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Area restaurant, venue keeping the nightlife alive

SOUTH BEND — LaSalle Kitchen & Tavern in downtown South Bend just wrapped up a successful tiki-themed takeover and are looking ahead to continuing entertainment. Nate Richardson, manager of the establishment, highlighted the success of the seven-week event.

“It’s been a blast,” Richardson said. “Everybody really loved it.”

The tiki takeover started in January as an answer to the often slower traffic days that come at the beginning of the year. Customers were greeted to island decor, staff wearing flower-shirts, a bar menu of classic and custom tiki drinks, and food to match. Rum tastings were offered early in the event and even some of the musicians performing at the tavern came dressed for the islands with a few themed songs tossed into their sets.

The idea was born after Lasalle’s general manager visited a tiki bar in San Francisco. Though the island fad largely died out in the 1970s, interest in the tiki experience has reemerged in the past decade, with full time themed bars dotting the nation and connoisseurs building their own home tiki menus. The crew at LaSalle Kitchen and Tavern wanted to bring that experience to their customers. It was quickly decided that the initial idea of a week-long event was too short to do it well. The positive response from patrons then pushed them from their original plan of five weeks up to seven. Customers were showing up in Hawaiian shirts, swapping tropical drink recipes, and purchasing the tiki mugs used by the bar.

The event boosted sales and highlighted the excitement for such events with area diners. Richardson explained they would certainly host the event again next January and even hinted at possibilities for later this year. Though the tiki decorations are coming down, he noted there is plenty more in entertainment at LaSalle Kitchen & Tavern every week.

The upstairs restaurant, with its small corner stage and windows overlooking downtown South Bend, is a favorite performance space for many local and regional musicians. Open to all types of music, the team at LaSalle enjoys bringing in new acts and giving musicians a chance to play in front of a crowd. The relationship is mutually beneficial, with musicians bringing in crowds of their fans, friends, and family. Dinner patrons are given a reason to stay later and the later crowd has a place to see new and favorite bands while enjoying all the bar and restaurant have to offer.

In addition to hosting a variety of music from 8 to 11 p.m. most Friday and Saturday evenings, LaSalle Kitchen and Tavern also features Trivia Nights at 7 p.m. every Thursday. That event is so popular that Nate recommended reservations. He’s hoping to include other events in future, potentially bringing back some old favorites. For those interested, you can keep up on entertainment there at


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