Sioux Falls natives Jon Oppold and his wife, Katy, used to walk their French Bulldog, Sunny, in the neighborhood between Augustana University and the University of Sioux Falls, an area they lived in for many years. When a former laundromat on 26th street and Minnesota Avenue became vacant, turning the building into a neighborhood pizza joint was a natural next step for the entrepreneurial couple.
“College students don’t always have a ton to do,” said Oppold. “We wanted to create a place for community here, where people could just come, hang out, and eat pizza.”
Oppold quit his job in marketing to open the pizzeria late last year, but he didn’t leave creative strategy behind when he entered the restaurant business full-time. Instead Oppold took inspiration from those walks with Sunny as a way to brand his new business—naming it Sunny’s Pizzeria—and using memed images of the dog to create a following on social media.
“It was just kind of a fun, quirky way to do things,” said Oppold.
But “jowl-dropping pizza” is more than just a good catchphrase for Sunny’s—it’s a descriptor Oppold says extends to the pizzas he and his staff serve on a daily basis.
Sunny’s specializes in thin-crust pizza that can be done and ready to serve in three minutes using a ventless oven. Pizzas are cooked to taste and made to order, giving customers the freedom to tweak the pizzeria’s house specialties or come up with their own creations.
A Few of Sunny’s Faves
BBQ sauce, sharp cheddar, chicken, mushrooms, onions, jalapeños, and ranch drizzle.
BUFFALO JACK MAC
Buffalo sauce, pepperjack, macaroni, chicken, jalapeños, bread crumbs, and ranch drizzle.
Alfredo, mozzarella, ham, bacon, jalapeños, pineapple, and sriracha drizzle.
Sunny’s sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, pepperoni pizza rolls, and sriracha drizzle.
SOMETHIN’ TO TACO ‘BOUT
Alfredo, mozzarella, sharp cheddar, hamburger, lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and taco sauce drizzle.
Whole-grain mustard, mozzarella, ham, bacon, and pickles.
WURST. PIZZA. EVER.
Whole-grain mustard, mozzarella, sausage, hamburger, and banana peppers.
But while customization is always a draw, patrons at Sunny’s don’t have to look much further than the joint’s specialty pizzas, or Sunny’s Faves, to find something out of the norm.
Options like The Augie Blues, Cougar Meat, and the Sodak Chicken dot the menu, pointing both to Oppold’s love for the local and penchant for the unique. All three of the previous pizzas use a different sauce (alfredo, Sunny’s Sauce, and buffalo sauce, respectively), and a variety of other ingredients—everything from jalapeños and bread crumbs to mushrooms and celery—to serve up something that’s a far cry from a traditional pepperoni and cheese.
“We started off with these specialty pizzas that are our own recipes and expanded from there,” said Oppold. “Some of people’s favorites so far have been our bacon cheeseburger pizza with pickles and our pepperoni pizza with pepperoni pizza rolls on it instead of just pepperoni slices.”
Oppold’s love for local staples like the two colleges Sunny’s is situated between, doesn’t just stop at pizza names, though. Pretty much everything—down to the Stensland Family Farms cheese piled on top of each pie—is homegrown.
“I’m most excited about this becoming a local staple in the neighborhood. I want people to have fun when they come here, and I want to keep it a little quirky.”
“We have four taps in here,” said Oppold, “and all the kegs are brewed in Sioux Falls. This is a small place, and as a Sioux Falls native it was important to me to have that community feel within the space. We’re doing all local as much as we can.”
And what’s more local than neighborhood-wide trivia nights, college game watch parties, or speed puzzle contests? Not much. Sunny’s plans to do it all and more to cater to not only their college student audience, but also anyone who simply wants to go someplace different, try something new, and meet people who live across the street or even across town.
“A big part of Sunny’s isn’t just the pizza, it’s bringing people in and having fun events that give them a chance to hang out,” said Oppold. “We’re really just about keeping it simple here. We’re a neighborhood pizza place.”
For more information, visit sunnyspizzeria.com.