Pictured above: Tracey and Nik (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate) Sing, the owners of Hickory Street Kitchen and Cocktails located in Sisseton, South Dakota.
Sisseton, SD – As the COVID-19 pandemic winds down around the country, many restaurants are picking up the pieces and struggling to re-start operations. However, in the town of Sisseton, South Dakota, Hickory Street Kitchen & Cocktails, is celebrating five years of thriving business. Owner, Tracey Sing, attributes their success, despite the pandemic, to lots of hard work, strong community support, employees who are like family, and an unwavering relationship with a dedicated lender.
Although Tracey and Nik (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate), her husband and business partner, both had years of experience in the service industry and were familiar with what it took to run a business, there were still challenges they had to overcome. Finding and keeping employees in an industry notorious for high turnover has been their biggest hurdle, but Tracey says they now have a cohesive team. They were able to retain 75% of their employees throughout the pandemic, and the other 25% has returned as they have felt safe to do so.
“We have some real great people and actually employ some family members. But even for the people that are not biologically family, they’ve become family to us,” expresses Tracey.
From the start, Hickory Street Kitchen & Cocktails has had strong community support, but during the pandemic Tracey and Nik were overwhelmed by acts of goodwill.
“The pandemic was tough, but the community really banded together and supported us. People were ordering just to order – just to keep us going. People would order $30 or $40 worth of food and leave $100,” explains Tracey.
From a finance perspective, Tracey says their lender, Four Bands Community Fund, a nonprofit loan fund based out of Eagle Butte, South Dakota, helped a lot during the pandemic by making sure they knew about relief programs available, assisting with applications, and even providing flexible terms on their loan.
“They’ve been amazing! Nick and I both talk about how we were so lucky to find them and do business with them – through the whole five years, not just the pandemic. They are just really dedicated personable people taking the time to give us what we need,” says Tracey.
In addition to all of this, the fuel that has really ignited the business growth at Hickory Street has been Tracey and Nik’s dedication to creating a place for community. Over the years, the couple has continuously updated equipment, remodeled facilities, and added new specials to their menu.
“We’ve put everything we had into it,” says Tracey. As a result, they enjoy the satisfaction of “having a place where people can come in and get together and be around friends and family.”
Tracey reflects on the most rewarding part of owning and operating a restaurant, “For me, it’s been when things go well, and customers come see you and say their meal was amazing. It fills me with such pride that we’ve done a good job.”
For the next five years, Hickory Street Kitchen & Cocktails plans to keep doing what they’ve been doing. Tracey says, “Our main goal is just to keep people happy and having a good time, surprising them with new things and new ideas.”
About Four Bands Community Fund
Four Bands Community Fund, a nonprofit organization established in 2000, continuously strives to create economic opportunity by helping people build strong and sustainable small businesses and increase their financial capability to create assets and wealth. Our programs and services translate the traditional Lakota values of self-sufficiency, wise resource management, and a spirit of entrepreneurship into practical applications for today’s modern Native American communities. As a certified Native community development financial institution (CDFI), our programs and services are designed to empower our community members to achieve prosperity, whether it is through developing a new business or increasing personal financial skills.
Native Business Magazine
Carmen Davis - Founder, Publisher and Executive Editor
Mrs. Davis is the founder, publisher and executive editor of the only Native American wholly owned and operated national tribal business publication, Native Business Magazine, and the producer of the annual and nationally attended Native Business Summit.
Mrs. Davis is also president of Davis Strategy Group has over 23 years of service to Indian Country and as an entrepreneur she has successfully established, operated, managed and grown several businesses in multiple sectors. She is equal parts a strategic visionary and behind-the-scenes implementor, essential in guiding and overseeing every process of brand development, business expansion, nation-to-nation relationship building and more.
She was named in 2009 as one of the first recipients of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s, “40 Under 40” award which recognizes up and coming community and business leaders from across Indian Country.