BY LEE ANN SANDWEISS
Shaken or stirred, the martini is the signature libation at the Bloomington nightspot, Serendipity Martini Bar.
“Ninety percent of the drinks we serve are martinis,” says owner Tariq Khan. “People come in thinking they’re going to have wine, but once they have one of our martinis, that’s what they want.”
Khan credits bar manager Mike Oransky with the popularity of Serendipity’s extensive martini menu, which includes such creative concoctions as Dark Chocolate and Green Tea martinis. “Mike’s training the bartenders to make them like he does. Of course, if someone is drinking martinis, they’re going to want to have some food, and we have a delicious tapas menu, too.”
Khan donned overalls and worked alongside the construction crew to transform the Art Deco landmark building at 201 S. College from a structure in serious need of TLC into an entertainment showplace. Once the unglamorous aspects of the renovation—all new plumbing and electrical systems—were completed, the cosmetic work on the upper level began. Original wood paneling and glass block windows were restored, with new construction meticulously complementing preexisting features. From the rich color scheme to the leather club chairs and sofas in the semiprivate front rooms, the interior décor exudes casual elegance.
Khan points to the deep, warm red walls of the front lounge, which can be reserved for private gatherings, and notes that they were painted three times to arrive at the perfect shade of red. “My fiancée, Tammy [Schoch], oversaw the interior decoration—she really has an eye for it. I couldn’t have done this without her.”
Serendipity, which opened in September 2010, is positioned to fill a niche in Bloomington’s restaurant and bar scene, says Khan. He anticipates that it will be popular with patrons seeking a place with upscale ambience and a sophisticated menu, but also a relaxed, clubby vibe.
“Everyone who has come in has had a great time—from grad students to the huge span of the baby boomers. People tend to have outgrown the hangouts they loved when they were in college and want something more in sync with their current lifestyle,” says Khan. “We’re not competing with anyone—nobody’s doing what we’re doing.”
Serendipity is open 5 pm to midnight Monday through Thursday; 5 pm to 1 am Friday and Saturday.