Eye On KELOLAND: Concerts & cuisine


SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Music fans aren’t the only ones excited about the return of performers to the Levitt at the Falls stage, starting next month. Businesses located across the street from the Levitt band shell are also looking forward to concert-goers coming back to downtown Sioux Falls.

Papa Woody’s composed a coincidental dining duet with Levitt at the Falls back in 2019. The pizza place located in the Jones 421 building decided to hold its grand-opening on the day of the very first Levitt concert following some construction delays.

“We thought, well, a handful of things could go wrong, but we gotta get through them anyways so we might as well open the doors and see what happens so we opened the very first Levitt concert that same day, was our very first day of business here,” Papa Woody’s owner Lisa Esser said.

Owner Lisa Esser never regretted the decision. Concert goers have been steady customers ever since that opening, many of them venturing into her business by accident.

“They’re over at the concerts, they’re wandering around, maybe need to find a bathroom or some air-conditioning and come into the building and kind of look around and go, I didn’t know this was here and so they become lifelong customers after that,” Esser said.

But that customer spillover from the Levitt band shell ended last year when the concerts were cancelled by the pandemic. And businesses across the street suffered.

“There were plenty of days where we sat here all by ourselves and not a soul, the phone never rang, no orders came in,” Esser said.

The drop in customers also impacted Swamp Daddy’s.

“We definitely took a huge hit. But thankfully, we were able to stay afloat, we stayed open and service, we really hit hard on the delivery and curbside pickup,” Swamp Daddy’s owner Inkka Beaudion said.

Now, Swamp Daddy’s is expanding its summer menu for the return of Levitt concertgoers to the restaurant.

“We are looking at bringing more tacos, some burgers, some crowd favorites, some boudin balls we are bringing back and also some wings, some different flavor of wings, so there’s a few things that we are bringing to the table,” Beaudion said.

Pappy Woody’s has installed this bar in the hallway outside the business in anticipation of the larger crowds here for the Levitt concerts.

“We actually decided to separate it a little bit, so if you just want beer or wine, we’ve got a separate line for you to stay in, so we’re hoping it will move people through a little faster,” Esser said.

Papa Woody’s is planning to move to a larger location just three blocks up the street. Esser says it was important to stay in this uptown area of Sioux Falls, with so much going on this summer.

“I think we’re in a prime location to be kind of that hot spot, if you will,” Esser said.

Nearby restaurants see the return of Levitt at the Falls as a high note in their emergence from the uncertainty over the pandemic.

“I think that was a great opportunity of having the Levitt here because it brings people downtown, it gets them exploring some of the businesses that are here, it gets them spending money which small businesses like us, really appreciate,” Beaudion said.

And restaurants are ready to feed the need as concertgoers feast on a steady diet of music this summer.

“What better thing to listen to some good music and to fill your belly, to fill your soul,” Beaudion said.

Restaurants near the Levitt shell plan to stay open later on concert nights. They say they missed out on a lot of business that first year by being closed when the concerts ended and the crowds were looking for a place to hang-out after the shows.

You can check out this summer’s Levitt rundown by clicking here

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