GREENFIELD — A group of residents has banded together to save a popular downtown eatery that was slated to close.
After SoupHerb’s owner, Suzanne Kosovich, announced plans to close the Greenfield restaurant this summer, a group of interested residents came forward with a proposal to relocate the business while preserving its theme and signature soup and sandwich dishes, said Kosovich, who is retiring.
A group of buyers is currently in negotiation with a local realtor to move SoupHerb to 16 N. State St., former home of Hey Café, just around the corner from SoupHerb’s present location, 2 W. Main St. The buyers hope to open the business by July 18, and the former cafe space will then be up for lease.
Last month, the owner of Indianapolis-based Cajun restaurant Papa Roux called off plans to open a Greenfield location at 16 N. State, leaving the storefront unoccupied.
Everything from décor to menu items at the new location will remain the same as SoupHerb’s current offerings, said Mark Lozier, a Greenfield insurance agent who’s spearheading the effort to buy the café. A group of about six local residents also are planning to pitch in to buy the business, said Lozier, who declined to disclose the purchase price.
The new property has seating for about 75 patrons. It also has access for a gas stove, an option not available at SoupHerb’s current location.
Lozier said he hopes the new chef will be able to make use of the stove, perhaps creating additional menu items.
The café’s current operating hours — 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays — likely will remain the same, Lozier said.
The restaurant’s staff fluctuates between seven and nine, two of whom are full-time employees, Kosovich said. A few of the restaurant’s current employees likely will transfer to the new location, Lozier said.
Greenfield City Councilman John Patton, a member of the purchasing group, said the new owners will need to obtain building permits and approval from the Greenfield Historic Board of Review before opening the new location. The group plans to seek approval at the board’s next meeting, scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday at Greenfield City Hall, 10 S. State St.
Kosovich has agreed to help the new owners transition into the space by training new employees, she said.
“I want to make sure they do it right,” she said with a laugh.
Together with her husband, Walter, Kosovich opened SoupHerb in 2010 after working as a chef at another Greenfield restaurant.
She’s thrilled to see a group of residents come together to keep the café afloat, she said.
Lozier said the purchasing group wants to keep downtown Greenfield active; losing SoupHerb — one of the few area breakfast and lunch options — would be a significant blow to the local economy, he said.
“We’re buying it to keep what’s going on in downtown Greenfield going,” Lozier said.
Bob Hunt, who together with his wife, Bev, owns the Creative Arts and Event Center, which houses SoupHerb and several other shops, said he plans to lease out the space left behind by the business.
The gallery space next to SoupHerb, which acts as a dining area for customers, will likely be converted to additional retail space, Hunt said.
Hunt sees an opportunity to rethink the space, which could involve adding walls to create separate business areas.
Though Hunt said he’ll be sad to see Kosovich leave the building, he’s pleased the business will find new life right around the corner.
“You can feel the appreciation people have for what Suzanne’s done and all she’s brought to downtown,” Hunt said. “We’re really excited to know she’ll pass that on.”