Keep it small. Keep it simple.
Those were the words handed down by local restaurateur Kurt Janowsky to Ranee Robinson, co-owner of Krāv in downtown Elkhart, as she prepared to run her first eatery.
“He really turned out to be that business mentor on my hip if I needed to ask a question,” Robinson said.
After taking over the space at 526 S. Main St. in November 2014, which most recently operated as Cubby Bear Pizza, Robinson knew she had to not only give the existing menu a facelift, but also change the perception of the business from a pizzeria to a dining destination.
- RELATED: Krāv replaces former Cubby Bear Pizza in Elkhart, opens stage to local performers, Jan. 17, 2015
“We struggle. Everybody we talk to (says), ‘We didn’t know you guys were open. We didn’t know it was family dining. We thought it was a nightclub,’” Robinson said.
But Robinson, her husband Michael, and co-owners Michele and Ken Brown are ready to reintroduce themselves.
“Now, we’re coming to a point where it’s no longer a down-sized, inherited menu,” Robinson said.
11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m Sunday, June 21
Biscuits and gravy, seasoned roasted potatoes, a chicken and waffle bar, ham and fresh fruit.
$15 for adults, $10 for children 10 and younger.
Krāv’s new executive chef Thomas Friesner is “ready to be creative and really jump into a setting that he can call his own kitchen,” according to Robinson.
Items like jerk chicken, a French dip sub and chicken Parmesan will join the familiar pizza and wings on the menu. Robinson said multiple vegetarian and gluten-free options will also be included when the full menu is revealed Monday, June 22.
Another new dining option being unveiled June 22 is the Chef’s Table experience, available by reservation only. Each guest chooses a protein, carbohydrate and vegetable, and the chef creates a customized meal based on those preferences.
The experience encourages interaction between Friesner and diners, as the chef greets each guest and take notes on their preferred flavor profiles.
“It won’t be something off the menu. He’ll go back to kitchen, look at what you’ve chosen and make you your own private meal,” Robinson said. “It’s a very intimate way to dine, for both you and the chef.”
The Chef’s Table choices will vary seasonally, and a standard fee (to be determined) will be charged for the experience.
For patrons interested in sampling the new food offerings, Krāv will feature a limited preview menu beginning Friday, June 19, with items like beer and bacon mac and cheese, a Cuban sandwich, revamped burger options and new appetizers. A pared down late-night menu will also be available after 11 p.m. during the Elkhart Jazz Festival.
- RELATED: Elkhart Jazz Festival 2015: Downtown restaurants extend hours, offer specials, June 11, 2015
“I kept saying, ‘We’ve got to get it right before Jazz Fest,’” Robinson said. “We’re just pulling off select items to give them a taste of what’s coming.”
In addition to the new menu, Krāv will also debut its frozen yogurt shop, Krāvings, during the Elkhart Jazz Festival weekend. It will reside in the storefront neighboring the restaurant, where Cubby Cone originally set up shop in August 2014.
So far, only chocolate and vanilla have been decided upon as standby flavors, but Robinson said she will add at least three more flavors and numerous mix-ins. Adult patrons will also be able to order dessert shooters using frozen yogurt and liqueurs to mimic popular cocktails like Sex on the Beach.
Robinson appears confident and eager to re-define her restaurant’s image as it joins the other dining spots lining Main Street in downtown Elkhart.
“We are excited to really step forward and be part of this food scene and do something fun and interesting,” Robinson said.