Blacksheep Bar and Grill not another empty building in tornado-ravaged town
DELMONT — Opening weekend for The Blacksheep Bar & Grill in Delmont was at least twice as busy as expected. New owners Kim and Ken Rosewall expected a few people to trickle in and try out the food, but never thought it would be so packed.
"We had a steady flow for five hours on Saturday night," Kim Rosewall said. "And people have been coming in every day to eat since we opened. That has made it worth the six weeks of hard work, stress and anxiety."
They ran low on several foods and completely ran out of Bud Light cans on the first night. They anticipated shutting off the grill at 9 p.m., but found farmers are calling for take-out orders around 9:30 p.m. They're still working on how to accommodate those late orders.
The Rosewalls considered taking over ownership of the restaurant last year, but the time wasn't quite right. When their youngest son entered school this year, they again approached Leo Holzbauer who bought the former Delmont Steakhouse in 2015 after the devastating Mother's Day tornado. He never operated the restaurant but wanted to ensure it didn't become another empty building. It has been his mission to find the right owner and turn over the building and business to them, free of charge.
Initially, his terms were the owners must make the business successful over a five-year period, but he realized that was too much commitment.
He changed the terms to one year and the Rosewalls agreed.
"Ken and I kept talking about it and said, 'You know, we should just go for it. What's the worst we can do, fail?'" said Kim. "You never know if you don't try."
And the Rosewalls have tried, and succeeded, and plan to continue succeeding for the long haul.
They spent six weeks revamping and cleaning the building, including building a backroom for two pool tables, two dart boards and eventually video lottery machines. The rest of the building will be used for dining and a hometown gathering place.
While preparing the building for opening day, Kim found Delmont class pictures from the 1940s through 1989 when the school closed. She decided to hang them in the main restaurant and bar area, which has been a great hit. Many locals come in and see their own pictures hanging on the walls or their parents, grandparents or other relatives.
"It's a great conversation starter," she said.
The couple moved to Delmont two years ago from Randolph, Neb., and have declared Delmont to be home. Ken works at Dakota Plains in Napa Junction as a locomotive operator. So, Kim runs the restaurant with help from her servers and cooks, and sometimes with a little help from regular customers.
"We're not from the community, but there's a lot of support here," she said.
On Sunday morning, Kim was working alone and a rush of customers filed in the door to accompany the regular clientele already dining, including Holzbauer.
"Leo got up and filled water cups for me, and another regular filled coffee cups," Kim said. "When you have regulars, they know you bust your butt and they're willing to step in. That's what the community is all about. You treat them well and they treat you well."
That philosophy has been working so far, and not only for regular customers. People from as far as Mitchell, Yankton and Tyndall have been traveling to Delmont for the good food and atmosphere at The Blacksheep. In fact, several people in town and out of town have called to reserve seating over the weekend, particularly for the Mother's Day buffet on Sunday, which includes broasted chicken and roast beef, with corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade mac and cheese, rolls, plus a chocolate fountain and fresh fruit.
"All roads lead to Delmont," Kim said, referencing the town's location a couple miles off Old Highway 18's route. "If there's good food, they will drive to get good food. It may not help us get 600 more residents, but it shows all hope is not lost."
Delmont is centrally located for a good outing from neighboring towns like Armour, Parkston, Tripp, Avon and Tyndall. It's only a 45-minute drive from Mitchell. As of Thursday, Kim said she had a group of 15 and a group of four reserve space for the Sunday brunch buffet.
"They just wanted to make sure they had a spot," she said.
Kim has been enjoying dozens of great compliments from customers both in person and online since they opened a week ago. The restaurant's Facebook page has been flooded with reviews about the great food, amazing atmosphere and fun, friendly people.
One area person approached Kim this week after he had his meal and voiced concern. He said her food was so delicious he was scared she'd take the restaurant to a larger town.
"He said, 'You're too good, you're going to end up in Mitchell or Sioux Falls.'" Kim shook her head. "I said, 'No. We're going to stay home. This is where we want to be.'"