In 30 years, Jim Zortman has seen a lot of change not just in his business ventures, but in North Sioux City as well. As of Nov. 1, 1990, Zortman and his partner at the time Mark Avery opened Pronto Convenience Store in the same location as the current Zort’s Prime Time Restaurant and Casino.
Pronto, a franchise of Amoco, featured two gasoline pumps, convenience store with a wide variety of groceries and snack items, a separate room used as a deli and two video lottery rooms. In 1994, the business added another two pumps. This was due to several other convenience stores popping up in the area and because Pronto was closed while River Drive was under construction.
In April 1999, Avery was no longer partners with Zortman and Jim Brown came in as another partner. In 2006, Zortman bought out Brown’s shares and went on his own. The best time for the convenience store was during the years of Gateway. However, as time grew on, many other convenience stores were popping up around Pronto.
“The fuel business was good when Gateway was here and video lottery was really, really good,” Zortman said. “It was fun. It was really different back then, the environment was really exciting. There were a lot of people making really good money and things were really good.”
Another hardship happened when Gateway closed and was followed up with the smoking ban in public areas passed in South Dakota. Zortman said the video lottery business went downhill as all their customers who smoked went to Iowa to the riverboat where they could smoke.
2011 was a big year for Zortman. Not only was his home, like many others, affected by the river flooding in the area, especially Dakota Dunes, but he decided to switch business avenues – Zort’s Prime Time. Having owned a couple restaurants before, Zortman said he had told his wife he would never do one again. But yet he went for it.
See full story in this week’s Dakota Dunes / North Sioux City Times.