by CRAIG COLEY
Most of the American Elm trees in the Elm Heights neighborhood are lost to disease, but one remains at the corner of East 2nd and South Fess streets, where its branches shade the patio of a new restaurant bearing its name. The Elm, scheduled to open in July, will offer a variety of options, from walk-up service to private dining rooms. “We want to be a gathering space that has a very high bar but very low barrier,” says General Manager Eric Daniels- Howell, a former manager at The Uptown Cafe. Daniels-Howell says the menu of the new restaurant will strive to be highly seasonal, featuring American classics through the lens of a Mediterranean and North African spice profile.
The restaurant’s location has a history as a community food resource. K&S Country Market occupied the corner until 2007, and Bloomingfoods rebuilt on the site for a store that operated from 2013 to 2016. David and Martha Moore, owners of Pictura Gallery and the FAR Center for Contemporary Arts, bought the building in 2017.
The Moores are remodeling the building with an eye for creating a variety of settings—from intimate two-person booths to bench seating near the full bar— as well as versatility.
David says the couple intends the new restaurant to combine Hoosier hospitality with visual and performing arts.
“There’s not a lot of live music in restaurants [in Bloomington],” he says. “I wanted to make the space flexible, maybe push the tables aside and have an evening of swing dance.”
The design is by Lauren Bordes of Malane Benedetto in Providence, Rhode Island—the same architect who designed the FAR Center, also a former grocery store.
The restaurant plans to open for dinner and walk-up café service initially, over time extending to breakfast and lunch and expanded grab-and-go offerings. At full capacity, including the patio, it will seat 230.