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Kurt Janowsky's converting Tilted Kilt to a farm-to-table spot

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May 07, 2014

Kurt Janowsky said he wants to open three new restaurants in 2014.

Artisan is one of them. The high-end spot will be at 505 S. Main St. in downtown Elkhart. Janowsky, who also owns Cafe Navarre, The Exchange and Matterhorn and oversees the catering at Lerner Theater, had hoped to open it in June. He said it'll likely open in July instead, but could still host a patron party for the Elkhart Jazz Festival and perhaps another event before then.

The bigger news is that Janowsky is taking over the Granger location where Tilted Kilt has been operating, after it closes its doors May 31.

"We're going to go in there and do farm-to-table, as much as that's possible in our market," he said.

The new restaurant, Rocky River Tap & Table (1032 E. University Drive, Granger), will offer good quality and healthy food, he said. And it could open by late June.

The menu will feature perch, whitefish and trout from the Great Lakes and Gunthorp pork and chicken from LaGrange, as well as beef from within 60 miles.

"We'll chase the seasons," he said, noting as an example that tomatoes won't be served in February. "Hopefully there's enough good stuff available."

Planned offerings also include risotto fritters, shrimp potstickers and roasted cauliflower. Vegetarian and vegan items will be among them as well.

"We'll have a really, really good burger," he said. Rocky River's burger will have 25 percent pork, including trimmings from what's used to make bacon. "There's nothing better than pork fat," he said.

He's in the process of figuring out who will cook there, but it may include some of the staff from Tilted Kilt. He said he ate corned beef at six places on March 17 and the Kilt's version was the best.

In addition, he's adding Eamonn McParland to the culinary team. McParland has been a chef at LaSalle Grill and LaSalle Kitchen & Tavern. McParland is talented and Janowsky will figure out where and how to best use him.

Rocky River, named for a tributary of the St. Joseph River in Michigan, will be in a prime location for a farm-to-table restaurant. "That Granger market is a strong market," he said.

It'll be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.

In addition to Rocky River and Artisan, Janowsky is taking over O'Rourke's Public House in University Commons across from the University of Notre Dame. An out-of-town owner was looking for a partner and found Janowsky. The former Kildare's is a busy restaurant, but needed someone who could manage it locally, he said.

He plans to improve the food and service. "That'll happen yet this summer," he said.

Janowsky could sit back and operate the spots he has. But he wants to do more. And his success means that opportunities are coming his way.

He's looking at what may come after that. I predict he'll open a spot in Goshen, but it won't be until 2015.

Marshall V. King is managing editor and food columnist for The Elkhart Truth. You can reach him at 574-296-5805, mking@etruth.com, on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
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