Enthusiasm and investment in downtown South Bend are visible from the East Bank of the
St. Joseph River to the center of the city.
Renovations are planned, under way or have been recently completed at a variety restaurants, bars, and other venues aimed at drawing more people, more often, to downtown. Here are the latest updates:
David Matthews, who purchased the Emporium Building at 121 S. Niles Ave. earlier this year, is planning a new breakfast bar in the atrium.
The venue will be called Smoothies, Crepes and Coffee and will offer these very items on its menu when it opens later this year near the corner of Niles and Jefferson Boulevard.
"We are fully committed to making the East Bank Village the hot spot for the region," says Matthews, who has focused his attention on the East Bank Village with the development of town houses and executive office space.
The Office at the Emporium Building is now under construction above the Emporium Restaurant. It comprises about 950 square feet of space that will contain movable desks, a lounge, kitchen, conference room, private suites, and, of course, a river view.
Dancehipology is also opening inside the building.
"Hopefully our buildings show the thought and heart we put into our designs and construction," Matthews says.
Closer to the heart of downtown, Jeremy Young is in the throes of an extensive restaurant renovation.
Young recently returned from a trip to NYC where he ordered furnishings and equipment for Woochi Japanese Fusion & Bar, located at 123 W. Washington St.Young, who also owns Zing Japanese Fusion in downtown Mishawaka, hopes to open this restaurant in September or October.
Another Japanese restaurant in Texas prompted him to change the name from Uchi to Woochi, which means "infinity" in Japanese. "We want to be the only one," Young says.
And if the "overflowing fish tanks" that will separate the restaurant dining rooms are any indication, Woochi will look nothing like the Buffalo Wild Wings that formerly occupied this space.
As much as we're looking forward to the unveiling of Woochi in a few months, the construction of a unique new whiskey bar is complete.
Peek through the windows and you will see
the upscale decor at The Exchange, 112 W. Jefferson Blvd., at the Citizen's Bank & Trust building.
Kurt Janowsky is just waiting on a liquor license to open his second downtown business. Janowsky also owns Café Navarre, 101 N. Michigan St. The Exchange will offer whiskey and bourbon as well as a limited food menu from Café Navarre.
Across the river, the owner of Barnaby's restaurant, 713 E. Jefferson Blvd., has been planning a renovation for some time. John Stratigos is hoping the project can get under way yet this year.
Stratigos hopes to add about 800 square feet to the north of the restaurant to use for additional kitchen, freezer, cooler and prep space. Barnaby's bathrooms will be completely renovated and "the front of the house will be refreshed, but the customer will not notice any major change in decor," he says.
After opening its local market at 123 N. Hill St., Purple Porch Co-op is now working toward adding a six-day-a-week grocery store and café on the East Bank.