The Elm, a new Bloomington restaurant offering seasonal, modern American cuisine, opened on March 30. The restaurant, located at 614 E. Second St., features curated photography by co-owner David Moore.
The Elm will be open Tuesday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, the restaurant is also open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The restaurant will exclusively offer service on Saturdays, only from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
David Moore, who co-owns The Elm with his wife Martha, said he took all of the photos displayed in the restaurant himself on various excursions. The couple own a local contemporary art gallery and decided to exhibit some of their landscape photography to complement the natural interior design choices to maintain a warm and inviting dining space.
The Moore family and staff worked with several leading companies on the interior design and construction of The Elm, including Lauren Bordes, Brown Smith Studios and Loren Wood Builders.
David Moore said staff members were able to facilitate the design concept. For example, he said the bartender had a lot to do with the design of the bar itself.
“If you allow people to be creative, I think you get what elm looks like,” David Moore said. “The Elm is the result of a controlled, decisive and creative collaboration.”
David Moore said he and Martha were inspired by a Portland man who created a restaurant that combined all of his interests and values, such as his family and travel photography.
“It’s not like I sat down and said, ‘I’m going to open a restaurant in 10 years,'” David Moore said. “It kind of happened, you know, suddenly a building becomes available, then a manager does it, and a lot of other things.”
David Moore said his original idea was to combine an art gallery and a bar, but the couple were also still interested in local and seasonal restaurants.
“Our hope is that the menu will feature local elements but that the menu will also change seasonally,” said David Moore.
Martha Moore said it’s important to her that restaurant patrons come to The Elm just to see what they’re serving right now and that she appreciates chef Dan Thomas for understanding that sentiment.
She said she and her husband believe a space should be for the community and in their restaurant people can always come for good food, special occasions and relaxing meals.
“We’ve been open for dinner five nights and just to watch the variety of people who come in brings us a lot of joy,” Martha Moore said.
Eric Daniels-Howell, General Manager of The Elm, said the staff always strive to provide excellent, quality food using seasonal ingredients.
“I think a lot of restaurants find themselves looking for techniques instead of looking for flavor issues, and we’re really lucky to have a culinary team that straddles that line,” Daniels-Howell said.
He said he is proud of the group of food and hospitality professionals he works with. He is confident that the restaurant can serve up an upscale and comforting dining experience.
Daniels-Howell said the pandemic forced the restaurant to make design changes to the building before it opened, such as offering seats at a viewing window in the kitchen and ensuring seats are spaced out. The restaurant could likely seat up to 260 indoors, but they’ve intentionally limited seating to 140 indoors to ensure a more comfortable and safer dining experience, Daniels-Howell said.
The cafe at the front of the restaurant can also seat up to 40 people and homemade pastries.
He said the pandemic means no restaurant can serve at the level it always has historically, but he hopes The Elm will become a reliable place for Bloomington residents.
“Our mantra is ‘drop-in, branch out,’ Daniels-Howell said. “We want our neighbors in Bloomington to feel like they can come to our house for a casual daily meal, but at the same time, they can also have an experience that takes them away from home.”