the comments section on the post.

That decision was followed by a post from Meridian Corner's manager, Abby Streyle:

'We did not know that Senator John Thune was visiting us for lunch and we were delighted by the surprise.

In my opinion, I think it is pretty special that senator Thune chose to dine locally while he was on his way to speak to a nearby school. I will say that he and his group were very polite, great to visit with and were fantastic people for us to serve. That being said, I personally support Mr. Thune but Meridian Corner as a whole does not take political stances as we are a group of people that work together and have become family - even if our political views differ. That is how we used to be as a country and now it is so full of hate.

To summarize, we would love to serve anybody that is willing to visit and we will do our best to treat you like family. We hope you all have a great holiday season and we appreciate your support of a local, family owned business.

Here is my, personal, message to the people commenting nasty things, signed by Abby Streyle (not of behalf of MC).

1. Meeting a Senator like John Thune doesn’t happen every day, we asked him to take a picture, not the other way around.

2. Thune was speaking later that day in a town with multiple fast food options and he chose to support local, why do some of you choose to make this a political debate? We want to give you great service and great food, we honestly do not care who you vote for, we will treat you the same no matter what.

3. If Senator Thune stopping by makes you want to give our staff trouble, please do not. We have a small staff and, odds are, you’ll be giving trouble to someone that wasn’t working that shift.

We thank you for your continued support and business but please, let’s keep politics out of this.'

Following Abby's post, fans of the restaurant posted their support:

  • 'Well said you have great food and staff.'
  • 'He definitely has great taste in food. I can’t blame a guy and his crew for wanting nothing but the best'
  • 'Very well put, Abby! Stand your ground...Politics has no place in a public establishment.'
  • 'BRAVO!! Well said Abby, hold your ground and stick to your guns. It's very exciting to see a national figure stop in unexpected and visit with you as if they were an ordinary common individual. I am so happy for the staff at Meridian Corner!'
  • 'Sorry people just get carried away Abby. Such an honor and a great day to have any person of statue stop by and enjoy the corner.'
  • 'It is unfortunate you have had to deal with nasty comments. I am sure there was plenty of exciting buzz at MC that day. Don’t let the negative Nellie’s take that away. It would be nice if we could get back to less hate and more love for one another.'

This whole incident is a good reminder about just how positive and negative social media can be.

It truly brings out the best, and worst, in people.

Detour Dining: Off-the-Beaten-Path Restaurants You Must Try in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa

Beyond the well-traveled tourist paths, there’s a whole different world of food exploration throughout South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. From tiny restaurants in historic towns serving up generations-old recipes to small town dive bars that not only have cheap, cold beer, but unique and unexpected homemade dishes.

We’ve created an exploration of off-the-beaten path restaurants nestled in the charming landscapes of the tri-state area. Take a detour from the ordinary and discover the extraordinary flavors as you travel the roads not-so-often traveled. 

Gallery Credit: Karla Brown / Townsquare Media

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10 Wild South Dakota Snowstorms

Even though snow is blanketing the Sioux Empire, some snowstorms still do not compare to these ten dreadful snowstorms that hit South Dakota.

Only In Your State highlighted ten snowstorms in South Dakota as a reminder for people to always be aware of the road during the winter. South Dakotans are well aware of the fact that the state’s winters can be harsh which is why it is always a good idea to plan ahead and prepare for the worst.

Do you remember any major snowstorms that hit South Dakota?

Gallery Credit: KXRB

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