Eye on KELOLAND: Mouth-watering melting pot

Eye on KELOLAND

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — A new Sioux Falls restaurant is already making big changes just two months after its opening.

The Watecha Bowl specializes in authentic Native American food. Within the past week, it refurbished its storefront and started a delivery service. The Watecha Bowl has also grown into a cultural melting pot with each meal.

First-time customer Chelsey Grace is sampling her first taste of the Watecha Bowl.

“So good! So good! You did good. Uh-huh,” Grace said.

Satisfied customers like Grace have been streaming into the Native American restaurant ever since it’s opening in April.

“Every day we open the doors, people are waiting to come in, knockin’ down the doors, so can’t complain,” Watecha Bowl owner Lawrence West said.

Owner Lawrence West says the Watecha Bowl is unique in offering diners authentic Lakota food, seven days a week.

“The bison beef, powwow food,” West said.

The Watecha Bowl staff is made up entirely of Native Americans. West knew his restaurant would feed a need among the local Native American community, but he’s surprised by the large number of non-Native Americans who order food here.

“There’s been all walks of life, religion, race, people I didn’t think had an interest in, or would have an interest in this type of food, West said.

Jordan Dvorak of Renner has become a regular at the Watecha Bowl.

“I probably come here a couple times a week, something like that. I usually like to try the Indian tacos, and we’ve been trying different things, both myself and my family, and they’ve all been really good and it’s a good spot,” Dvorak said.

Dvorak says the cultural experience during his visit to the restaurant is a satisfying side dish.

“You definitely get some exposure to it. I mean, you look at the walls and some of the art they have up and obviously, some of the food, too,” Dvorak said.

West says many of his non-Native American customers stop by his restaurant out of curiosity. The food keeps them coming back and provides the opening for a connection with people from other ethnic backgrounds.

“It’s flabbergasting, you know what I mean? And I get the opportunity to meet all of them. And that’s the best part because then I can physically shake their hands and I can hear their stories,” West said.

“Small business, we need to help them out. Great people here. Eat it, it’s good food,” Grace said.

West says the only complaint he’s heard from customers is a lack of seating in the restaurant. But West is looking to change that.

The Watecha Bowl is looking to get a bigger slice out of the local food market. The restaurant here is adding a delivery service, they’ve also added a third food truck, and eventually plan to build a drive-thru on the southern side of Sioux Falls.

“To open that bigger location so we can accommodate those things will the full-service restaurant seating, drive-thru, the interactive Lakota language play area. There’s a number of things we got coming up in the future for Watecha Bowl. It’s all really exciting,” West said.

The restaurant has also added new signage in front to spruce up the outdoor dining experience. The Watecha Bowl is keeping up with a growing customer base where Native American culture and cuisine are breaking down ethnic barriers while satisfying appetites.

“Every day, we’re here, 7 days a week, pumping out great food,” Wes said.

With expansion comes a larger staff. The Watecha Bowl has hired an additional four people to run its newest food truck. You can check out the restaurant’s full menu by clicking here.

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