When Bleubird cafe closed Downtown just over a year ago, shell-shocked sandwich lovers sobbed into their final Reubens.
And when the historic Roosevelt Market shuttered a few months ago at 311 N. Elm Ave., residents of the East End were similarly saddened — even if the building owners vowed to find new tenants.
Both stories will get an exceptionally tasty ending.
Restaurateurs Sarah and Dave “DK” Kelly, who closed Bleubird to launch French-inspired bistro Petite 4, have partnered with Roosevelt Market building owners Pamela Lemley and Jill Simplot.
After the neighborhood grocery store is remodeled, the four collaborators plan to reopen it this fall as The Roosevelt Market & Cafe.
Chef Sarah Kelly will split time between the kitchen at Petite 4 and the Roosevelt’s all-day eatery, which will serve coffee and baked goods — plus offer a small, focused menu.
The Roosevelt market will sell local produce and pantry staples such as flour, eggs and milk. Neighbors will be able to grab a six-pack of beer or a bottle of wine. And schoolchildren will find penny candy, much like they have since the building was constructed in 1912.
The cafe component won’t be large, but former Bleubird customers might break down the door when it opens. Why? Because a handful of Bleubird-inspired sandwiches will find their way into the Roosevelt’s small grab-and-go section — and onto the cafe menu.
“Inspired! Inspired!” Kelly clarifies, laughing. “We’ll do a few of them. In the grab-and-go, one I can tell you for sure: the turkey and brie. That one is a must. The most important thing is just to try to retain quality. I want them to be sturdy sandwiches.”
During its six-year lifespan, Bleubird became near-legendary for its gourmet lunch fodder. Even celebrity chef Alton Brown praised the place.
The Roosevelt Market & Cafe “won’t be like a Bleubird 2,” Kelly says. “But it will be reminiscent of all those things that made Bleubird successful, as well. The quality of food, the creativity, the idea behind it. ”
The Roosevelt Market & Cafe will add significant flavor to East End culture. The owners eventually plan to offer Sunday-evening plated dinners at a community table, plus host seasonal block parties.
To celebrate the Roosevelt Market’s reincarnation, a renovation kickoff party will be at 3 p.m. on Friday, April 5. Interested in following progress in the coming months? Check out @therooseveltboise on social media.
Feel free to lob a few questions on Facebook. Like, um, exactly which old Bleubird sandwich favorites will be on that cafe menu?
“I’m probably going to do some specials here and there,” Kelly admits, before chuckling again. “Don’t put the Reuben in yet! I’ll do the turkey and brie for sure. I just want people to know that they’re going to receive the same quality. If they liked Bleubird, they definitely need to walk through the door and give it a shot.”