SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s been 15 months since a tornado hit Plaza 41 in Sioux Falls. Over the past few months, the community has welcomed the re-opening of The Original Pancake House, The Rush, Tuesday Morning and Jo-Ann Fabric; now the last holdout is preparing to open on December 1.
“We’re averaging 1,000 phone calls a day asking when we’re going to open,” Plaza 41 Pizza Ranch co-owner Todd Pharis said.
To say people are excited to get back into the 41st Street Pizza Ranch is an understatement.
“This is the number one Pizza Ranch in the United States and I believe in gross sales we’re the number one restaurant in Sioux Falls. Before the pandemic and before the tornado, we averaged 35,000 customers every month at this location,” Pharis said.
But their doors have been closed to complete the remodel since the tornado hit last September.
“Everything is brand new, we didn’t keep anything,” Pharis said.
The newly designed space features a wall of photos showing just how much damage the restaurant had to overcome before it could re-open.
“We’re really excited to have everyone see the new look and to have all those little changes we wanted to have before the tornado,” Pharis said.
They’ve added about two thousand more square feet to the whole facility. There are now eight party rooms, a larger a kitchen, plus an expanded FunZone with brand new games.
“We’re going to have two TV cameras, so parents can monitor their kids in the fun zone from their table,” Pharis said.
They’ve totally revamped their interior décor, including the addition of a large local art feature.
“I got a hold of Zach DeBoer and asked him if he would be interested in allowing us to have that as a mural on the wall,” Pharis said.
Rebuilding during the pandemic also allowed Pizza Ranch to make some adjustments for added safety.
“Our whole ventilation system has the iWave Purification System in it where it kills like 99.99-percent of all bacteria and viruses.
They’ve also held back more than 100 tables to keep things spaced out and help customers feel safe when they re-open on Tuesday, December 1.
“You can choose where you want to sit, some people want to sit six to eight feet away, we have people that want to sit 20 feet away from each other, so we have those options available,” Pharis said.
Pharis has high praise for his insurance company that paid for the roughly $4 million of building and equipment repairs, but also covered nearly $2 million in employee wages.
All 110 pizza ranch employees have received full pay for the past 15 months the store was closed; they will return with another 20 to 30 new hires to welcome customers back to the new restaurant on December 1.