Yogi’s Bar & Grill, Bloomington’s home of Dyngus Day celebrations and chicken velvet soup, is reopening Monday in a new location at 302 N. Walnut St.
After Yogi’s original location on 10th Street and Indiana Avenue was bought out by IU in 2017, Finney Hospitality Group purchased its naming rights. When Scotty’s Brewhouse closed this past July, Finney saw an opportunity to renovate that space and revive Yogi’s after two years of hiatus.
Mary Ann Lapenta, a director at Finney Hospitality Group, which owns several major restaurants in Bloomington including The Tap, Social Cantina and SmokeWorks, said the new iteration recreates the atmosphere of the original Yogi’s within some alterations.
“We’re calling it Yogi’s 2.0,” Lapenta said. “We’ve added some pretty fun modern touches just to keep it interesting, but we really wanted to keep the spirit of Yogi’s.”
Yogi’s closure marked the end of 25 years in Bloomington, making it a staple of the community for many local residents. Lapenta said a major goal of the new location was to maintain traditions that had become an important part of Bloomington culture.
“There’s such a deep-seated love for Yogi’s in this community,” Lapenta said. “They’re excited to relive memories. We’ve had a couple people even who have come to visit who said they had their first date at Yogi’s.”
Lapenta said the most challenging and exciting part of the renovation was the community’s high expectations for Yogi’s new atmosphere and menu.
“People are really excited, and also in their excitement, they’re sure to give us some tips on what we should maintain from the old Yogi’s menu to kind of hang onto that nostalgia,” Lapenta said. “There’s a lot of community support and excitement and anticipation. It’s a gift to have that for sure.”
Jenny Norris and Lisa Hensley, who attended the new Yogi’s soft open on Saturday and often went to the old location, said they are glad to see the restaurant’s return.
“I like the atmosphere in here better than the old one,” Hensley said. “I just think it’s brighter.”
Norris said Yogi’s will fill a gap in Bloomington’s restaurant scene, providing a solid option for good pub food that is friendly to all ages.
“When you look at downtown food-wise, as far as pub food with a variety, I think it’s going to do great because it’s kind of limited here,” Norris said.
Norris also said she is glad the new Yogi’s will bring back traditions and menu items from the old location that created memories for many locals. Norris said one she remembers well is Dyngus Day, a Polish holiday Yogi’s always celebrates the Monday after Easter.
“You dress up funny, they play polka music, there’s polka dancers, and you do this contest where a T-shirt’s frozen and you have to untangle it,” Norris said. “It was always our place to go.”
Senior Sophia Clampitt said she worked for several years at the old Yogi’s as a hostess and food runner.
“Some of my favorite memories working at Yogi’s were during football and basketball games, because all of the foot traffic coming and going from the football games or basketball games was so fun,” Clampitt said. “I hope that for the upcoming games that they really have that same atmosphere of it being a sports bar. I also hope they bring back some of the iconic dishes that they had.”
Clampitt said she is excited about Yogi’s more central location and she definitely plans to go after it opens.
“I think what’s special about Yogi’s is the community that was there,” Clampitt said. “It really did form a Yogi’s family.”