The Owlery has been providing IU students and Bloomington residents with vegan and vegetarian meals since they opened their doors in 2011. Due to COVID-19 safety concerns and uncertainties, the restaurant closed indefinitely in March. The current owners announced Aug. 22 The Owlery will soon reopen under new ownership.
The Owlery now offers lunch carry-out Monday through Saturdayand will offer carry-out brunch options on Sundays. The Toby Foster and Ryan Woods, the current owners, will continue to manage The Owlery for the foreseeable future and help the new owners transition into their role.Foster and Woods also want to expand outdoor seating, menu options and hours during this time.
Foster and Woods are confident that loyal customers have nothing to fear when it comes to potential changes and the future of The Owlery.
“We wanted to try and find someone who wanted to see the business continue as a vegetarian restaurant and rebuild it and help it grow into something bigger and better in the future, Foster said. "We realized we weren’t those people, and luckily we found a buyer who wants to do that.”
Foster said before the financial hardships of the pandemic, The Owlery needed some expensive renovations in order to keep operating as it was.
“Even before the pandemic, we had been thinking that this might be the year that it was time for us to move on," Foster said.
The Owlery continued to update its Facebook page during the shutdown and assured customers there were plans to eventually reopen. They explained the logic behind their decision to remain closed, citing the high amount of contact with people and products needed to run the restaurant. These issues made it impossible for employees to do their jobs safely.
“After several months of being closed, we started to realize that it was going to be pretty difficult to make it financially viable to reopen, plus we were just pretty emotionally drained,” Foster said.
The restaurant announced the decision to remain closed on May 14, despite the state's COVID-19 safety guidelines relaxing by that time.
“While I was sad that they were closing, I also appreciate the fact that they were making a decision that was best for them and their situation,” customer Sara Skrabalak said.
The Owlery has consistently provided customers with a variety of alternative food options for those with dietary restrictions and allergies.
“They just understand all these dietary restrictions too so you don’t have to explain. They have already in place modifications for people.” Skrabalak said.
According to comments left on The Owlery's Facebook page, many customers missed the food while they were closed through the summer.
“I was a little bummed when I heard that they weren’t going to be open, customer Mason Greenberg said. Just because, you know, I’m a big fan of their presence in Bloomington.”
When asked about the change in ownership, Greenberg and Skrabalak were excited to see The Owlery return. They said they were hopeful that the new owners would keep the food, staff and environment that makes The Owlery special.
“I hope that ensures the continuity of their business and maybe they’ll be able to make some positive changes,” Greenberg said.
While there are currently no immediate plans for The Owlery to open dine-in options anytime soon, customers can expect to find vegan and vegetarian meals and sweet treats when they visit The Owlery to pick up their meals.