When Dave Thompson, an accomplished Sioux Falls
restaurateur, traded some "cooking knowledge" with Jamie
Volin for "tennis knowledge," a budding friendship
developed. Fifteen years later, Thompson is being
honored with the 1999 South Dakota Tennis Achievement
Award for his many years of distinguished involvement as
a business owner supporting the tennis community.
The annual award, given by the SD Tennis Hall of Fame
Steering Committee, was started in 1997 to recognize
tennis achievements by families or individuals, tennis
teams or communities that significantly impacted South
Thompson had ventured from Luverne, MN as a high
school junior to learn to cook at The Galley Restaurant
near the Sioux Falls Arena. That left him little time to
learn tennis until age 30, when he enrolled in the Sioux
Falls city tennis instruction program at McKennan Park.
The lifetime sport quickly caught his interest (as golf
would, too, later) as another exercise opportunity and
diversion from the restaurant demands of Minerva’s.
Volin, a certified tennis instructor who also knows
how to handle a fork, offered some tennis lessons to
Thompson in exchange for some cooking lessons. Before
Dave knew it, Volin, a pioneer in helping recharge the
Sioux Falls Tennis Association in the early 1980’s, had
a chief sponsor through Dave and Minerva’s in promoting
"tennis fun nights" at the park. Most tennis players
have "won" a Minerva’s certificate of some sort over the
"Our main thing in those years," said Dave, "was to
involve a lot of people in tennis through light
competition and to have fun."
"Since then," said Volin, "I don’t think Dave has
ever said ‘no’ to tennis. And his custom brunches at
McKennan Park at the SD Open really add to our Hall of
Fame induction ceremonies. Always tasty, classy food—in
typical Minerva’s and Spezia fashion."
Dave and his wife Marion are constantly surrounded
with ball games of some sort, thanks to children Laura
(age 10), Lucas (8), and Landon (4), and in earlier
years with Christa (26) and Sara (23).
Dave’s business life is busy with partner Paul Van
Bockern, since they joined together in 1977 to open the
first Minerva’s in downtown Sioux Falls. Several
Minerva’s restaurants dot the Midwest, plus the Market
Diner, Baxter Cafe and Spezia in Sioux Falls. Dave still
does some cooking, but his main role is "to stay a step
ahead of what our customers want." His principal area is
employee development, menu research and development and
As far as his "lesson exchange" with Jamie Volin—the
tennis community figures Dave’s serve is no better or
worse than Volin’s crepes!