If you had asked two months ago what restaurants were opening in Elkhart County, I could have named a few, but suddenly, there's a flurry.
And that's not to be confused with a Blizzard or anything that happened this winter.
The Chief and Eddy & Rosy's Ice Cream Shop have opened in recent days.
Cubby Bear Pizza in Elkhart is getting ready to open in a month or more.
Elkhart County's first Indian restaurant could open this summer along Main Street in Goshen.
Golden Egg Pancake House is relocating from the north side of Elkhart to the west side and it is scheduled to open Monday, April 28.
And last but not least, Goshen is likely getting a Thai restaurant on the southeast side.
That's a lot to chew on. Let's break it down.
The biggest restaurant news of last week was the word on Maple Indian Cuisine opening at 127 S. Main St., Goshen.
The former Il Forno/Noodle Heads will become an Indian restaurant with a lunch buffet and menu for lunch and dinner, according to Bobby Singh. He has operated Lane's 66 gas station across from Goshen Middle School for the last four years. And he's been looking for a place to open such a restaurant, but said he couldn't find the right one.
"We want to bring the flavors of India to Goshen," he said. He already has an Indian restaurant in Springfield, Ill., he said.
Singh said he has shared his food with friends and gotten a great response. His gas station customers are often talking about food and what they want. After Noodle Heads closed, Elkhart Truth readers indicated they wanted an Indian place. Michael Sherer of Goshen has had a Facebook page for three years called "Indian Restaurant for Goshen." It has more than 549 fans and Sherer pointed out that it's not often a fan page precedes a restaurant by three years.
Dave Pottinger believes the restaurant will do well. He said he told Singh, "If your food is good, that Indian ethnic food will fly in Goshen."
The Chief opened for its 52nd year at 502 W. Lincoln Ave., Goshen. Reporter Angelle Barbazon documented the preparation, the lines and the customer response.
The ice cream stand carries 16 flavors and the tweak for this summer is a new cup size for sundaes, the Chief mini.
“Everybody’s being a little more health conscious, but they still want ice cream,” owner Vanessa Steffen said. “A lot of places have cake pops, which is just a bite, so this is what we’re doing. Lately we’ve had a lot of adults ask for the kid’s size cups and cones. That way, they’re getting a small portion of ice cream, but they’re still getting it.”
Steffen said The Chief’s signature ice cream, homemade in an antique machine, keeps customers coming back for more, but that’s not all.
“We’re kind of old school,” she told Barbazon. “We don’t use calculators or cash registers. The kids add everything up on a piece of paper. It’s a big social hangout. People will meet standing in line, see friends and talk. If you come on a Saturday or a Sunday afternoon with nice weather, the back is packed with people. Some people have even started bringing their own blankets and lawn chairs."
The Chief's regular hours after its first day are from noon to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 2 to 9:30 p.m. on Sundays.
I got my first taste of the summer on the second day. I ordered my standard: a turtle sundae with cafe mocha ice cream. I didn't order a mini, but did get a small.
Eddy & Rosy's Ice Cream Shop didn't have the same lines as The Chief, but the historic stand at 917 W. Beardsley, Elkhart, opened April 12. Siblings Eddy and Rosy Lopez remodeled the stand and opened in August. It was shuttered for the winter and is back serving soft-serve, sandwiches and other items, including tacos and quesadillas.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday, noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Golden Egg Pancake House has a ton of fans from its 10 years on the north side of Elkhart. The Fotopoulos closed that location in March and spent four weeks rehabbing a former Rax restaurant on the west side of Elkhart at 305 N. Nappanee St.
I got a look on Friday and liked what I saw. And I expect it'll be busy. Readers have been asking about it.
It will open bright and early Monday morning with its large breakfast and lunch menu.
"We're gonna be good," said a tired George Fotopoulos early Friday morning, the day after the Elkhart County Health Department issued the license. "We're gonna be good."
The former Rax restaurant was most recently Shekinah Asian Grocery and Deli. It closed and the new owners took over.
They've been cleaning and remodeling the last month. "Four weeks of blood, sweat and tears," said Fotopoulos.
The beloved breakfast spot was on the north side of Elkhart near the Indiana Toll Road since it opened on Oct. 9, 2003. The family had previously opened George's Gyros in Elkhart on May 9, 1996, and continues to operate that.
The new restaurant looks smaller than the previous one, but isn't that much smaller, he said. It has 14 fewer seats, but a huge kitchen.
Hours are 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Fotopoulos said.
"We're stoked," he said.
Getting Cubby Bear Pizza open will take some time yet, but the work that's being done is impressive.
When Steve and Frank Hill purchased the former Mad Anthony's Old State Ale House, they cleaned the place.
Now that remodeling is nearly done on the main floor, cleaning is underway again. It'll open as Cubby Bear Pizza, 526 S. Main St., in May, if all goes as planned.
The tables and wall hangings are the same. The mural on the front is gone and now has a projection screen. The bar has walls around it.
The idea is to offer video games, televisions and food that would remind people of the old Shakey's experience in Elkhart.
Work isn't done in the basement, but a 1,600-square-foot space that once had the movie theater's concession area will become a banquet area for a variety of gatherings. That room is just plain cool and I expect it'll be well utilized.
Steve Hill said their hearing for the liquor license is mid-May and the place will open sometime after that's approved.
And I'm pretty excited the prospect of a new Thai restaurant in Goshen. The former Golden Monkey location at 1301 Lincolnway East, Goshen, has a sign declaring that the next restaurant will be Sawadee and offer Thai cuisine. Work is going on inside. The owner hasn't yet been available, but work is underway and a sign also indicates the restaurant is hiring.
Memories of China at Linway Plaza, Goshen, offers some Thai food. Constant Spring, 219 S. Main St., Goshen, has a pad Thai salad and occasional specials. But a full-fledged Thai restaurant would be new for Goshen.
This is all pretty exciting stuff. New locations for beloved restaurants and more ice cream and ethnic food are all good things. And as I've said before, if the Hill brothers can recreate a Shakey's experience, it'll gain a following downtown. I'm more and more hopeful they'll do it.
Last but not least, please consider coming along on the Foodie Tour to northern Michigan on Oct. 19-21. If you have questions, feel free to contact me or Edgerton's Travel Service, but the bus trip to Traverse City has a great itinerary and some great people have already signed up to come along.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. For the latest in food news in northern Indiana, go to Flavor574.com.