Vanguard Partnership: Sonja Gloria Pottery

Your dinner plate is anything but an afterthought at Vanguard Hospitality restaurants, thanks to a partnership with Sonja Gloria Pottery.

Artist Sonja Hernandez is working with the owners of Grille 26, Minervas in downtown Sioux Falls and Morrie’s Steakhouse to create customized pottery for signature restaurant dishes.

“We start out by describing what the item is going to be, the vision and the purpose behind it, and then we leave that space on the creative side for her to interpret what we’re going for,” said Tim Meagher, chief operating officer.

Hernandez tries “to be a little nontraditional because that’s more authentic to me,” she said. “I like whimsical, I like color, but I really have a place in my heart for high-quality functional craft.”

For Vanguard, working with Sonja Gloria Pottery is a natural extension of its other food-based partnerships with producers regionwide.

“For us, it was an opportunity to express ourselves more, to have everything from the table up touched by hand and to connect to someone in the community who is building their business,” Meagher said. “When we focus on building our relationships, we can create something great.”

What does that look like on the table? Hernandez recently designed and sculpted a plate specifically for the 100-layer lasagna at Morrie’s Steakhouse.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s really a dream come true. I love good food, I love farm to table, and to have my pottery in a business being used every day by people is perfect.”

We went inside the studio for a closer look at her work: