Eating out during COVID-19: Sioux Falls names its favorites for carryout, delivery

April 29, 2020

Sioux Falls residents are adapting to ordering takeout and delivery from their favorite restaurants – if they’re still open.

Nearly 900 readers shared insight into how they’re working, living, entertaining and coping during COVID-19 in an open survey conducted by SiouxFalls.Business in partnership with the Augustana Research Institute.

Sioux Falls Confronts COVID-19 was taken from April 6-12. It is not a scientific survey, but it does include representation from all age groups. Respondents were about 70 percent female and 30 percent male.

Picking up food from a restaurant was the second most frequent reason people are leaving their homes, topped only by grocery shopping. Fifty-six percent of survey respondents noted that they had gone out to get a meal.

The survey also asked what different ways diners were getting their meals. Eighty-four percent said they had picked up food from a restaurant, 44 percent had used curbside delivery at a restaurant and 35 percent had used a delivery service.

More than one-third of survey respondents – 37 percent – aren’t eating restaurant food. “I’ve been too anxious to eat food prepared by others, so we have not eaten out in weeks, despite having done so five or six times a week before,” one reader noted.

The largest share – 48 percent – patronize a restaurant one or two times a week. Thirteen percent of people said they order three or four times a week.

The survey asked readers what restaurant has done the best job of adapting to a new business model.

Texas Roadhouse was among the most common responses. The popular restaurant on the southwest side of The Empire Mall campus closed its dining room, changed its hours and started curbside pickup. The impact has been a “drastic decrease in our sales,” said Jordanna Whorton, managing partner.

“We had to get good at to-go pretty fast. … There was definitely a challenge (to do that), and we’re still dealing with that.”

Hours changed from 4 to 10 p.m. to 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The full menu is still available, along with new family meals and steaks that customers can grill at home.

The restaurant has been trying to keep its full staff working, rotating shifts among them to keep paychecks coming, Whorton said.

R Wine Bar & Kitchen also received nods from survey respondents.

“I thought the carryout options from R Wine Bar were great and loved I could order my beer online from Fernson,” one person said.

R Wine Bar closed its dining and event rooms March 20.

“It was kind of a blur shifting from dine-in to dine-out,” said Riccardo Tarabelsi, who owns the downtown business with his wife, Marybeth. “We are known for the incredible experience we give our guests dining with us, so it’s pretty surreal to go from one or two takeout orders every other week to 100 percent takeout, but we are proud of how quickly we adapted.”

R Wine Bar had become known for its live music and wine tasting events, so it moved those to a virtual format.

“We partnered with the Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues Society to provide weekly music events that are livestreamed on Thursdays, which is our normal live jazz nights. Our guests are enthusiastic about coming in for some takeout and wine, going home and tuning in on Facebook. They are basically re-creating the R Wine Bar & Kitchen experience at home as much as possible,” Tarabelsi said.

“We also started doing virtual wine tastings with winery reps from all over the country and tasting wines from all over the world. Our guests pick up wine bottles from us and then join us on Zoom, which allows people to see other people tasting the same wines you are. One of the best compliments we got from one of our guests was: ‘Thank you for doing this. For the first time, I felt like I wasn’t in quarantine.’ ”

Several survey respondents also frequently mentioned Vanguard Hospitality’s restaurants – Morrie’s Steakhouse, Grille 26, Minervas and Turks & Caicos Cabana Grille – noting the addition of family meals. Other restaurants with at least 10 mentions include Culver’s, Johnny Carino’s, Sanaa’s 8th Street Gourmet, Look’s Marketplace and TC’s Referee.

Restaurants, other food businesses respond to COVID-19

In their own words, here’s what survey respondents had to say about some of the other restaurants that are doing a good job of adapting:

“Burger King delivers – what?!?”

“Those that are doing curbside pickup and giving back to the community by making meals for children and giving back to their own employees.”

“Carino’s has expanded their half-price family platters –for select entrees – throughout the week, and we’ve taken advantage of that!”

Slim Chickens speeds up drive-thru; Carino’s plans slow ease into dining room

“None. Maybe Jimmy John’s. The person just hid my sandwich behind a plant and left, so nothing even close to contact.”

To see more results from the COVID-19 survey, click below.

Survey results: Sioux Falls residents weigh in on life during COVID-19


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Eating out during COVID-19: Sioux Falls names its favorites for carryout, delivery

Sioux Falls residents are adapting to ordering takeout and delivery from their favorite restaurants – if they’re still open.

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