Cam Snyder has been tromping across northern Indiana, picking old barn doors and siding for the new Chubby Trout.
Snyder purchased the former D’Antini/Golden Egg restaurant at 3421 Plaza Court on Elkhart’s north side. The current Chubby Trout near the corner of C.R 6 and Cassopolis Street remains open until the new location is done, but Snyder is eager to move to the building he owns that has the feel of an old barn.
It had been a horse barn built between the 1920s and 1950s when the Dandino family purchased it in the early 1980s. There were just a couple hotels nearby for those entering Elkhart from exit 92 of the Indiana Toll Road. Now there are about 20 with more being planned, Snyder said.
The Dandinos turned it into a fine dining restaurant and then George Fotopolous turned it into the Golden Egg Pancake House. After he moved his restaurant, Snyder purchased the building and is remodeling it using wood from multiple barns.
The opening of the new Chubby Trout location is a few months away, but the way it’s taking shape is beautiful.
“We don’t really have a plan. We’re seeing what we’ve got and running with it,” Snyder said.
Brad Sissom of Sissom Construction has been cutting oak barn siding for the walls. Grey siding cut to fit as the wall covering and the window frames came from a barn on C.R. 9 that Snyder had a weekend to salvage and an Amish construction crew got it done. Another barn in Auburn built in the 1800s had a 60-foot beam and another barn in LaGrange also became a source.
Beams are becoming bar tops. A stack of barn doors Snyder got for $50 is becoming the tabletops for part of the restaurant.
The bar will seat 50 people. A front dining room and a back dining room that can be used for private parties will seat that number as well.
The new kitchen is the same size of the dining room of the current Chubby Trout, which seats 100, he said.
The barn’s hayloft in the dining room could eventually be used as event space, but for now a large piece of glass in the ceiling will let in external light and offer a view of the rafters for some diners.
“I’ve got to figure out how to feed 150 people first,” Snyder said of any additional plans for the new location. Eighty percent of the menu will be the same as the current location, which features fish, sushi and other entrees, but the new Chubby will have smoked meats.
Snyder is brewing at Mountain Town Brewing Co. in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., and three of the results are already on tap at Chubby Trout. Fat Hop Barley Pop, Sandbar Ale and Lake Day IPA are all light, refreshing beers.
Chubby Trout is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday, and from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday.