Today, many of the houses on Fourth Street are renovated and successful ethnic restaurants, serving Indian, Tibetan, Italian, Turkish and Thai food, among others.
Jan Rosenburg was an IU student during the 1970s when Fourth Street was still residential. She said she left in 1981, but returned in 2009 to a very different Fourth Street. Rosenburg said she thought the change was remarkable.
“I was really kind of blown away,” Rosenburg said. “Bloomington’s personality had changed.”
The metamorphosis of Fourth Street owes its inception to those who pioneered the successful restaurants and the man who paved the way, real estate agent Bruce Storm.
Storm was originally a Mooresville, Ind., resident, but moved to Bloomington after his service in the Navy ended to be closer to his family, he said. Storm said he bought his first house during the 1970s. There were no building codes in those days, and all of the houses needed renovation. Storm said he restored every house he bought.
“We had a vision,” he said.
It was a trend he would continue for more than 30 years.
He built the glass entrance for Puccini’s La Dolce Vita, tore down enclosed porches and painted the houses with new colors.
If only indirectly, he was responsible for the existence of Taste of India, Siam House, Puccini’s and My Thai Café, and this is just a taste of the international flavors found on Fourth Street.
Storm said his wife’s help was invaluable.
“Shannon has been my co-pilot through all of this,” he said.
Storm and his wife are also original co-owners of Mother Bear’s Pizza and Bear’s Place, an ale house near Mother Bear’s.
He said the city nicknamed the street “Restaurant Row” after it became a magnet for restaurants.
“I say this very modestly, but there’s a certain amount of pride when I see it,” Storm said.
Some of his friends jokingly refer to him as “the mayor of Fourth Street,” Storm said.
“We changed the whole character of Fourth Street,” he said.