Elkhart Dining Days 2014: Restaurants reporting strong sales

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By: Marshall V. King
mking@flavor574.com

JEFF PARROTT/The Elkhart Truth

Elkhart Dining Days is heading toward a glorious finish.

A number of restaurants have reported strong business and plenty of people ordering the $10, $20 or $30 specials.

Ten percent of all the sales of the specials go to Food Bank of Elkhart County, which serves more than 45 food pantries and soup kitchens in Elkhart County.

A number of Flavor 574 staff members staff members have been out sampling dishes and blogging about the experience. I’ve now eaten at half a dozen restaurants and stopped in at that many more to chat. That’s still a small amount of the 23 that are in the mix.

So how’s it going?

Mike Miles reported that business has been strong at Miles Lab. There was a wait for tables on Tuesday night. “We never have a wait on Tuesdays,” he said. Lunch on Wednesday was strong as well.

Miles Lab has a $10 autumn cobb salad and a $20 mahi mahi special with pineapple sauce. Both are very good. The restaurant also is offering drink specials, including a Cable Car with Cody Road bourbon and mixers that make it taste like delicious lemonade.

In addition to the dining days specials on Saturday, there’s a tap takeover with at least eight Bell’s Brewing beers to be served.

Owner Brandon Stanley at New Paradigm Brewing Co. barely had time to chat Wednesday night other than to say they were out of the steak for two special. The bar was busy and he said business has been good all week.

Merle Anderson said it’s been “chaos” at both Pete’s Simonton Lake Tavern and Cappy’s. He meant that in a good way.

“Last night we sold 27 orders of frog legs,” he said Wednesday. Cappy’s had sold 17 orders of walleye.

Both places were offering specials that highlighted some of the best of what’s already on the menus.

At Pete’s, Anderson said he’d sold more than 200 specials in the first five days. (Elkhart Dining Days sold around 1,500 total the last two years.)

Chef Jamie Amador at 523 Tap & Grill said specials have been selling well. The chorizo-stuffed pork chop has been the top seller, followed by char grilled tuna and Korean chicken.

The restaurant has been busy and already has stopped taking reservations for Saturday night, when Buddy Guy is playing down the street at the Lerner Theater.

Iechyd Da owner Summer Lewis has been tracking progress by how many meals they’ve been able to pay for with sales.

If you can follow the math, the food bank provides up to eight meals for every dollar donated because of its buying power. One of the $30 specials for two buys 24 meals because of the 10 percent donation. A $10 special buys eight.

Through five of the eight days of business during Dining Days, customers had purchased more than 80 specials and 1,800 food bank meals.

 

Pork tenderloin and chicken wellington are selling at McCarthy’s on the Riverwalk. The choices are part of $30 dinner for two special. At lunch, a Cajun perch sandwich is $10

Terri Rohr, kitchen manager, said the restaurant has been busier than usual and people are buying the specials.

Plan ahead if you’re hoping to go out for the final days. Eat and help a good cause.

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