Brookings restaurant sees business increase after mask mandate

Local News

After all the debate over mask mandates, a South Dakota city has the numbers to back up their effectiveness.

Brookings County has the lowest number of COVID-19 cases per capita, out of the 10 most populated counties in the state.

The Brookings City Council enacted a mask mandate on September 8th.

Now, nearly three months later, the science behind following CDC guidelines is proving to be accurate.

“It’s satisfying to know that we have promoted public health and safety in the community in the way we have hoped to. And that’s only true because the members of our community, staff and students at our state university, staff and students in our schools, all kind of theoretically linked arms and promoted masking together. And I do think it’s had a positive impact,” Brookings City Councilor Nick Wendell said.

Wendell says not only has it helped cut down on hospitalizations and deaths in Brookings County, the mask mandate has also helped keep businesses from shutting down, keeping the local economy going.

The mask mandate is set to expire at the end of December.

The city council will look at extending it again later this month because of its effectiveness.

We checked in with a Brookings business to find out how it’s been impacted by the mask mandate.

Michael Johnson is the general manager and head chef at the Pheasant Restaurant & Lounge.

He noticed a change at the family-owned establishment right after the city council passed the mask mandate.

“A lot of businesses were nervous about having a mask mandate, but we noticed the day after the city voted, the council voted for the mask mandate, the phone ringing, hearing voices that we hadn’t heard in a long time of people who finally felt comfortable coming out,” Pheasant Restaurant & Lounge general manager and head chef Michael Johnson said.

Business picked up.

“We saw an increase in customers with dine-in specifically,” Pheasant Restaurant & Lounge assistant general manager Trevor Clements said.

Still, business is down compared to what it was like before the pandemic.

But both men are grateful during this challenging time.

“We’ve got an amazing staff that’s really rolling with these incredible punches day-to-day, hour-to-hour. We’ve got an immensely supportive community. I don’t think everybody’s as lucky as we are to have the community support that we do. That said, nobody is immune. At the end of the day you’ve got to make sure that you can keep going,” Clements said.

“We’ve always been proud to be a part of this community and I would say more so now than maybe ever,” Johnson said.

Johnson remains optimistic about the Pheasant’s future in Brookings.

You’ll notice lots of other safety measures in the restaurant including anti-microbial menus that are disinfected between use and hand sanitizer at every table.

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