by Megan Graham
Drake’s Bar and Grill, a restaurant specializing in barbecue and pizza, will open for business today in its downtown location. The restaurant, located at 115 W. Sycamore, sits at the former location of the popular Sycamore Grill.
“I came here when it was Sycamore Grill,” owner Randy Drake said. “I loved this place, but I never thought I’d have the chance to own it.”
Drake hopes the restaurant will be a popular spot for downtown employees and families. He believes the stream of openings downtown, like Pepperwhistle and the soon-opening Main St. Cafe, are signs that Kokomo’s downtown is heading in the right direction.
“Back in ‘09, they wrote us off for dead,” he said. “But look at us. We’re Kokomoans. We’re going to survive and we’re going to be great. And I want to be a part of that.”
The menu features a spread of family-recipe barbeque, pastas, seafood, sandwiches and pizzas. Drake plans to bring in a chef to prepare authentic Mexican dishes as business gets underway.
He says the Kokomo community has been instrumental in getting the restaurant started. He especially credits Susan Alexander, business growth facilitator at the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance, and Monty Henderson, business advisor at the Small Business Development Center.
“We are excited. We think there’s going to be some great synergy with his opening and we’ll be able to enlarge our entertainment district,” Alexander said. “We have several [restaurants] in the works right now; there is definitely a trend. There’s a very positive trend downtown.”
Drake said he also hopes to offer live jazz music and bands in the future.
“Why do we have to drive to Indianapolis to hear good bands?” he asked.
Since the restaurant doesn’t yet have a liquor license, today will serve as a soft opening. The restaurant will host a grand opening in a few months, which Drake hopes will be a family affair—he wants Drake’s to be a tribute to the community and its people.
“I want it to have that local feeling,” he said.
Megan Graham is the Kokomo Tribune business reporter. She can be reached by phone at 765-454-8570 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.