New restaurant to offer home cooking with a twist

2013-01-08T12:22:00Z New restaurant to offer home cooking with a twistPhil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com
January 08, 2013 12:22 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | The city is getting a new restaurant, but this one is more likely to be popular with the softball crowd at Fairgrounds Park than the diners in Valparaiso's downtown dining district.

LaVeta Stephens brought her plans for the Parkside Urban Bistro to the city's Site Review Committee on Tuesday.

The restaurant, which Stephens described as offering "a contemporary twist on comfort cuisine," will be at 1305 N. Calumet Ave. at the north end of a strip center. The space previously was occupied by a drapery store.

Stephens said she hired a company to do a survey to see what kind of dining experience was missing and what people would like. A recent graduate of the culinary school at Ivy Tech, Stephens said the results are a combination of home cooking adding a global flair.

"Instead of chicken pot pies, we will have duck comfit, which has a whole different level of flavor," she said. "It's not pretentious or upscale. We want people to be able to afford it and come out more than once a week and bring their family."

The restaurant will have a bar and seating for about 50. Stephens said the casual atmosphere will include a fireplace and couches for people to spend time together. Live music is planned to satisfy her father's love of blues and jazz as well as her own affinity for classic rock.

Fire Department representative Jack Johnson predicted success based on the presence of the nearby softball fields and suggested Stephens look ahead to possible expansion by installing a fire sprinkler system.

Stephens and her husband Rafeal, a CSX train dispatcher, hope to open the restaurant in April or May. The Parkside Urban Bistro (PUB) will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. A decision on whether to be open for Sunday dinners is still being considered.

The couple is seeking a license to sell wine and beer, and, in addition to being the chef, LaVeta Stephens said she is studying wine so she will be more familiar with the qualities of various vintages.

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