Six weeks from today, a wedding is scheduled at the former Columbus Club building in downtown Mishawaka. That’s a bit hard to imagine right now as the building is in the middle of an extensive renovation with ripped up tile, wiring and other construction materials strewn about.
“I met with (the couple) and, if I were the bride, I would’ve walked in and been really scared,” said Jeff Morauski, co-owner of South Bend restaurants Chicory Cafe and Taphouse on the Edge. “But she was fantastic and (will be) getting married in this space. That is a lot of trust.”
By the wedding day on May 26, Morauski assured at least the banquet room portion will be transformed. He and his business partners purchased the building at 114 W. First St. on April 9, kicking off the group’s banquet venue venture called Chicory Event Center. They will also add a second Chicory Cafe location inside the building. The day after the ink on the contract dried, construction was underway.
The building abuts the ongoing development at Beutter Park along the St. Joseph River. The site is planned to be home to new retail stores, restaurants and apartments. That development excited Morauski and his business partners when they were looking for a new venue space.
“Once we had heard of all (the development in downtown Mishawaka) we were like ‘wow,’” Morauski said. “We were really looking for a banquet hall because catering has been a really big thing for us. We do a lot of off-site catering already and we are looking for a place to host.”
Morauski and his business partner Phil Schreiber were looking for venue options for about a year when they were connected by the Mishawaka Knights of Columbus, who operates the Columbus Club. The duo wanted to offer a “mid-level” price point venue for weddings and events and the building was what they were looking for. Members of the Mishawaka Knights of Columbus did not respond to interview requests from The Tribune, but Morauski said the group was helpful through the five-month negotiation.
“The Knights were really kind to us,” Morauski said. “They gave us keys a couple months beforehand and we catered a couple of events here already, so we were comfortable with the space.”
The building can hold about 275 guests in the banquet room. There are also plans for a bride and groom suite and a private room. The northern portion of the building will be transformed into the second Chicory Cafe and will mirror the New Orleans-themed downtown South Bend location at 105 E. Jefferson Blvd. It will offer the same menu, coffee and aesthetic. Even the furniture will be similar, Morauski said. The cafe will be able to seat about 70 customers with additional seating outdoors on a planned patio facing the river to be completed by June.
Being a part of the downtown Mishawaka scene excites Morauski and his partners because they said they foresee a lot of development similar to what is happening with downtown South Bend. There, Morauski said, local restaurants have a communal feel where everyone is in it together. He hopes to bring that feel to Mishawaka as well.
“So many people, when they think of Mishawaka, they think of Main Street and Grape Road and not so much of this (downtown) area, but it could be just as vibrant.” Morauski said. “We want more restaurants to go into this area and help each other grow.”
Have you heard?
Mishawaka will be getting a Dunkin’ Donuts on Grape Road this fall. The national doughnut and coffee chain will open on the south end of the Shoppes on Grape plaza at 5325 Grape Road, near the intersection of Grape and Douglas roads in Mishawaka. Sources said construction is expected to begin in a month, with plans to open by August. … Toscana Pizza and Pasta has new owners and has moved locations. The business is now located at Coach’s Sports Bar and Grill at 2046 S Bend Ave in South Bend. The pizza portion is currently operating as a pop-up shop in the former family area of the restaurant and is offering carryout items. More details will be available in an upcoming Market Basket column. … Pizza Pie Hole has been renamed to Iggy’s Pizza Shop. The name was changed due to trademark issues. The new pizza place plans to open next week at its location in Granger. … Family Video’s Portage Avenue store is closing. A manager at the 1615 Portage Ave. location said the store is consolidating with another Family Video at 51522 Indiana 933 near Auten Road. No closing date was given.