Owamni by the Sioux Chef isn’t the country’s first Indigenous restaurant. But it’s probably the most influential, and that’s without having served a single meal.
“We’re hoping to be a role model,” said chef/co-owner Sean Sherman. “We’re hoping that a lot of people will take some of the ideas of what we’re doing, and that there can be Indigenous restaurants in every city.”
The opening-soon restaurant, a centerpiece of the new $24 million Water Works park on the downtown Minneapolis riverfront, has been percolating for years. In 2014, Sherman and partner Dana Thompson founded the Sioux Chef, a catering and food education enterprise. Two years later, the couple submitted their restaurant proposal to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
“When we started the Sioux Chef, with almost nothing, I couldn’t imagine that our first full-service restaurant would be this big, massive project,” said Sherman, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. “And on such a beautiful, sacred Dakota site.”
He’s referring to nearby Owámniyomni (roughly, “the place of the falling, swirling waters”), the Dakota name for what is now St. Anthony Falls, the only major cataract on the Mississippi River.
During the busy warm-weather season, Owamni will serve lunch and dinner and follow a hybrid service format, with table service in the dining room, online ordering on the patios and takeout for nearby picnics.
“Because we have this great location, we know that there will be a lot of curious people coming in,” said Sherman. “We just want to make everyone comfortable. It’s going to […]