Outback Steakhouse will open its new Eastland Mall parking lot location Wednesday, Dec. 12.
Outback closed in its Lakeview Plaza location Dec. 4 to allow intensive training for staff in the new location. Larry Carius, who writes about the Bloomington Normal Restaurant Scene on Facebook, said Outback had been there 20 years.
"They consider Eastland Mall a better location. They will have 40 more seats. But, more importantly, Managing Partner Curtis Akers told me they had to turn away 30 large groups last Mother's Day. They built the new store to be able to accommodate larger groups," said Carius.
The Twin Cities also has a new chicken restaurant, said Carius. It's called Pop Up Chicken and is in the VFW on Morrissey Avenue in Bloomington, he said.
"And their specialty is Nashville Chicken. It's a spicy hot chicken. The first place to serve it is a restaurant in Nashville called Prince's," said Carius.
A long-vacant BP has station on Towanda Avenue also has converted to a food specialty shop. Carius said Donnie B's Gourmet Popcorn and Gifts has moved in across from the post office.
Donnie Bounds has spent approximately $250,000 on remodeling and furnishings.
"He's going to have quite a place there. He's going to carry 75 flavors of popcorn, maybe a couple dozen flavors of fudge, and a dozen flavors of chocolate all made on site. In the retail area, he plans to have an assortment of gifts," said Carius.
Carius said he thinks the location has merit, because there is significant traffic on Towanda Avenue.
Closures in the last few months include Cafe Italia, which was open for seven years; Bonafide Thai also ended after seven years after the owners decided to take a break and declined to sign a new lease. The food truck Healthy In A Hurry had also been open seven years, but the owner found a job with benefits and insurance, according to Carius.
The Tasty Crab may open before year end, Carius said. That's in the former Lucky Garden location, which, Carius said, had also been open for seven years before it closed in Bloomington.
"This, I believe, is a first for Bloomington-Normal. This is going to be a seafood boil, Cajun seafood. The owner hopes it will remind people of food they find in Florida, Georgia, and Texas," said Carius.
When Lucky Garden announced it would close, Carius said, the new owner found a great demand for sushi, and sushi will remain on the menu at the Tasty Crab, said Carius.
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