New restaurants, new food pairings and a closed chain store were all part of the Springfield food scene in 2019.
Three restaurants have been added to Fountain Avenue, a coffee shop and pizza restaurant are continuing to expand, and a pancake house closed.
Here are six restaurant stories the Springfield News-Sun followed in 2019:
Stella Bleu Bistro, Bubby’s Chicken & Waffles, and J&J’s Phat Head Foods have taken their unique food creations to Fountain Avenue.
A casual fine-dining restaurant, Stella Bleu Bistro, opened in June at 20 N. Fountain Ave.
The bistro’s owners are Shawn Osterholt and Darin Mitchell.
Osterholt is a local physician and investor, while Mitchell served as an executive chef at both the Urbana Country Club and Coco’s Bistro, in Dayton, in the years leading up to the two opening Stella Bleu.
The restaurant can seat as many as 85 customers in the main dining room, with a separate private dining space that can seat about 50. Additionally, the restaurant features an outdoor patio that seats an additional 75 to 100 customers.
Mitchell said most of the food in the restaurant is made in-house, including the ketchup and mustard.
“I love food, so do the guys that work for me,” Mitchell said. “So we love to have fun coming up with a menu and different options.”
The menus for both lunch and dinner feature a variety of dishes including steak, seafood, pasta and vegetarian options.
RELATED: Stella Bleu Bistro celebrates grand opening, bringing more business to downtown Springfield
Two restaurants began operating near Stella Bleu Bistro out of the shared-kitchen in the Bushnell Building, 16 N. Fountain Ave.
Bubby's Chicken & Waffles, a food truck/restaurant, has been selling a "rare" combination of chicken and waffles since the end of June.
Kareem Crossley, the owner, said the cold weather prompted him to move his food truck indoors.
“I’m not selling plates, I’m selling experiences,” Crossley said. “I like it because it is intimate. I get to connect with my customers on a personal level - I’m just not taking your money.”
The waffles he sells are not regular waffles – they contain Fruity Pebbles to create a sense of nostalgia.
RELATED: Bubby’s Chicken & Waffles, a Springfield food trick, moves indoors
J&J's Phat Head Foods, an evening restaurant, began offering curbside service and delivery in December from the shared-kitchen.
John Hartman and James Smith, co-owners and Springfield natives, decided to start the restaurant because of their love for food and desire to own a food truck.
Smith explained that their restaurant is, “more like a food truck in a building.”
Best selling items include wings and potato wedges with made-from-scratch sauces. Other items include chicken Alfredo French bread pizza, pork Philly, chicken Philly, and hamburgers
“We’re just trying to get a foothold here because we know we sell quality food,” Smith said.
In the future, the co-owners are looking to expand to UberEats, buy a food truck, and test the third-shift market.
RELATED: New Springfield restaurant offers curbside service, delivery
Cassano's, a regional pizza chain that owns four stores in Springfield, built a new, modern restaurant beside the Cassano's located at 2123 S. Limestone St.
The new building includes a pickup window, a spacious dining room and a better kitchen. The old building was demolished.
Cassano’s isn’t expanding, but it is taking a close look at its existing locations and making sure its stores are providing what customers want, Chip Cassano, CEO for the chain said.
Once the store on South Limestone Street was completed, the franchise began a similar project at the Cassano’s on North Bechtle Avenue.
RELATED: Cassano’s redevelops two existing Springfield restaurants
Another food/drink business expanding is Winans Chocolates & Coffees.
The coffee shop will offer a drive-thru window, a patio and wine at it’s new location, 1406 N. Limestone in NCF Savings Bank retail space.
“We are so thankful for this opportunity and can’t wait to bring another “something new” to The Champion City,” Owner, Chandi Shah said.
This is the second Winans location Chandi Shah and her business partner Travis Van Voorhis own - their other location is at North Fountain Avenue.
The new Winans was slated to open in late 2019, but construction on the property is currently ongoing.
RELATED: New Winans location in Springfield will offer wine, drive-thru
The Springfield IHOP, previously located at 2206 N. Bechtle Ave., closed in late January along with other Dayton-area IHOPs.
A sign left on the door said that the store was closed temporarily, but in March the property was listed for sale.
IHOP employees told this news organization that they were not given much notice before the IHOP restaurants were closed.
A spokeswoman for the restaurant chain previously said that the restaurant’s parent company was “exploring options” to reopen IHOP restaurants in the Dayton area that were padlocked and abruptly closed in mid-January.
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