The co-owners of Café Brulé are expanding their passion for food and downtown Vermillion to a new business, which is set to open next month.
Dakota Brick House is located at 15 W Main St., in the building formerly known as Raziel’s. The owners call the business a gastropub, which is defined as a pub that offers meals of high quality.
Co-owners Monica Iverson and Jim Waters have been business partners since 2004 when they opened Café Brulé.
Iverson said the pair has been thinking about new ideas for food for quite some time, and decided to take advantage of the vacant building across the street.
“We’ve really enjoyed being downtown, and we’re very passionate about food and Vermillion,” she said. “We thought it was a perfect opportunity to be able to expand what we do and also help make the downtown look better. We’re all about Vermillion and USD.”
Iverson and Waters are both especially excited for the business’s gas/wood fired oven, which they say will allow them to do dishes that other local restaurants may not be able to offer.
The new gastropub will also have a copper tap that holds 20 kinds of beer, which was designed and created by Dakota Brick House general manager Josh Scherrer, a USD graduate.
Scherrer said though they’ll have a few of the same standard beers as other businesses downtown, their focus will be on craft beers, which will rotate.
“Most places here keep the same beer on tap all year, and we plan to only have five that will stay on our tap line all year,” Scherrer said. “And the rest of them will rotate. So every time a keg taps out, we put a different keg on.”
Iverson said they’re hoping to introduce the area to what’s already popular in Sioux Falls, like Taphouse 41 and JL Beers.
“We really think there’s an appetite for that in the area,” she said.
Dakota Brick House’s food menu will rotate as well, though its contents will remain secret until the opening.
The last part of the building that needs to be renovated is the kitchen. Once it’s up and running, Iverson said that will give them a chance to experiment with the recipes already in their heads.
“(Jim) likes to create things as he goes, and then we try it and it’s fantastic and we put it on the menu,” she said.
Iverson also has a few new ideas for desserts, though she’ll still be doing most of her baking at Café Brulé.
Dakota Brick House will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., so as not to compete with the bars downtown.
“We really didn’t want to bring another bar, we wanted to bring in good food,” Iverson said.
Iverson and Waters estimated that Dakota Brick House will have the capacity to hold 90 people inside and 30 people in its outdoor patio.
They both said they want the new business to be a destination for all ages and maintain “college-friendly” prices. Iverson said they’ll have a few TVs on during USD games, but they still want the atmosphere to be family-oriented.
“We’ll have games on, but we don’t want to be like a sports bar,” she said. “We want to kind of be different than what’s already here.”
Overall, Iverson described the Dakota Brick House as “rustic industrial.” She said they’ve incorporated more of the building’s history into the design than originally planned.
The space was originally two separate buildings, that were combined somewhere around 20 to 30 years ago, Iverson said.
Both were built in the early 1880s, and one is the oldest-standing building in downtown. Built in 1880, it’s older than Old Main and the Austin Whittemore House, Iverson said.
One of Iverson’s favorite parts of the building is one interior brick wall. When they uncovered the brick, they found an advertisement that read, “Chew Spearhead tobacco.”
“That’s why they painted the advertisement on the brick, because this was an open alleyway at the time,” she said.
Iverson said when they first purchased the building, its walls were coming down and it had a range of issues, including brick and foundation problems, electrical problems and plumbing problems.
“Everything has been completely gutted and redone and restored,” she said, adding that they’ve been working hard nearly every day since last fall.
Much of restaurant’s structural work and interior design have been done by Waters, Iverson and their friends and family.
They’ve gotten creative — some of their benches are from Jimmy John’s, and many of their light fixtures were made from trash cans and whisks from old commercial mixers.
Iverson attributes much of the duo’s success to their good working relationship.
“We’ve been friends for 15 years, and we fight like brother and sister,” she said, laughing. “We’ll be in a huge argument and then the next minute we’re talking about bar stools. We just move forward.”