Entrepreneurs Tour Vacant Space for Restaurant Challenge

Published 07/28 2014 05:28PM

Updated 07/28 2014 05:36PM

The Main Course Restaurant Challenge Committee is looking at candidates to fill a void in downtown Evansville. The Committee is offering $250,000 to entrepreneurs with the right plan for a restaurant in the Old Roger's Jewlers building on Fourth and Main.

The building has been vacant for six years and it's no secret it needs some work. A couple candidates interested in opening their restaurant in the space were able to meet with the Director of the Downtown Alliance to discuss costs and construction options.

The location is prime. "I think people see the opportunity in the building. It's unusual to get 5,200 square feet in a historic area that's unimpeded." Director of the Downtown Alliance Joshua Armstrong says the pot is about to get much sweeter with the addition of the IU Medical School and the downtown convention center hotel. "It's a great time to be downtown. There's a lot of things that are just about to really take off."

Candidates get their first look under the hood as they construct a business plan to submit to the Main Course Restaurant Challenge Committee and for those new to the business it could be a daunting task. "We've always thought that it would a savvy experienced operator that goes into the building. It's a bit of a challenge if this was your first restaurant," said Armstrong.

Experience may be a plus, but Armstrong chain restaurants are not being looked at as a serious option. "We're looking for an independent. We want that feeling of something that you can only get in Evansville and something that's just unique to us."
Opening a new restaurant is part of the city's efforts to give a facelift to downtown. Armstrong says the candidates will be judged more so on the type of ambience it brings to downtown as opposed to the type of food. "We don't have a model of a type of cuisine we want. We want it to be fresh, we want it to be fun, we want it to be festive. We want people to feel when they walk in there that they've made a great choice about where they're going to eat their meal," said Armstrong.

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