Dakota Seafood Co. starts hiring, nears opening

By Jodi Schwan

Dakota Seafood Co. is about a month away from opening its store in Sioux Falls.

 

The Rapid City-based seafood retailer and wholesaler plans to open in mid-November in a space being renovated at The Bridges at 57th that formerly was Cleaver’s.

The store will cater to seafood lovers as well as professional chefs, with at least 14 varieties of fish daily, three to five kinds of oysters and three to five types and sizes of shrimp, scallops and crab from all over the world.

“If you ask for it and give us three or four days, we’ll find a purveyor,” said Matt Long, general manager. “A chef can dream, and we believe we can find it and get it here.”

A case at Dakota Seafood in Rapid City

The store in Rapid City was founded two years ago by three seafood lovers: Eric Sharpe, Dave Nielsen and Mark Scharn, who became the first company in the state to arrange daily flights of seafood to South Dakota bringing seafood from all over the world.

“Foodies came out of the woodwork,” Nielsen said. “There had been pent-up anxiety for decades maybe, and what we learned was a lot of people had been out in the world and come back and were ready for this.”

Nathan O’Neal, who will run the Sioux Falls operation, said he expects a similar reaction in this market.

“We’re finding people’s palates are becoming a lot more diverse. People just need the means to find it,” he said. “And when you look at the cost per pound, you’re getting great quality at an affordable price.”

In addition to seafood, the store will carry a selection of “unique and exotic red meat,” from Prairie Harvest, Long said. “Wagyu beef, bison and, if you wanted, elk, venison, rattlesnake, caribou or moose.”

Dakota Seafood is renovating the former Cleaver’s space.

Dakota Seafood also will carry a limited selection of produce, beer and wine, so customers could find everything they need for a meal with a stop at the shop.

The plan is to add some dine-in options, such as soups, sushi, meat and cheese trays, and beverages by the glass.

“We’re not a restaurant, and we don’t want to be perceived that way,” Long said. “We want to let it evolve, but we have a beautiful deck, and we’ll have a few tables.”

O’Neal, who has a background in the seafood business from helping manage an upscale California grocery store, expects he will hire 16 to 18 people to start. He can be reached at nathanoneal@outlook.com or 605-681-0146.

Dakota Seafood also anticipates offering in-store classes and tastings, and offering event services such as oyster bars.

Special orders are available at no additional charge. Rapid City chefs have embraced the business so much that restaurants advertise where their seafood is sourced, the founders said.

“It starts to raise the bar. Once someone starts down the path of doing fresh fish at this quality, they will push the market,” Long said. “We’ll be out in the market, but we believe the chefs will set the market. They know the tastes of their clientele.”

The caliber of the Sioux Falls food scene will be a good fit for the business, O’Neal predicted.

“I think Dakota Seafood will be really impressed by the wholesale market here locally,” he said. “I think it might starting turning into a ‘surf war’ and start a new kind of food craze in the area. Good ideas pick up here and move.”

Dakota Seafood Co. starts hiring, nears opening

Dakota Seafood Co. is about a month away from opening its store in Sioux Falls.

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