Kurt Janowsky is hot.
He's been hot for a while in the local restaurant scene.
He's opening what would technically be his fourth place in mid-July. It'll be called The Exchange and will feature whiskey.
He said clear spirits such as vodka and all its flavors have gotten a lot of attention the last couple years. And he's wanting to shower some love - and serve - on brown liquor.
Janowsky has been in the restaurant business since he was a teenager. He's owned the Ice House, The Emporium, Doc Pierce's, Baxter's Food and Spirits, and The Matterhorn. He's had the catering contract at the Lerner Theatre for the last two years since it reopened. And in early 2012, he opened Cafe Navarre in South Bend. It's been acclaimed and busy from the start.
Since then, Janowsky's getting plenty of offers from people wanting to partner with him on the next thing. And he's got ideas about how to make some new things happen.
In the former Wells Fargo building at 112 W. Jefferson, South Bend, he'll serve whiskey and a limited menu of food from the nearby Cafe Navarre. There will likely be some charcuterie and cheese alongside the whiskeys.
As for that, he's working with Lincoln Henderson at Angel's Envy to create a custom-blended, signature bourbon. Janowsky oversaw the blending of whiskey from three different barrel types for three different lengths of time. "It'll be as good a bourbon as you have anywhere," he said.
You can see a photo of Janowsky in the new space in Heidi Prescott's South Bend Tribune column.
Janowsky is opening another place in South Bend. I doubt at this point Elkhart could support a whiskey bar, but Janowsky has told me he continues to think about what else he can do in downtown Elkhart. He lives here and loves it here. He's co-chairman of the Elkhart Jazz Festival this weekend. He's a huge supporter of CAPS and he and his wife, Ellen, helped raise a lot of money for CAPS on Friday, June 14. Aside from his restaurant work, he's been honored recently with several community awards.
He helps people eat better. He helps the community. And it's fun to see him start another venture. I doubt he's done.