The Elm Branches Out

A rendering of a patio
A patio rendering of sprawling restaurant The Elm.

As owners
of the FAR Center for the Contemporary Arts and Pictura Gallery, David and Martha Moore are growing their creative sensibilities into the Bloomington hospitality scene. Eyeing an opening date in February 2022, The Elm is busy putting down roots in the historic Elm Heights neighborhood, sited in a revamped Bloomingfoods spot. “The Elm will stand apart in the Bloomington dining landscape for its commitment to highly seasonal menus that reflect what’s growing locally,” says general manager Eric Daniels-Howell. “We’re also uniquely located,” he says of the location that is tucked away from the traffic of town and yet steps away from Indiana University.

Led by executive chef Dan Thomas, the kitchen aims to focus on Modern American dishes composed of fresh ingredients to play nicely with a diverse, food-friendly wine list. In keeping with the cuisine, the decor is decidedly modern, filling 5,000 square feet of space across two floors and an exterior patio with lots of architectural wood features, sleek wall-mounted photography, a custom art wall, metal trim, and glass accents. The restaurant was designed by Lauren Bordes of Malane Benedetto, a firm on the East Coast, and built by Bloomington-based Loren Wood Builders. “The colors are primarily white, black, and gray with earth tones to give warmth,” says Daniels-Howell.

In addition to a downstairs cocktail bar and a smaller intimate mezzanine perch on the second floor, the Elm will maintain a modest grab-and-go cafe area with a walk-up window for daytime coffee and espresso service. Though The Elm is dinner-only to start, Daniels-Howell hopes to launch weekend brunch service later next year. “We believe that a restaurant should be two things: a place to feel the warmth of familiarity and a place to explore the new and unfamiliar,” he says. “Our owners like to say that every great adventure begins at a table over a meal.” 614 E. 2nd St., Bloomington