Benton Park Business Spotlight-Elaine’s Restaurant

Joe Warmbrodt here, Realtor with Garcia Properties.  I’m with Elaine today for our business spotlight interview with Elaine’s restaurant on Cherokee. We were talking earlier, this wasn’t the original location or the original name you were going to have for a restaurant. True. What happened?

Almost went to the ‘burbs…

Well, I ran another restaurant for quite a long time. About seven years ago I decided that I needed to do it for myself and not for somebody else. I put together a business plan, and we originally looked at a property on the Grant’s Trail. We were going to do a little shop on the trial. I wanted to call it “Free Water” and give away water to all the dogs and people that came by and just have a little light fare for people on the trial. When that fell through, I was disappointed, but in the long run I am so glad with what I’ve started here. It’s not completely different because there’s a lot, still, of foot traffic and dogs on the street, a lot of people and new faces.

There’s a lot less restrictions in the City.  We own this brick and mortar. We wouldn’t have owned the one we looked at out in the suburbs.  It’s a big difference in that aspect too.

Survey says…Hot Meatball Sandwich…

What would you say your specialties are? What’s the most popular Right now, it’s the meatball. I only run it in the wintertime because it doesn’t sell as well in the summer. But it is just hot on the block. Everybody loves a hot meatball sandwich. We make our marinara in-house with fresh tomatoes and onions and garlic. So, you can’t go wrong with that.

Gotta try our Flori Deli Veggie!

Another favorite is the Flora Deli though. A lot of vegetarians on the street. It’s a vegetarian sandwich with all the vegetables in-house. Every vegetable we’ve got on the sandwich was a local made or a store made honey vinegerette local honey, it’s delicious.

You provide catering? Yep, yep, catering, we do a jumbo sub, the entire baguette sliced into hand-size pieces for everybody just to grab and enjoy. And we’ve done catering for a lot of the local business on the streets and families and friends as well, it’s great.

So, parties and that kind of a thing, come down while you’re on Cherokee Street to have a bite to eat, but also good for those private events, parties, working lunch type thing. That’d be good too.

You mentioned that what you had feared before opening your business….didn’t happen.  Then, things you never even thought of….like a  pop up.

Well, the things you feel that you have in your pocket, like, oh, I’ve done this a thousand times, they change when it’s all for you. And the things that you thought, oh, I’m going to struggle with this, is oftentimes the things that you just solidly have. Like opening up and finding the spot for everything, just the organization of everything, I figured I had. But it changes every day. I’m always like, why wouldn’t I have thought of putting this here or putting that there or holding this like this. It’s just the little things sometimes is more challenging.

What strikes me is as a business owner for a food establishment, you get to see this as a test kitchen every day. Because you get to see people’s faces whether they like it or not.

Yeah, and that’s one of my favorite parts. I’m more of a cook than a chef. I like to feed people. I’m not trying to make something crazy. I just love people being satisfied from eating my food.

So any new things on the horizon, new sandwich ideas? Always, always, I realize that my menu might be small, but we have so many options here.

Build your own…it’s a winner!

The build our own is super popular because people might not like a little part of how we figure this sandwich should be, and they just make their own. In fact, I had one of my regulars come in the other day and build your own. And I was like, “That looks delicious.” I sat down and ate the same sandwich for lunch.  I was like, “This is delicious. I think I’m going to put it on the menu.”

That’s so cool. Come on down, check out Elaine’s. Oh, one more thing. You were telling me a couple weeks ago there was a big thing, Print. What was that event down there?

The Print Bazaar, absolutely. It’s so great. Every local business on the Cherokee Street here hosts a artist, just a local artist. And it ranges from, there’s a lot of art, like paint and print artists, so there’s a Print Bazaar. But I had in shop a girl that did natural tinctures and used natural herbs. She’s a botanist, and what she had was amazing. I got a muscle rub for rubbing in your sore muscles just made out of natural ointments that is just wonderful.

Stuff you could never plan, right.

I know, I know. I was just so thrilled to learn about somebody else’s artwork in my shop as well.

Check us out online @, you can order online there was well. We do deliveries, we do pickups. We do carry outs, you can eat in the store.

Cherokee Street’s a great street just to come out and walk up and down and see what’s going on. There’s always a new business opening up, a lot of really cool stuff.