Here's some food for thought, courtesy of the National Restaurant Association.
Sales in the restaurant industry was expected to bring in about $863 billion in 2019 -- or around four percent of the U.S.'s gross domestic product. The industry also employed approximately 15.3 million people in 2019 -- or about one in 10 working Americans.
Want something equally as tasty? Four in every 10 consumers say restaurants are an essential part of their lifestyle.
Gotta admit that these facts were in the back of our minds when we were compiling this list of comings, goings and expansions onto Siouxland dining scene.
2019 will go down as a year when eateries opened (the long awaited Marto Brewing Company finally bellied up to the bar), expanded (c'mon, more Sunkist Bakeries is never a bad thing), and sadly, closed their doors for the very last time (we'll always cherish our memories of your Boom Boom Black Bean Pita, Pita Pit!)
However, this recap of 2019's Siouxland food scene actually began on Dec. 31, 2018.
That's when P's Pizza House -- a popular pizza, burger and pasta sports bar, with locations in Le Mars and Orange City, Iowa -- opened its sleek, 8,000-square-foot Dakota Dunes restaurant at 300 Gold Circle about four months behind schedule.
"We were slated to open in August, which is typically the slowest time of the year," general manager David Westergard explained. "Due to a few construction delays, we decided to open on New Year's Eve, which is, historically, one of the busiest nights for a restaurant."
But the eatery, owned by longtime restaurateur Joe Sitzmann, already had a reputation for serving creative comfort foods.
"We had people lined up outside of the door on day one," Westergard said.
And what were folks clamoring for?
"Joe always said it is the quality of our pizza, our pasta, our burgers and our wings that has built this business," Westergard said. "If we get those four things right, we will always be successful."
That was a similar philosophy for Rick and Jena Reyes, a married couple who had been making Sunkist Bakery donuts, cakes, cookies, rolls, buns and pizza dough from its 4607 Morningside Ave. location.
Strictly a Morningside business for more than 80 years, Sunkist opened a 2519 Hamilton Blvd. location in early 2019.
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Currently, most of the Morningside store faves are also available at Sunkist's northside shop. The Hamilton bakery also benefits from a drive-up window for motorists who want to dine and dunk on the road.
A caricature of Eduardo "Guero" Sanchez has become a trademark at Tacos El Guero.
While the easy-going owner may not yet be as iconic a symbol as Wendy's "Wendy" or Burger King's "King," give the guy some time. His namesake taqueria expanded twice in 2019, with more on the horizon.
A downtown mainstay at 525 Pearl St., Tacos El Guero now has a full-service restaurant and bar at 210 East Main St. in Hinton, Iowa, as well as a fast-service shop at 1301 River Drive in North Sioux City opened in August.
Each location serves up a large menu of authentically Mexican tacos, burritos, tortas, quasadillas and fajitas.
WHO WAS NEW?
Peanut butter and jelly. Mac and cheese. Grub and suds. Some things just sound good together.
Opened in June, Marto Brewing Co., a brewery, taproom and restaurant, combined imaginative food created by chef Nick Goodwin with award-winning craft beer brewed on the premises by Erik Martin.
Located in the Promenade Complex at 930 Fourth St., Marto is already attracting buzz from craft brew enthusiasts as well as foodies with an appetite for Neapolitan pizzas, beefy burgers and larger-than-life pretzels.
Ready for a "chango" pace? With its colorful "Jungle Book"-style signage, Taqueria Chango knew how to make an impression.
Specializing in both Salvadoran and Mexican food, the 507 Fifth St. eatery has an extensive buffet consisting of unusual fare like pupusas (a pancake-looking thing loaded with goodies) and steamed tacos (a moist and pliable cousin to a non-steamed tortilla).
It wasn't all good news for Sioux City eateries in 2019. Golden Corral, a national, family-friendly buffet, closed its 5230 Sergeant Road location in June. Pita Pit, which had been serving pitas at 2927 Hamilton Blvd. for nearly a decade, announced its closure in July.
Also making exits were Bootlegger Pizza, 423 Pearl St., and Pinky's Ice Cream & Hot Dogs, 2928 Gordon Drive.
2019 was a year in which Siouxland eateries expanded to new locations, looked for ways to integrate new ingredients and cooking methods into familiar foods and, sadly, closed up shop.
Do you consider restaurants an essential part of your lifestyle? We bet you go out to eat more often than you think. And it is often as much abut atmosphere and entertainment than anything else.
Wonder who and what will be on the menu for 2020? Your friends at the Weekender will be the first to let you know.