Now that the snow is nearly gone, restaurants are popping up.
The worst months to be in the restaurant business are January and February. And as spring settles in, a couple places are about ready to open and a couple more will be ready by summer.
Cubby Bear Pizza in the former State Theater on Elkhart's Main Street will have a new look and a new concept for downtown Elkhart.
Owner Steve Hill said he and his brother, Frank, should be ready for business by late May or early June. The hearing with the local board of the Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission to approve the license is May 15.
When he announced the restaurant, Steve said it'd be like Shakey's, which was a beloved spot for many Elkhartans in the 1960s to 1980s.
Anyone who makes people feel like Shakey's did in this more modern era will have plenty of business. I hope the Hills do it.
They brought in Joe Eppers, former owner of Shakey's, to get a few pointers.
Inside the big building, the bar has been enclosed, cleaning is underway and televisions are being installed. Steve Hill has ideas about how to use the space that was a small banquet room to the south and the patio out back.
The basement could become a full banquet room available for birthday parties and so on, he said.
In the family dining area, you'll go up and order and they'll call your name when the food is done, he said. In the bar, there will be wait staff.
Having a family-friendly restaurant with lots of space could be great for downtown Elkhart.
In Middlebury, three places along Main Street are in the process of changing.
The Ice Box, which offered ice cream and Mancino's pizza and sandwiches, closed on March 18. It'll reopen soon as Northridge Pizzeria, according to DiAnna Peffley, who is taking over.
Paul Heinrich was a Mancino's franchisee for 20 years. He can't legally be associated with the business at 422 S. Main St., Middlebury, so Heinrich is leasing the building and equipment to Peffley.
The new restaurant will have the same hours and many of the same offerings, but won't be a Mancino's and will have a larger menu, she said.
Hours will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 to 10 Friday and Saturday. It'll have dine-in, carry-out and delivery she said. Phone: 574-825-2565
On the north side of town, the former pizza place at 426-2 N. Main St. could open within two weeks, according to owner Valoria Brett. She's purchasing the business from Terry Patten, who operated Terry's Pizza and Sub.
Another operator had the business for about four months, said Brett, who took over the end of January.
"It just seemed like a good opportunity," she said, noting they're hoping to sell a lot of sub sandwiches and pizza.
The interior has gotten some fresh paint and she's excited to open.
Hours will be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. Dine-in, carry-out and delivery will be available. Phone: 574-825-7499
There's less information available about what will happen at the former Winner's Circle bar at 104 S. Main St. The longtime bar changed hands in January.
I haven't been able to talk to the new owners yet and they haven't submitted plans to the Elkhart County Health Department, according to Mike Hoover.
Demolition is underway and a sign on the door says what's happening inside is top secret. But people around town are talking about the former saloon, which could be a restaurant or a bar.
Since Shipshewana is a dry town, I expect a place in downtown Middlebury could do very well if it's run right and is able to attract both locals and tourists.
That's the news for this week. If you have news to share or a question, feel free to contact me. And if you want to hang out, you should come along with us to Traverse City in October on the next Dining A La King trip with Edgerton's Travel Service.
I'm hungry. Let's eat.
Marshall V. King is managing editor and food columnist for The Elkhart Truth. You can reach him at 574-296-5805, email@example.com, on Twitter