In 1981 Kurt Janowsky was graduating from Adams High School in South Bend, but he’d already been introduced to the foodservice industry. At 14 Kurt took a job as a dishwasher at a local pancake house to help support his mother and siblings. At 15 he was a cook at the popular Moonraker restaurant in downtown South Bend. At 17, after High School, Kurt became an apprentice chef at Boca West Club and Resort in Boca Raton, Florida where he developed is love for higher culinary taste. Returning to South Bend at 18, he became the executive chef at Knollwood Country Club, the youngest chef in Club Corporation's (the company that owned Knollwood) history. At 20 years old, using a credit card for a cash advance down payment, Kurt purchased his first restaurant. The Loft, a favorite upscale restaurant in downtown South Bend, was Kurt’s first business and the year was 1983. He wasn’t old enough to drink, but owned one of South Bend’s most popular restaurant and bar!
Kurt’s passion for quality food and service grew as he started a partnership with Bruce and Pat Tassell, who owned The Ice House restaurant, in 1985. It was a partnership that would last for over 30 years. Together with the Tassells, Kurt purchased The Matterhorn in 1988, opened Baxter's in Elkhart in 1989, then joined them as a partner in operating The Emporium in downtown South Bend in 1995. At a relatively young age, Kurt was all-in following his dream to create top level dining experiences.
Today, Kurt’s vision has lead to almost 20 upscale restaurants and bars in the Michiana area including a catering company and exclusive venues such as Palais Royale at Morris Civic Theatre, Crystal Ballroom at The Lerner in Elkhart, and many others. The chicy Café Navarre in downtown South Bend and AAA’s Four Diamond Award winning restaurant Artisan in downtown Elkhart are Kurt’s flagship fine dining restaurants. His reputation for quality along with superior customer service and satisfaction were all grounded in humble beginnings. It all matters to Kurt, it’s personal.
Timeline of Events
Graduates Adams High School while working evenings and weekends at restaurants for four years.
Moves to Boca Ratan Florida and becomes apprentice chef at Boca West country club.
Returns to South Bend and takes Executive Chef position at Knollwood Country club at age 19.
Purchased The Loft restaurant and bar in downtown South Bend at age 20.
Joins partners (Bruce and Pat Tassell) at The Icehouse and Doc Pierce’s restaurants.
Purchases The Matterhorn restaurant in Elkhart with the Tassells.
Purchases McCormick’s bar in South Bend and Baxter’s in Elkhart.
Joined the Tassells at East Bank Emporium restaurant in South Bend.
Successfully expanded menus and ingredient quality at his many establishments.
Opened Crystal Ballroom at The Lerner theatre in Elkhart.
Ushered in the resurgence of downtown activity when Café Navarre opened in downtown South Bend.
Founded The Exchange Whiskey Bar in downtown South Bend.
Opened Rocky River Tap & Table in Granger at the formerly Tilted Kilt location, and O’Rourke’s at Eddy Street.
Founded Artisan in Elkhart, a AAA Four Diamond award winning restaurant. (One of only five in Indiana).
Exclusive caterer of the Palais Royale at Morris Civic Theatre in South Bend. Purchased The Woodward event center.
Opened Renegade Social in Elkhart and The Armory in South Bend. Purchased former Main Street Pub and opening under the revered name “Coach's.”