Culver's Corndance - Evil Czech to close by end of September

By: 
Jeff Kenney
Citizen editor

Every once in a while the rumors swirling around a small town actually turn out to be true, which in this case applies to the permanent closing of both Corndance Cafe and Evil Czech Brewery in Culver.

George Pesek, who opened Corndance in 1999 with wife Tammy, told The Culver Citizen he made the announcement to his staff Thursday afternoon that Corndance (located on Main Street) will close after Saturday, Sept. 26, and Evil Czech after the 27th. Staff members were offered jobs "up north," he added, referring to the Corndance Tavern on Grape Road in Mishawaka, which the Peseks opened five years ago, and the Evil Czech Mishawaka, which opened more recently.

"The huge success in Mishawaka is the reason we have to close in Culver," says Pesek. "The volume there just doesn't allow me any time to come to Culver and operate it properly. I never wanted to be an absentee owner, and...since we opened in Mishawaka I've been in Culver less and less."

George Pesek earned his reputation as a chef (he's the "Evil Czech" of the brewery’s namesake, a joking reference to his high-pressure approach in the kitchen) on Navy Pier in Chicago before moving his family to Culver. Evil Czech opened in subsequent years after Pesek took over the former Pinder's Restaurant site on Main and Davis Streets, trying two prior approaches to menu and ambience before opening a microbrewery at the site. Doing so had made Culver the smallest town in the US with a microbrewery.

"It's tough," says Pesek of the decision. "Our kids grew up in Culver and we're very proud to be residents of Culver. We met numerous wonderful people here and our staff is wonderful."

He noted staff members not making the move to the Mishawaka facilities will receive a severance package to help them transition.

"We definitely wanted to take care of all our staff that's been with us so long," he said, adding Thursday was "a tough day, to face my people and tell them there's no other way but closing. It needed to be done for several reasons. And the end of summer is here -- there's no better time than now to call it quits."

Pesek did say there has been some interest from someone in buying the Corndance Cafe to operate it as a restaurant.

"We will obviously be very cooperative with anybody who wants to come on and continue operating a restaurant and even a brewery (at the Evil Czech site)," he says. "It just won't be in our name."

Pesek adds that he hopes both entities' "loyal customers will continue to patronize us in Mishawaka. We see a lot of Culver people who come to see us there, which is great, to see faces we've known since 1999."

Pesek says he's sure it won't be long before someone opens a business at one or both sites.

"It's a great community," he says of Culver, "and very attractive to a lot of restaurant operators."

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The Culver Citizen's Sept. 17 print edition will include a full report on this story, or pick up an online subscription here: http://thepilotnews.com/content/e-edition-subscription

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