Corndance Tavern adding butcher counter, owners plan third restaurant
George Pesek has been toying with new restaurant concepts for a while, but he and wife Tammy decided to open one within Corndance Tavern and another in a former Carnegie Library in Mishawaka.
Bourbon & Butcher could open as soon as Oct. 8 in the bar and the former sunroom at the high-end Corndance Tavern, 4725 Grape Road, Mishawaka. That means adding lunch service to what has been a dinner-only restaurant. Bourbon & Butcher will have a butcher counter in the renovated room on the southeast corner of the building offering meats for retail or for preparation to eat there.
The butchering will be done in a 2,800-square-foot building the Peseks purchased behind the restaurant. All the meat for their restaurants will arrive there and be cut or turned into sausage. “We work with so many good farmers,” Pesek said. Grassfed beef comes from a farm in Bremen, the black Angus beef from a farm in Rochester, the pork from Jake’s Country Meats in Cassopolis, Mich. The Peseks raise the bison they sell in the restaurants.
Using meat from small farms is different than opening a box of meat from Colorado, so having a butcher who handles all the meat for the restaurants makes sense, Pesek said.
Since the customer response to the dry-aged beef offered at Corndance Tavern the last six months has been so strong, the Peseks decided to install a 4-by-8-foot room next to the bar. With about $25,000 in humidity and temperature regulation equipment, the room will have hunks of beef and allow Corndance to offer a unique customer loyalty program.
Pesek compared it to a mug club membership at the brewpub since customers will be able to purchase a portion of beef and then have steaks cut from it at the restaurant when it’s ready.
Dry aging is safe, but changes the flavor and texture of the meat over time. At 30 days, its flavor is more intense and by 65, it’s almost pungent, Pesek said.
Customers don’t seem to mind. Last Thursday, he cut 67 steaks aged in a converted refrigerator at the brewpub. Even though they cost $50 to $75 each, they were gone by early Saturday evening.
The “bourbon” in the name for the new part of Corndance Tavern will be a new emphasis on whiskey in the bar. The seven distillers on Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail will be featured, he said.
As for the new restaurant, the Peseks purchased the former Carnegie Library building at 122 Hill St. in downtown Mishawaka. He’s hoping it will be open by April or May 2017 as Jesús Latin Grill. It will have South American fare and a tequila bar. The upstairs will have a banquet room for up to 160 people, he said.
Chef Drew Sachau, who has been chef at Evil Czech Brewery, will become executive chef over all three places, Pesek said.