January 18, 2017
8:56 am

New Italian Eatery for St. Joseph

The concept they called The Food District never really gained traction in it's 18-month run, and Jim Kramer is smart enough to recognize that it likely was never going to turn around, so Monday was its last day. The oversized front windows onto State Street in downtown St. Joseph have once again been papered over as work crews have launched remodeling changes to convert the eatery into a new authentic Italian restaurant under the watchful eye of veteran restaurateur Ray Mays.

Plans are for the overhaul of both the decor and the menu to take place over the course of the next month, with the intent of re-opening in time for the Magical Ice Carving Festival in the central business district of St. Joseph the first weekend in February.

Kramer tells me that the completely new facility at 214 State Street will be called Vivi's Italian Garden, and will feature authentic Italian fare, something that many customers have asked for repeatedly. (Vivi is pronounced vee-vee, for the record). 

Kramer is the man behind the flagship he calls O B Glad -- Michigan. Under his guidance, successful ventures include Schu's Grill & Bar and Tim's Too, both of which are in the same city block as the new Vivi's Italian Garden, as well as the Woodfire Trattoria in downtown Dowagiac and both Nancy's at the Beach and Roma's Pizzeria in New Buffalo.

Jim will be among the first to admit that The Food District experiment was a misfire which just fell short on multiple fronts and never really managed to gather the type of steady clientele that his other properties enjoy, so he pulled the plug and elected to completely re-route to an entirely new concept from the ground up. He's hopeful that Italian cuisine fans will find the style and caliber of food that Ray Mays and his kitchen staff will bring to the table will bring the long time restaurant venue back to life for both residents of the region and seasonal visitors alike. 

Kramer also has plans to reconfigure the floor plan so that there will be a bit more intimacy for some, while still having space for larger parties to enjoy the amenities in a group setting when they want to gather. Hours of operation have not been finalized as yet, but will likely be very similar to the 7-days per week schedule that restaurants in that building have maintained since the days of the former H.I.'s Saloon.

Stay tuned for additional details from the men who loves to see happy diners as Jim and Ray work to recapture the magic in the heart of downtown St. Joseph.
Filed Under :
Location : MichiganSt. Joseph
People : Jim KramerRay Mays
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