ELKHART -- Sauk Trail Bar & Grille is crossing the state line to merge with another restaurant.
Marc Lancaster, owner of the popular Union restaurant, announced Thursday that he's planning to move his smoker to Indigo on 17.
Lancaster said he'll work with Ray Stults, Lindsey Stults and Dan Vahala on the new venture, which will be near the intersection of C.R. 14 and C.R. 17.
Sauk Trail's location in Union burned on July 27. The fire was ruled arson and the case hasn't been solved, Lancaster said. A $12,500 reward is being offered for a tip that results in a conviction.
Lancaster said he's been talking with Indigo's owners for several months. The partnership will result in a new name, changed menu and some changes in the restaurant. The place may be called Sauk Trail on 17, he said.
Employees at Indigo on 17 were told late this week of the changes, which will take effect after Jan. 1. They were also given a copy of a press release Lancaster sent to local media, an employee said.
The restaurant will close and reopen after changes are made, including the installation of a smoker, said Lancaster. He's hoping to reopen in February.
Lindsey Stults did not return calls seeking comment, but said in the press release that the ambiance and menu items Indigo on 17 customers have enjoyed won't change. Indigo on 17 opened in 2007 as a fine dining restaurant, but over time expanded its focus to be more inviting to families and an upscale bar crowd.
Sauk Trail opened in 2006 and gained acclaim for its smoked foods in the small bar along U.S. 12. About 75 percent of Sauk Trail's clientele in Union was from the Elkhart area, Lancaster said.
The new venture will have steaks, salads and the smoked meats, including salmon, that attracted fans to Sauk Trail. "It's not going to be a hodge-podge of things. We're going to streamline some things," Lancaster said.
Lancaster, who will be the manager of the restaurant, said he hopes the new arrangement attracts a broad range of people to the location.