A restaurant truly ‘worth it’

A restaurant truly ‘worth it’

Artisan of Elkhart, IN
Artisan of Elkhart, IN takes contemporary French fine-dining to a whole other level.

Chef Kurt Janowsky’s ultimate aspiration was to craft an experience so extraordinary that every guest departed his establishment with a resounding sense of fulfillment, echoing the sentiment, “It was truly worth it.”

“We aim to transform a bad day into a good one and elevate a good day into an unforgettable memory,” says Ryne Wright, General Manager of Artisan in Elkhart, IN.

This vision propelled Chef Janowsky, the visionary behind Navarre Hospitality Group, and his investors, to breathe new life into Elkhart’s fine dining landscape. Their journey led them to reimagine a 109-year-old building, formerly home to Flytraps from 1940 to 2007, into a culinary haven.

In this week’s Q&A with Boxerbrand blog Recipe for Success, Wright offers a glimpse into the journey bringing contemporary French fine dining to Indiana.

Boxerbrand: What about Elkhart was ripe for a fresh concept?

Wright: Kurt Janowsky and his lifelong friends and investors are all from this area. Kurt has had great success with his concept Café Navarre’s, and Exchange whiskey bar in South Bend, which is 15 miles away.

Since Flytraps closed in 2007, because the owners just wanted to get out of the business, Janowsky and his partners saw the opportunity to purchase a building which had housed the historic restaurant since 1940 and freshen up the space and experience.

Boxerbrand: How did Artisan get started?

Wright: Kurt Janowsky and his partners purchased the three-story building in 2014 and took a full year renovating it. Artisan restaurant is on the first two floors and the top floor is a glass-enclosed, private-dining space overlooking the larger restaurant.

The renovation improved the landscape of the interior space with a new layout of booths, but it preserved the warm details such as our interior brick wall and copper & plaster ceiling.

They also built two wine cellars on the first floor that are visible through the street-facing windows, while remaining protected from the damage of light.

Boxerbrand: What was the opportunity for fine-dining in Elkhart?

Wright: Before we opened in 2015 there really wasn’t any fine dining in Elkhart, not since Flytraps closed in 2007. Our neighboring concept, 523 Tap & Grill has maintained a successful hospitality concept and great atmosphere that our creators felt could help to anchor a higher standard in the general area. Before Artisan opened people looking for a modern French dining experience would travel to South Bend, Fort Wayne or anywhere into Michigan. Flytraps was a fine-dining Italian concept, and Artisan is very light French inspired.

After their success in South Bend, Kurt and his friends knew they could do this, and create something the area would really respond to.

Boxerbrand: How is intimate fine-dining experienced at Artisan?

Wright: From the moment you walk into our space, past our beautiful wine display, you are greeted by a host with a warmth that invites a discussion about the occasion that brings them to Artisan. Whether it’s an anniversary, an engagement or a business meeting, we aim to understand the context of the visit so we can tailor the experience.

For us, it’s not just dinner, it’s an experience. Our dining space is a smaller room that features crescent shaped booths along the wall, individual dining tables and a longer, communal table.

Boxerbrand: What do guests at Artisan find on the menu?

Wright: Our menu is a new-school French, which uses vinaigrette, citrus juices more than heavy cream sauces. It’s a very light cuisine to respond to the demand for lighter, healthier food.

Our chef presents exquisite platings and is always working on exceptional flavor profiles.

Boxerbrand: How did you make your career in hospitality?

Wright: I was a hardworking kid in high school and wanted to make good money. So I started working at our sister restaurant, Café Navarre busing tables. And I loved it! I love talking with and meeting new people, so, even though I went to college for accounting, I came back into hospitality after I got my degree. I’ve been GM at Artisan for two years and have been with the group for 10.

Boxerbrand: How does a passion for hospitality get translated into the experience for the guest?

Wright: When we opened, we did very little by way of advertising, and instead let the good word-of-mouth reputation of the other groups attract our guests. People who were already familiar with Navarre Hospitality looked at Artisan as a new, shiny toy in Elkhart, and were happy to come try us.

As word grew I think our team has done a good job living up to expectations by maintaining of continuity of caring, in intangible ways that our guests pick up on. Everyone who works here is here because they have a passion for restaurants and hospitality.

Artisan of Elkhart, IN uses Boxerbrand’s Classic Leather line in their table presentation. Thank you!

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