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The Mark Dine & Tap: Q&A with Jonathan Lutz

Courtney Eckerle | Friday, October 8, 2010

Jonathan Lutz, a native Chicagoan, moved to South Bend with his wife seven years ago, and four years later opened up his flagship restaurant, Uptown Kitchen in Granger. Now, his latest venture, The Mark Dine & Tap, is the only locally owned business in Eddy Street Commons. With “high quality and fresh ingredients,” a student friendly to-go window and an upscale diner feel, Lutz is hoping it will be a stand out among South Bend  eateries.

CE: How is The Mark different from Uptown Kitchen?

JL: I think that there are a lot of differences, actually. A couple of similarities that I hope people find in both restaurants is that they are first and foremost getting a very high quality, fresh tasting, delicious meal. I also hope they feel like they are getting a very friendly yet professional level of service that is being served in a really unique and comfortable yet classy environment. But that’s pretty much where I would say the similarities end. It’s still what I would call upscale casual dining, but the look of the place is completely different. And the menu, although still based on high quality, fresh foods — we have over 400 fresh ingredients in our kitchen — the reality is that the menu is completely different than Uptown’s.

CE: Why did you decide to open up in Eddy Street Commons? I’m sure you’re aware you’re the only locally owned business there.

JL: I think it’s great. I wish there were more locally-owned spots. I feel like there’s a lot of chains that can afford it, so I’m just taking a chance because I feel like this place has a lot of potential.

CE: Anything specific that made you want to open up at Eddy Street?

JL: The day that I absolutely knew I wanted to come to Eddy Street was at the end of the basketball season a few seasons ago. I think we were playing Villanova. I told my family we were going to meet over at Legends at 5:30 before the 7:00 game, and we got there and Legends was absolutely packed and we could not get in. We walked out the door, and this was when Eddy Street was being built, and I looked across the street and I thought, “Hey, that would be a great spot to put a restaurant.”

CE: How would you describe the menu?

JL: I kind of call it gourmet comfort food. We take some classic comfort food and diner dishes and give it a little bit of a gourmet twist. There’s a good variety of stuff, there’s definitely some stuff on The Mark’s menu that, although high quality and fresh, maybe not so good for the waistline, but we still have plenty of healthy choices, and vegetarian and gluten free options as well.

CE: Explain your To-Go window. Do you think it will especially appeal to students?

JL: There [are] 260-odd apartments around Eddy Street, plus there’s condominiums and town homes, so there’s all sorts of stuff around here, so I do believe that option will be well received.

CE: What makes The Mark a great place to eat?

JL: I think there’s a lot of things that make us stand out — for instance, we’re the only one that’s locally owned and operated — and I think that there’s a good mix of things to eat and drink at Eddy Street, but nothing quite like what we’re offering. It’s the fact that we’re a nice sit-down restaurant with a variety of food that’s at a good location.