- Real Estate
- Food & Drink
By Jodi Schwan
OK, let’s be upfront about this.
While Sioux Falls has evolved its downtown and food scenes, we still aren’t quite Portland, Ore.
There are a few cities that draw new residents just by virtue of the culture and vibe they have created, and Portland is one of them. Its brand, as I perceive it, is progressive, open, artistic and laid-back.
It lured Jordan Taylor, a Roosevelt High School graduate, 14 years ago.
“I just wanted to move out there to cook,” he said. “Portland is a small-business and renegade town when it comes to food and beer.”
It went well.
“There were places I dreamed of working at, and I actually got to do it,” he said. “I was lucky enough to work for a couple James Beard Award-winning chefs. It was a better environment to learn. I wanted to be in an environment that was small-business oriented, and I wanted to push the envelope.”
Classmate Barry Putzke took a little more roundabout way out west. He graduated from college, briefly took a job in Atlanta, moved back to Sioux Falls and then brainstormed where to move next with a couple of friends.
“Me and two buddies basically narrowed it down to Portland, Missoula or Sacramento and said let’s try Portland.”
Yes, it’s a classic millennial “decide where to live first and then figure out the rest” mentality, but it worked out. Putzke got a job in banking in Portland, got married, and in most stories like this, that’s often the end of any thought of moving back to hometown Sioux Falls.
“I was never really planning on coming back. I didn’t see a reason to,” he said. “But my wife is from Yankton, and we had a little girl. And then it started getting in my head a little more.”
He and Taylor, who had stayed in touch, met for beers one night in Portland.
Taylor shared that he had been thinking of moving back to Sioux Falls to be closer to family.
The idea came up that “maybe we should try something together,” Putzke said.
Fast-forward a little, and the two high school friends this week opened the restaurant Bread & Circus Sandwich Kitchen in downtown Sioux Falls.
It draws on both their expertise, with a menu featuring approachable items with some signature twists. The restaurant will serve a variety of sandwiches, including some Asian-inspired flavors, salads, sides such as German potato salad and fennel slaw, and homemade ice cream.
Their space in Larson Square in Uptown includes an expansive patio.
I asked them how downtown had changed since they grew up here.
“Totally night and day,” Putzke said. “From the physical changes to how they’ve cleaned up the river to how many different restaurants we have now.”
Equally important, “there’s so much more of a community sense now,” he continued. “Small, locally owned shops all have each other’s back. Groups like DTSF (Downtown Sioux Falls Inc.) are making it more easy for people to find out what’s going on down here. And folks in city leadership made decisions to try to move more people down here for shopping and dining, making parking easier. Things are definitely on the right track and looking great.”
Their enthusiasm for the city goes beyond the climate for business, though.
Both have moved to central Sioux Falls and say it doesn’t feel all that different from the West Coast living they left behind.
“To get up on a Saturday and be able to walk downtown and get coffee, it made moving from Portland not feel that much different,” Putzke said. “And we love being part of that central Sioux Falls community.”
Taylor, too, feels like not much has changed.
“I thought it would be a drastic difference because I always lived within 25 blocks of downtown Portland,” he said. “I feel like I’m at home.”
Yes, it’s two people and one small business, but it’s a great example of what economic developers have been trying to achieve for Sioux Falls.
And it’s proof that investing in the right foundation – downtown vibrancy and core neighborhoods – can bring people back with new ideas and a commitment to help their community take one more step in the right direction.
These new downtown businesses owners didn’t think they would ever move back to Sioux Falls. Now that they have, they can’t believe how it’s changed.