Vanguard Hospitality cultivates relationships between restaurant guests and local ag producers

Vanguard Hospitality in Sioux Falls works with area producers directly to bring their customers a farm to table experience.

Mushrooms and onions are being prepared at Morrie's Steakhouse in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Ariana Schumacher / Agweek

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — One local restaurant company in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is working to build connections directly with the farmers growing their ingredients and educating their customers about exactly where their food comes from.

Laura Patzer, owner of Cherry Rock Farms, was hard at work planting seeds last week, which will soon grow into the produce that will be served at restaurants owned by Vanguard Hospitality throughout Sioux Falls.

“This Vanguard partnership has been amazing,” said Patzer. “Not only is it providing the freshest most delicious vegetables for their end user, their customers at their restaurants, but it’s also securing just different opportunities for us.”

Laura Patzer plants seeds that will grow into produce to be served at Vanguard Hospitality restaurants across Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Ariana Schumacher / Agweek

The company buys their ingredients directly from around 25 producers. During the summer, this steakhouse uses around 85% of ingredients sourced directly from producers and in the winter around 70%.

“The majority of our producers are from South Dakota; we do have a couple in Iowa and a ranch in Nebraska that we do business with. You know, crossing a border is irrelevant, but we have a hand in every single producer with what it is that we are getting for a product and building a relationship together,” said Tim Meagher, COO of Vanguard Hospitality .


Through the program, Vanguard brings another source of income to these farming and ranching operations.

“So, through what we are doing by creating these relationships, it’s also activated the conversation with the younger generation of those families, well this is interesting, and we can create something more for ourselves. It might be unorthodox or a new way of looking at the world, but this is something I can get behind, and we are seeing that as we continue our relationships,” Meagher said.

“We know that they want to purchase specific amounts each week, and with that we can plan accordingly, and we have the space and as well as the means coming in to continue to kind of grow our farm, and they provide income for our farm as well,” Patzer said.

Each menu is labeled with the farm names so that consumers know exactly where their food is coming from. One of the challenges that comes with this is keeping up with the demand for product.

“This is very unique because you make phone calls for every order, and you know, there’s a lot of time that goes into it. So before actually saying this is who we are, we tested that we can actually function and grow this, and we are committed to the philosophy, because that’s truly what it is: it’s a commitment to our community, to say this is who we are and this is what we do and here are the people that we work with,” Meagher said.

The menu at Morrie's Steakhouse in Sioux Falls.
Ariana Schumacher /Agweek

Vanguard Hospitality currently has three restaurants, which are utilizing direct purchasing from producers. Customers can see exactly where their food is coming from on the menu and get links and information about all of the operations participating.

“Our guests absolutely love it,” Meagher said. “It truly resonates with anybody that is in the farm or ranch industry when they come in and they see this, even if it’s not their farm or their ranch, knowing that another producer is taken care of and they’ve done something that maybe didn’t seem possible, they get really excited for that. Our customers notice a lot of flavor changes.”

A steak prepared at Morrie's Steakhouse.
Ariana Schumacher / Agweek

The program is cultivating relationships with local producers to create a sustainable food chain for generations to come.


“I have always asked myself, what is true sustainability and what is the need for our communities? So, it’s not necessarily just business related. This bigger picture that we are going toward is how do we support farms and ranches that want to diversify,” said Meagher. “We work together interdependently and that creates safety. So, we have to grow that safety together, and it’s going to take more than us to do it.”

“We have a lot of pride when we go to their restaurants, especially in the summertime when we know that our produce is on the menu, it’s just really kind of full circle for us,” Patzer said. “We just love that it’s such an important thing for them to provide their customers with the highest quality of food that they can, and it’s important that they thought of us as one of their partners to do that.

Ariana is a reporter for Agweek based out of South Dakota. She graduated from South Dakota State University in 2022 with a double major in Agricultural Communications and Journalism, with a minor in Animal Science. She is currently a graduate student at SDSU, working towards her Masters of Mass Communications degree. She enjoys reporting on all things agriculture and sharing the stories that matter to both the producers and the consumers.

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