MISHAWAKA, Ind. — George Pesek has wanted to own the historic Carnegie Library in downtown Mishawaka for a few years. Every time he drove by the building, he says, he was inspired by its character and knew he could do something great with it.
Now after about five years of waiting, Pesek got his wish and will be turning the 100-year-old building into his newest restaurant and banquet hall venture. Pesek also owns Evil Czech Brewery on Main Street in Mishawaka and Corndance Tavern on Grape Road.
Pesek will be utilizing the Carnegie space for two separate businesses. The most exciting of the two will be his new restaurant Jesús Latin Grill. Being a Latin restaurant, the name is pronounced HEH-soos, and will draw inspiration from South American cuisine and culture.
“I have a huge passion for Latin food,” he says.
There’s not much detail to share just yet on the menu because the entire project is still in the early stages. The building was a private residence for several years and the deal closed recently.
Pesek already has a lot of ideas for Jesús Latin Grill. The decor will be vibrant and colorful, pulling inspiration from Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Because the building is built into a hill, the main entrance will be what is currently the back of the building, allowing easy access to the lower level.
There will be outdoor seating for about 40 to 50 people and Pesek estimates the restaurant’s total seating could be about 150. Parking will also be added in the empty lot behind the former library.
And, of course, there will be a bar focused on tequila and mezcal. Pesek says there is a list of more than 400 types of tequila and mezcal he wants to serve.
The really exciting part on the bar side, though, is the cold tasting experience Pesek hopes to offer. Cold tasting is widely used for trying vodka, and Pesek wants to have a freezer tasting room.
The cold temperature, usually set around minus 25 Fahrenheit, slows down alcohol molecules, changing the way a spirit tastes. Pesek says patrons can try tequila at room temperature and then in the cold room, with thick coats provided, to taste the differences. Tasting at a colder temp makes it easier to distinguish between finer quality spirits, he says.
And Pesek wants Jesús Latin Grill to be a neighborhood space. Because Mishawaka is doing so much to make the river walk area a focal point for the community, he says, he wants to have an affordable place everyone can enjoy.
“We want to appeal to the masses,” he says.
With Jesús Latin Grill taking up the lower level of the library, the main floor will be renovated into a banquet hall. There will be separate kitchens for each space, and the banquet hall will use the building’s main entrance in the front.
While the downstairs is where Pesek is really getting creative, the banquet hall will showcase the space’s original aesthetic. When the building was renovated into a home, the owners put up a lot of drywall. On both floors all of that will be gutted to open the spaces up.
Pesek estimates the hall could seat about 120 to 130 people, but those numbers could change as work continues. The offered menus for events will also draw from all of Pesek’s restaurants. If a less expensive option is wanted, a party can have a more Evil Czech or Jesús menu. If something more upscale is asked for, they can pull more from the Corndance menu.
Pesek hopes to have both businesses open this spring.
Renovating a historical building may present some challenges, but Pesek says he wants to bring back as much of the history as possible. Built in 1916, the Mishawaka Carnegie Library was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.
There will not be a lot of restrictions on what Pesek does to the inside, he says. He will be highly restricted on the outside, but that’s not a problem for Pesek. It’s the entire reason he wanted the building.
“I always thought it was a gem,” he says. “It’s very much a treasure.”
Source: South Bend Tribune, http://bit.ly/2c7U9nh
Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com
This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by the South Bend Tribune.