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Lula’s owner discusses closing, future

Tori Roeck | Thursday, April 14, 2011

 

After 16 years as a South Bend staple, Lula’s Café closed in the fall much to the lament of students and town residents alike. The local hotspot was forced to shut down after its lease was not renewed for unknown reasons, Lula’s owner Steve Egan said.
 
The ownership still hopes the restaurant can make a comeback, though. 
 
“I want Lula’s to exist in the community more than anyone does,” Egan said. “I’m willing and open to listening to creative solutions on how that might happen.”
 
While Egan considered multiple opportunities to reopen at other locations, he said none of them worked out, despite his desire to bring back the popular restaurant. 
 
Because of the inclusive nature of the Lula’s environment, Egan said he would not want the café to move to the Notre Dame campus.
 
“Moving on campus would be exclusionary to most in the Michiana community so it would not be my top choice,” Egan said.
 
Egan said Lula’s ability to attract members of both the Notre Dame and South Bend communities made it a unique establishment in the area. 
 
“Lula’s has always been a bridge between the university communities … and the town,” Egan said. “Part of the appeal of Lula’s for me and a lot of other people was that we were a place where everybody was welcome.”
 
Egan said Lula’s not only served good food but also brought people together and celebrated local art and culture.
 
“It was such a welcoming environment,” Egan said. “You feel like you’re at home. You feel like you can be yourself.”
 
Egan said it was still unclear why Lula’s was driven out of its location and given less than 60 days to relocate.
 
“There’s nothing wrong with Lula’s. Lula’s was a thriving business that had this monkey wrench thrown in, this unforeseen circumstance dropped upon it,” Egan said. “Lula’s was thriving even in the face of the new businesses at Eddy Street Commons.”
 
Egan said regardless of whether or not Lula’s returns, the café would remain in the memories of its patrons.
“It’s a blessing to hear stories of people who had their first dates [in Lula’s] or met their spouse or [who say] I got them through their Ph.D.,” Egan said. “I appreciate those stories, and it’s been very nice to hear.”
 
Despite his love for Lula’s, Egan said he does not see himself maintaining the same role he used to have now that he is in a leadership position at Anthony Travel. 
 
“I would only suspect [my role] would be as a passive investor … with a more passive ownership position,” Egan said. 
 
Egan said faithful Lula’s customers should not give up on the café.
 
“My message [to them] is one of hope,” Egan said. “We just haven’t figured out the how yet.”