Bantam Diner opens in new location, offers take-out during pandemic
SOUTH BEND, Ind.— After a series of successful pop-ups in the area, the longest running being at L Street Kitchen in downtown South Bend, chef Dont’e Shaw knew his next move was to find a permanent home for his restaurant concept.
In April, amid restrictions and challenges imposed on businesses because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shaw and his business partner signed a lease on the former Remedy building at 1902 South Bend Avenue.
“As soon as the pandemic started, I just jumped in here and went to town, started painting,” Shaw said Monday. “I saw it as an opportunity.”
That opportunity manifested itself in form of opening to take-out customers while simultaneously building out and decorating the new restaurant space.
Bantam Diner opened in mid-April with a limited menu for customers to call in and pick up, featuring chicken dishes and one fish option.
“The hot chicken sandwich, which is basically somewhat like the Nashville hot chicken sandwich, everyone loves that. The peri peri, more so, is getting to people where they like that, too,” Shaw said.
Once the restaurant opens to in-person customers and restrictions are fully lifted, Bantam will offer more seafood options. A catering, prix fixe, and a la carte menus will join the carry-out menu as well.
Though restaurants in St. Joseph County are able to open on May 11 with limited capacity under Governor Eric Holcomb’s five stage plan to restart the economy, Shaw said he’s not planning to rush people in.
“I really want to make sure that people are comfortable and safe. We’ll be making the announcement when we will let people in and even in doing so, when we let those individuals in, we’re going to make sure that we have limited tables and limited seating. It’ll definitely be reservation only,” Shaw said.
Bantam Diner is targeting a June opening to in-person guests, however, even when they do, seating will be spaced out in the 2,000 square foot dining room while employees will be wearing masks and gloves. Hand sanitizer will also be available for guests.
Outdoor seating on the patio will be available when restrictions are lifted, too.
Though opening during a pandemic has served up its fair shares of challenges for the chef, Shaw said that he’s just excited to be cooking in the new space.
“We’re in a great location, in the middle of it all, between Mishawaka, Granger, and South Bend,” Shaw said. “I can’t wait for the community to get in here and try it out.”
Bantam Diner will be open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday once it’s fully operational. The restaurant will also offer a Sunday brunch twice per month.