Village Deli gets OK from Bloomington: 4-stack residential, pancakes still on ground floor

“Where am I supposed to get pancakes in the meantime?”

That was Bloomington plan commission president Brad Wisler’s lighthearted question to Village Deli owner Bob Costello, at the commission’s regular meeting on Monday.

Wisler’s “meantime” is the period between the upcoming demolition of the one-story Village Deli building on Kirkwood Avenue and the re-opening of the breakfast joint on the ground floor of a new four-story residential project at the same spot.

Wisler and other plan commissioners had just heard a presentation on the proposal, which would build 25 apartments with a total of 29 bedrooms—11 studios, 11 1-bedroom, two 2-bedroom, and one 3-bedroom apartment.

The ground floor will include a 12-stall parking garage for the residential tenants, who will access it off the rear alley. The ground floor will also have 2,700 square feet of restaurant space, which will be the Village Deli’s new home.

Based on the preview of the project given at a mid-June plan commission lunch session, a possible timeline for completion of the project is August 2023.

All other things being equal, that would have meant about a year-long Village Deli pancake void.

But Costello gave Wisler some welcome news: “Our current plan would be to relocate the Village Deli in another location. So we could continue to provide your delicious pancakes, Brad, and continue to employ the staff that we have, that make our business work every day!”

The project was not controversial for plan commissioners, who gave it unanimous approval. Continue reading “Village Deli gets OK from Bloomington: 4-stack residential, pancakes still on ground floor”

Column | Because sometimes it takes a village: Local diner says, “We need your help!”

Next Friday it looks like I will again be able to enjoy a breakfast of biscuits and gravy from Village Deli on Kirkwood Avenue.

A temporary shutdown was supposed to go through Sept. 1. There was no word as that date came and went, so speculation had tended towards permanent closure.

But in a Facebook post this past Friday morning, the diner announced an attempted re-opening on a limited basis starting Sept. 17.

According to the Facebook post, online orders only will be taken on Fridays, with full table service for “very limited seating” to be offered on Saturdays and Sundays.

The missing ingredient for a more ambitious re-opening is staff. The Facebook post invites people to apply for positions online.  As of Sunday morning, the Facebook post has been shared 120 times. That’s a measure of the affection Bloomington has for the place.

Lots of folks don’t hang out on Facebook. If you have a network that includes folks looking for work, please help spread the word.

And to be clear, it’s not just Village Deli that needs more staff.

I think the next several months could help decide what Bloomington’s retail and restaurant landscape looks like in the downtown area through the mid-2020s.

On Sunday morning, a quick lap around the courthouse square and down Kirkwood Avenue confirmed that Village Deli is not the only place looking for help. Here’s a list of the 14 places I saw with help-wanted signs or notices about staff shortages: B-Town Diner; Baked!; Cafe Pizzaria; The Indiana Store; Nick’s; Five Guys; Noodles and Company; Soma; CVS; Pili’s Party Taco & Deli; Bub’s; Bloomington Bagel Company; B-Town Smoke Time; and Taco Bell.

And I know there’s plenty more places looking for help that don’t happen to have a sign posted on their front window. One of those is my favorite place of all: Function Brewing. From their Facebook post a week ago,  “The position requires multitasking, efficiency, precision, and the ability to follow directions independently. Prior kitchen experience is a plus but not required as this can be a good first kitchen job.” Continue reading “Column | Because sometimes it takes a village: Local diner says, “We need your help!””