What Happened to the Touch of Europe Restaurant and Jazz Club?


If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that question, I could re-build the place by now.

First, a brief history about the place. The ‘TOE’ as us regulars called it was open for almost 20 years. The original owner Martin, only owned the place for about a year before selling it to Razmik ‘RAZ’ Mktarian. Raz and his wife ran the place until his death about 8 years ago. She operated the business until its closure.

What I do know;

In February of 2014, a City of Sioux Falls fire Hydrant on the corner of 12th and Phillips in front of the restaurant exploded. It took the fire department over an hour (according to witnesses) to shut it off. The result was almost 2 feet of water in the basement restaurant and other properties, including Bechtold’s jewelry.

The result of the flooding destroyed all of the belongings in the restaurant. It also destroyed some plumbing and electrical and also damaged the foundation.

What I ‘kind of’ know;

Insurance helped pay for cleanup and gutting the restaurant.

What I am not sure of;

I think the property owner and restaurant owner were in negotiations with the city’s risk management department for compensation for damages, but I am not sure if anything was resolved. I think a request to fix the foundation and to make the place ADA compatible came from the city before it could reopen.

Even if the place will not reopen (the owner has moved on, and has no intention of reopening the TOE at that location or any other.) I still feel the city owes the building owner and restaurant owner for loss of business and damages. The damage was clearly caused by the city’s faulty pipes, and this is what the city has risk insurance for. Like I said, not sure if that compensation has occurred, but it is highly unlikely. Ever try to squeeze blood out of a turnip?

It’s unfortunate that the state’s first Jazz Club had to go out this way, it’s even more sad that our city can’t even own up to causing the damage.


#1 Angry Guy on 04.02.15 at 9:59 am

It’s a damn shame about TOE.
Where am I supposed to get giant beers and snarky service?

#2 l3wis on 04.02.15 at 10:22 am

Yeah, that short fat waiter was the bomb!

#3 Dan Daily on 04.02.15 at 11:38 am

The city has a habit of this attitude toward small business. It would be nice to have a city that represented and respected people. Home Rule Charter has made the city big business that sometimes competes but generally obstructs small business. To they, it’s more important to built money losing inferior construction palaces than replace and maintain infrastructure. I remember government of, by, and for the people. Until enough people realize what’s happened, it’s everyone for themselves. Owner at the TOE learned this the hard way.

#4 Titleist on 04.02.15 at 4:59 pm

I miss Raz. (In the immortal words of Neil Young, Long may you run).
I miss the TOE.

#5 hornguy on 04.03.15 at 1:14 pm

Too bad about what happened and how the city has handled it. This place was a real gem, especially the live music.

#6 l3wis on 04.03.15 at 1:28 pm

I wish I could say more, but nobody is saying much, including the city.

#7 Tony on 04.03.15 at 6:01 pm

You are assuming the fire department is responsible for handling a “exploded” hydrant. The fire department turns the hydrant on or off with the stem and nut on top of the hydrant. If it “exploded” then it was most likely a problem underground and thus the responsibility of public works. In this part of the country we have “dry hydrants” due to the frost level below ground in winter. The valve that opens the water flow is quite a few feet below ground, not sure exactly how many feet. The fire department does not have the expertise or the equipment to excavate the area around the hydrant to get to the valve.

#8 l3wis on 04.04.15 at 12:11 am

Tony, thank you for you comment, I really should have clarified on that. It took a combination of the public works and FD over and hour to shut it off. But as I understand it, they could have shut off a main to stop the bleeding, not sure how easy that would have been. I do know this though, those pipes were replaced less then 10 years ago, it puts into question what kind of pipe was purchased and if the city could have actually gone after the supplier to help out this small business owner.

#9 Wayne on 04.08.15 at 1:04 am

I really miss the stuffed cabbage and the European ambience

#10 Rebecca Schreurs on 02.15.17 at 7:36 am

I was wondering if you know more about the first owner of Touch of Europe in 1996?

#11 l3wis on 02.15.17 at 8:50 am

Martin moved to Chicago after selling it to Razmik. Not sure if he is still there.

#12 Rebecca Schreurs on 06.18.18 at 1:15 am

I’m just seeing your response a year later, but I’m wondering if you know Martins last name?

Leave a Comment