Jasper — Something has changed on the south side of Jasper.
Under its new leadership and ownership, the Jasper Inn and Convention Center is well on its way back to being a great place for the community as well as its guests.
“We wanted people to know this is all new,” Andy Hoffman, director of marketing for Jasper Inn and Convention Center. “This is something we want to share with the community not just the hotel guests.”
On Thursday, The Bainbridge, a new upscale restaurant will open in the Jasper Inn. It accents the recently reopened Jasper Bar & Grill.
Joshua Emmons, the new chef of The Bainbridge — named after Bainbridge Township — and the Jasper Bar & Grill, was hired by the Jasper Inn to create a unique flavor for the two new additions. “When I knew we would have a restaurant separate from a bar and grill, I knew I wanted the restaurant to really focus on Indiana cuisine,” Emmons said.
Emmons, now in his 30s, has been cooking since he began taking lessons at the Stocked Pot and Fat and Sassy in Huntingburg when he was a teenager. “I have a lot of respect for what they provided,” he explained.
Those first lessons fed the fuel that led him to become trained and then travel around the world. He studied at Vincennes University, Sullivan University in Louisville and Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney, Australia. He continued his education in the Campagnia Region of Italy, honing his skills through a special program with the James Beard Institute.
He worked in some of the finest restaurants in the region such as the Limestone in Louisville under Chef Jim Gerhardt. Prior to returning to Jasper, Emmons managed all the bakeries in the Indiana and Kentucky markets for Panera Bread.
He moved back to Jasper about three months ago and is the powerhouse Subhash Kataria, the Jasper Inn’s new owner, has placed in a position to really create something special at the two restaurants in the Inn. According to Hoffman, the decision was easy after they asked Emmons what he envisioned for the two restaurants and his vision jived with what Kataria and Hoffman see for the future of the Inn and restaurants.
Emmons wants to keep it all about Indiana. He plans on accenting local wineries and breweries so, although the menu will include California and French wines, the house wines will be French Lick Red and White wines. Beers from Bloomington and New Albany will also be prominent on the menu.
According to Emmons, Indiana cuisine is a mixture of traditional French and German foods. In that vein, The Bainbridge menu will only feature three entrees; ribeye steak and mashed potatoes, poached trout ratatouille and white wine stewed chicken spaetzle — a German-style dumpling.
Three entrees may not seem like many choices, but Emmons has a philosophy. “You can have 35 items on a menu,” he explains, “but rather than having 35 items, I want to create three meals that are excellent. We’ll change it up, but that’s what we are going to start with.”
The Indiana connection continues to the Jasper Bar and Grill with the names of the items on the menu. A catfish and coleslaw sandwich is The Patoka (of course), The Boilermaker is a beer-braised chicken in a whiskey sauce wrapped in a flour tortilla, and The German, a reuben on marble rye.
The restaurants fill two different roles, the Jasper Bar and Grill is for any occasion, business lunches and friendly get-togethers, while The Bainbridge will be for fine dining.
Hoffman says the bar will start live music this weekend with a concentration on country, bluegrass and blues. “It just fits with the entire atmosphere we are trying to create in the bar,” he said.
With the new music and new menu, the Jasper Bar & Grill has also been repainted. Gone are the black walls, replaced with more inviting colors that invoke a warm and comfortable atmosphere.
“Yeah, we left splotches of paint on the floors to symbolize the blood, sweat and tears that have went into creating this new addition to the community,” Emmons said.
“We want a place to highlight the community,” Hoffman said. “We want them to have that comfortable relaxing atmosphere. The bar is about mellowing out and listening to some great music. The Bainbridge is a celebration of our traditions and values through food.”
The improvements on the inn have continued. An exercise room is nearly complete and the convention center is available for reservations now.
The classic breakfast buffet that was a big part of the inn on Saturday and Sunday mornings in the past will be returning in the near future as well.
The Jasper Bar & Grill is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The bar features live music Fridays and Saturdays beginning this Friday at 10 p.m. “Sparrow and Crandall will be performing both nights this weekend,” Hoffman said.
“I am so excited to come back to Jasper and really have an opportunity to show what I have trained to do,” Emmons said. “To have an opportunity to come back here were my family is, you know, it’s a really exciting time.”
The Bainbridge opens tomorrow for the first time with a ribbon cutting at 4 p.m. It will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Both restaurants can be reached at 482-5555. The website is at www.jasperinncc.com and each entity has a Facebook page.
Have you noticed the roof of the Jasper Inn and Convention Center has been painted? The changes keep coming.