Breweries see a steady increase in customers returning to downtown

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s another beautiful Friday night in downtown Sioux Falls, one that would generally bring out droves of people to the center of the city. But what kind of late night traffic are local bars and breweries seeing post-COVID-19 restrictions?

“We’ve been slowly seeing an increase in our taproom here in downtown,” Fernson Downtown General Manager Owen Byrnes said.

Slow and steady seems to be a theme as each weekend more people venture out after COVID-19 closures.

“Each weekend seems to be growing and growing and growing, but we’re still not back to pre-covid numbers yet,” Remedy Brewing Company co-owner Matthew Hastad said.

Remedy Brewing and other businesses in eastbank are not only dealing with the impact of the pandemic, but also the 8th Street bridge project.

“The eastbank has been hit with a lot of construction this year,” Hastad said. “It definitely has impacted business. 8th Street is kind of lifeline… with that being down, people really have to think and want to come down here rather than just stumble upon us.”

But as the local brewery begins to bring back some special events, customers are returning and taking some extra precautions.

“Last weekend was the best weekend we had since we’ve reopened, prior to that we were running about 60 to 70 percent,” Hastad said. “People are still being very respectful and they are still practicing social distancing as much as they can which is great.”

“We’ve been at several places over the past couple of days, a couple of the places were packed, we were very surprised at how full they were,” Fernson customer Mike Heyl said. 

Mike Heyl and his wife are visiting Sioux falls this week and like many people are excited to be able to enjoy some of their favorite local outings again.

“You can see a big difference between some of the restaurants and bars here, we really appreciate the ones that are more cautious with the gloves and the masks, that’s what we’re used to,” Heyl said.

“There’s definitely an increased volume downtown,” Byrnes said.

Byrnes at Fernson’s says he’s seeing a lot more traffic and business along Phillips avenue, but is still working to keep his employees and customers safe.

“When we do hit that peak velocity on a Friday or Saturday night, we try to help people stay apart and we do have things posted encouraging people to keep that distance,” Byrnes said.

Both downtown breweries say their large patios have been a huge help in reopening safely to help keep customers spread out while still giving them a chance to enjoy some of their favorite weekend stops. 

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