Edgewater closes after 15 years

CULVER — Sunday evening, the first restaurant to establish Culver as a great dining destination was darkened.
The Edgewater Grille, at 620 E. Lake Shore Drive, posted the announcement to its Facebook page Friday morning, acknowledging rumors of the impending closing of the popular restaurant — which had been operating without its liquor license for some weeks — were at least partially true.
“The Edgewater Grille,” read the announcement, “will be closing its doors this Sunday, March 25th, and will reopen early May with a new menu, new name, and an awesome facelift. Come in before it’s too late!”
Restaurant owner Dan Bickel confirmed Saturday he has sold the restaurant to Mark Damore, Jr., son of the owner of the Original Root Beer stand, just down the street. And though Bickel said a restaurant will open in the building in time for summer, no definitives have been established as to exact date, name, style, or other attributes of what’s to come.
The Edgewater Grille opened in 1997 under Larry and Jo Surrisi. In 1999, it was expanded and renovated to the stylish exterior and interior its had since. That’s the same year George and Tammy Pesek moved to Culver from Chicago and opened the popular Corndance Cafe, later establishing the Marmont Grille. Surrisi eventually sold the Edgewater and launched a second restaurant venture in Culver, resulting in a variety of fine dining options unusual for an Indiana community of 1,500, and helping bolster Culver’s image as a resort destination.
Bickel purchased the Edgewater from Ralph Braun of Winamac in Aug., 2008, around a year after his purchase of the Uptown Cinema, which he will continue to own and operate. He notes he’ll also continue operation of Culver Banquet Center catering facility on Lake Shore Drive, which will host a number of events in the coming year.
As for the Uptown Cinema, unfortunately for Culver that “No show this wkd” sign is likely to stay on the marquee a while longer. Bickel explains the cost of acquiring and shipping movies has more than doubled since last year, partly due to many movie studios’ efforts to push smaller theaters into converting from traditional film projection — which the Uptown employs — to digital projection, a change Bickel, and most small theater owners, simply can’t afford.
As a result, he says, the Uptown will show movies during the busy summer months and for special events such as the Lake Maxinkuckee Film Festival in September, but will likely remain largely dormant through the slower months of the year.
The Edgewater Grille’s Facebook status Sunday contained a message from Dan Bickel, thanking friends and patrons for their business over the years.