Search and rescue workers were hungry, exhausted when this Utah restaurant stepped in

Search and rescue workers were hungry, exhausted when this Utah restaurant stepped in

Kim Houtz, Dairy Keen owner, chats with Andrea Buhl after taking her order at Dairy Keen in Heber on Tuesday. Houtz made 50 cheeseburgers and 50 ham sandwiches for Wasatch County Search and Rescue on Sunday, when Dairy Keen is usually closed. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

HEBER CITY — Local burger joint Dairy Keen typically isn’t open on Sundays. But this past Sunday, the figurative ox was in the mire.

Jan Olpin, whose family has owned and operated Dairy Keen since 1946, said her sister received a text while sitting in church: Wasatch County Search and Rescue had been helping look for 34-year-old Colby Sheriff since he went missing on July 28. And after working all weekend, they could really, really use some burgers.

Olpin’s family didn’t hesitate. They received word around 11 a.m. that the searchers needed lunch, and by noon, had put out 50 cheeseburgers and 50 ham and cheese sandwiches, the latter for searchers who wouldn’t make it back into town until later, Olpin said.

Sheriff’s body was found around 6 p.m. that day about 1.5 miles from his car. He had been last seen near the Daniels Summit Lodge. The state medical examiner will now determine Sheriff’s cause of death.

The food was particularly needed after two all-night searches in a row, said Commander Kam Kohler with the Wasatch County Search and Rescue team.

The search party consisted of about 60 civilians and about 60 search and rescue professionals from Wasatch, Davis, Summit and Utah counties, he said. And by Sunday, their professional searchers were operating on just about two hours of sleep.

Kim Houtz, Dairy Keen owner, hands shakes to Betsy Ricks outside of Dairy Keen in Heber on Tuesday. Houtz made 50 cheeseburgers and 50 ham sandwiches for Wasatch County Search and Rescue on Sunday, when Dairy Keen is usually closed.
Kim Houtz, Dairy Keen owner, hands shakes to Betsy Ricks outside of Dairy Keen in Heber on Tuesday. Houtz made 50 cheeseburgers and 50 ham sandwiches for Wasatch County Search and Rescue on Sunday, when Dairy Keen is usually closed. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

Koehler said he wondered what they’d do about food for their professional crew, since so few places in the area are open on Sundays.

So he reached out to Dairy Keen, which has been supporting the search and rescue team for as long as the restaurant has existed, he said.

“They were closed up, but it didn’t matter. They had those sandwiches knocked out so fast,” Koehler said. “Anytime we ask, they respond.”

The crew’s Facebook page later posted a shout-out to Dairy Keen, thanking the business for feeding them during a “very long search.”

Olpin said the professional searchers insisted on paying for Sunday’s lunch, but Dairy Keen has donated food to local organizations plenty of times.

“We are all together in this,” she said. “That’s what community is all about.”

Koehler added that Heber City’s small-town roots are why the locals are so supportive of each other.

“When somebody is in trouble, everybody steps up to help, no matter what the situation is,” he said. “This is just an extension of that.”

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