Despite COVID-19 slowing all businesses, especially in the hospitality industry, Cass County continues to have new restaurants open.
This year has seen many ethnic restaurants, a coffee shop, a former coffee shop that’s expanded into a restaurant and even a Haitian grocery store.
On Jan. 13, Guatemalan restaurant La Chapincita opened at 215 S. 5th St. and then moved to the second floor above Yesenia’s Ice Cream and Restaurant, 524 E. Market St., in June.
The first place was too small, said Juana Marcos, who’s co-owner with her husband, Johnny U.S. Hernandez.
Along with moving, the couple increased the restaurant’s hours and expanded the menu beyond the family recipes, including some Mexican food.
Guatemalan food differs from Mexican food by ingredients and less spiciness, although it can also be served spicy or not spicy, Marcos said.
Although not a restaurant, Jehovah-Jireh Haitian Market brought in new types of food when it opened at 704 North St. on Jan. 26.
Owner Shante Bastien wanted her store to be a combination of her native foods, other cultures’ foods and a convenience store with milk, eggs, cooking oil and staples.
In the two years she’s been in Logansport, she saw places for Mexican and Asian groceries but nothing from her island home.
“We have a lot of Haitians coming for Ford and Tyson, so I feel we need a Haitian business here,” she said. “Most of the stuff we use, we can’t find at any grocery stores.”
In Galveston, Laurie Dowell opened Believe Bakery and Sweets, 207 S. California St., slowly with just holiday pies in November, but she’s slowly increased her offerings in 2020.
Now a full-service bakery, it also serves ice cream and will add breakfast items and soup and sandwiches in October, she said.
And the décor has become more and more Christmas-oriented to reflect her favorite holiday.
On March 25 in Twelve Mile, Andrea Rudicel closed The Coffee Barn, which she started in 2016, to open The Firehouse Café at 8060 E. Indiana 16.
By moving three doors down and into more space, she was able to increase the menu to be a full restaurant.
It’s the only restaurant in the town, and the closest thing like it is a pub in Fulton, she said.
On July 6, Kreig Adkins opened 6th Street Coffee Company at 2420 E. Market St., Logansport.
This is Adkins’ second coffeehouse, the first 6th Street Coffee being in Peru, and its opening was also delayed a few months due to social distancing.
The business roasts its own beans and develops its own blends and flavors for purchase, as well as sells coffee by the cup.
And the last restaurant to open in Cass County was River View Restaurant, Bar and Grill at 230 Eel River Avenue on July 13.
The opening was delayed from March and from a partner bowing out.
But Juan Sanchez brought in his nephew Rerugio “Mario” Ramirez to manage the front while Sanchez works the kitchen, and they provide a combination of family restaurant and diner-style American food with an emphasis on breakfast.
“Everything’s made from scratch,” Sanchez said.
A lot of the new restaurants are exotic to Cass County, but the impact of a changing population has impacted Logansport more than the rest of Indiana.
The city’s 31.4% increase in non-white population since 1970 is slightly more than double that of Indiana’s 13.9%, according to census figures.
“We see these ethnic groups opening these restaurants in our schools,” said Logansport Community School Corporation Superintendent Michele Starkey.
The school system now handles 23 languages, including distinct dialects, but those without school-aged children may be under-reported.
As Indiana becomes more diverse, more flavors than pizza and taco places have popped up in places outside Indianapolis, Northwest Indiana and other major population areas.
“To see that out in the state is really exciting,” said Elise Shrock, director of operations for the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association.
But she’s not surprised that changing populations would be so visible in the food and even lodging businesses.
“The hospitality industry as a whole is one that shows a lot of diversity,” she said.
It’s easy to get a job in the industry and work your way up, she added.
Besides the new restaurants opening, some have re-appeared after temporary closings.
In mid-June, the new Hardee’s building at 1121 E. Market St. opened, replacing the one that had been gutted by fire on Sept. 8, 2019.
The Market Street Grille reopened after being closed temporarily because of the COVID-19 impact on business.
A new business partner helped stabilize the restaurant, which had opened in mid-December.
Then in the second week of August, Mariscos Acapulco restaurant reopened at 121 S. 6th St. after being closed about a year.
Owner Oscar Marquez said that he found a chef in Chicago to take over the kitchen duties for the restaurant.
There was also sad news for long-time Logansport diners.
On July 1, Mr. Happy Burger owner Bob Shanks officially closed down the west side branch at 1050 W Market St., putting an announcement of his retirement on the sign and putting the property up for sale.
He also put the original restaurant on 3131 E. Market St. up for sale and will be selling it and the Mr. Happy Burger name and menu with it.
It remains open and will turn 60 on Nov. 17, 2021.
Shanks said he and his children are ready to retire.
His Bob-O-Link restaurant in Royal Center is also up for sale.