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Artisan could become a reality in a few weeks

Elkhart County’s newest fine dining restaurant is nearly ready.

Artisan will open sometime in mid-November, according to owner Kurt Janowsky. It’s going into a space with a lot of history and the renovation is blending the old and new.

The building at 505 S. Main St. was the home of Flytrap’s from soon after World War II until 2007. For a few years, it was a Swiss restaurant before closing. Janowsky cut the deal to get it back open with a place Elkhart hasn’t seen before.

The exposed brick that may be able to tell the stories of poker games and great meals at Flytrap’s is still there, but the former dining room will be a private dining room for parties. The old Flytrap’s bar was removed years ago. The room could hold up to 100 and another 16 could go on the balcony where the card games used to happen.

The southern room will be a dining room that seats about 60 at seven booths and several tables.

“It can’t be big to do what we’re going to do,” he said during a recent tour as workers put in carpet, glass and other finishing touches.

Chef Matthew Jay has worked for Janowsky at Matterhorn, Cafe Navarre and helped at Rocky River. He’ll oversee a kitchen that will produce meals made from start to finish as they’re ordered.

Near the open kitchen is a copper bar and a seating area for a few customers. It’ll open at 4:30 and the dining room at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, but it’s most likely that Artisan will feed people who have gotten reservations.

“I’ll be surprised if it’s a drop-in kind of place,” Janowsky said.

The changing menu will feature fresh seafood and game, as well as prime beef and organic, free-range poultry.

The menu will have about 10 small plates at $10 to $18 and about 10 entrees at $20 to $40, but the best part will be the multi-course tasting menus with wine pairings, Janowsky said. Few, if any, other restaurants in northern Indiana are offering tasting menus.

Some have questioned whether Elkhart and Elkhart County can support a high-end restaurant.

“I believe there’s a market,” Janowsky said.

Every night, customers from Elkhart County eat at Cafe Navarre, he said. He said it’s disrespectful of this community to say it can’t do something nice. He expects customers will come from Michigan and Syracuse to dine at Artisan.

“As long as every experience is excellent, we’ll be successful,” he said.

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