MICHIGAN CITY| A locally owned fine dining restaurant is taking over the space where the landmark Rodini's served governors, senators, movie stars like Sam Elliott and pro athletes like the Dallas Cowboys for 44 years.

Patrick's Grille will replace Rodini's after extensive renovations to create a more chic, upscale ambiance. The menu will feature seafood, pasta and never-frozen Black Angus steaks that are dry-aged for 21 days and cut and trimmed to order. There's also vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Local entrepreneur Patrick Wilkins wants the restaurant, which opens Monday, to fill a void for locally owned 21-and-older dining establishments in Michigan City. He hopes to create a place where local business people can entertain clients and that's more attuned to the community than the generic chain restaurants that have popped up all over. He wanted somewhere people would go to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions.

"I am honored to occupy the space of such a beloved establishment in my hometown, Michigan City," Wilkins said. "It is an incredible opportunity to be a part of the growing Michigan City hospitality industry in this location, and I am thrilled to share my favorite dishes from around the world with my family and friends."

Wilkins was good friends with Rodini's owner Larry Fegaras and had been to his restaurant "a million times" over the years. He liked the location because it's on the busy South Franklin Street not far from Interstate 94 and locals had already been going there to eat for years.

After purchasing the property, Wilkins gutted the building until it was four basic walls.

"Everything is all new, including the plumbing," he said. "We didn't cut corners. Nothing was spared."

The new restaurant seats 90 in the dining room and another 14 at the bar. Patrick's Grille also has a private-meeting room for 45 people with Wi-Fi and an 80-inch flat screen television that can show Power Point presentations.

Wilkins wants to create an alternative to the many chain restaurants that line South Franklin Street in Michigan City. He said chains are focused on turning tables and making money, and he wants to create a casual atmosphere where people can discuss local politics, high school sports or other community happenings.

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"A lot of the restaurant chains are family oriented, and this is a restaurant that's 21 and older and a little more tuned in with what's going on in the community," he said. "It's upscale quality fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere. It has a cosmopolitan flare so you can get out of Michigan City without leaving Michigan City. It's really good food but it's still casual."

He hired Chef Rick Bruggeman, who has cooked in Chicago and was Executive Chef at Potawatomi Country Club for 25 years. His steaks – a Filet Mignon, Ribeye and New York Strip – were a hit on soft opening nights.

"They melt in your mouth," Wilkins said.

Patrick’s Grille will have 21 craft beers on tap, top-shelf liquor, desserts with ice cream and liquor like the Grasshopper and Golden Cadillac cocktails, and "a very solid" wine list.

"It's not super-extensive but it's well-rounded, he said. "Anyone who enjoys a good wine will be able to find a bottle that suits their tastes."

The restaurant will feature a new fish every Friday, prime rib on Saturdays, and a barbecue with family-style sides on Sundays, as well as occasional specials.

Patrick's Grille, 4125 S. Franklin St., will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

For reservations, call (219) 873-9401.


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.