ELKHART — Four pop-up restaurants got their first taste of the Elkhart Jazz Festival on Friday, and it was delicious.
Festivalgoers packed the streets of downtown, and not many left hungry. A handful of eateries with familiar names debuted on Main Street on Friday afternoon. Four restaurants temporarily set up shop on the festival’s main drag with special menus featuring everything from Cajun gumbo to spicy Mexican dishes.
South Bend’s Cafe Navarre landed a spot in front of the Lerner Theatre. The restaurant crafted a special New Orleans-inspired menu starring muffalettas, jambalaya and fresh summer salads.
“Last year, we saw that there was a lot of fair food at the festival, so we wanted to offer something different,” said Nicole Joldersma, who manages the theater’s Crystal Ballroom and lended a hand at Cafe Navarre’s pop-up restaurant. “We wanted something that would be fast to serve but in a restaurant-like setting.”
Friday brought back memories for Kathy Lucchese. She and her husband ran Lucchese’s Italian Restaurant on Jackson Street for 25 years before moving to the location on C.R. 17 in 2007. The restaurant popped up at the former Flytrap’s building, and the first customer was a musician from the Elkhart Municipal Band, Lucchese said.
“It’s been wonderful,” she said.
Lucchese’s menu was specially prepared for the festival, chef Zach Lucchese said. The restaurant featured Mediterranean meatballs, pork belly, chicken linguine and more.
“People seem to be really happy with the food,” he said.
Food vendors lined the Civic Plaza near the bandstand on Main Street selling sirloin tips, funnel cakes, soft pretzels, burritos and cheese fries.
ModMex opened for lunch Friday, and the most popular menu items proved to be beef and chicken machaca. Jose Rios, who owns ModMex with his father, said the biggest challenge was that the building is about a third of the size of his restaurant on Toledo Road. But all in all, Rios was excited about the weekend venture.
“I like the feel of downtown,” he said.
By 8:30 p.m., Adam’s Bistro had served close to 200 of the eatery’s signature sweet magnolia sausages. The bistro was set up in the grassy area next to the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce office.
“The weather was beautiful today,” chef Adam Williams said. “I’m expecting an even bigger crowd on Saturday.”
WHERE ARE THE POP-UP RESTAURANTS?
Adam’s Bistro: Next to the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce office, 418 S. Main St.
Cafe Navarre: In front of the Lerner Theatre, 410 S. Main St.
Lucchese’s Italian Restaurant: 505 S. Main St.
ModMex: 205 S. Main St.