Italian restaurant in Wittenberg neighborhood announces opening date, new additions

Eatly, located at 601 N. Fountain Ave., is adding an after-hours botanical lounge.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Eatly, an Italian restaurant in the Wittenberg University neighborhood in Springfield, is reopening Friday, April 21, with new additions, including an after-hours botanical lounge.

Owner Tom Thompson opened the restaurant at 601 N. Fountain Ave. in July 2021. The restaurant’s name, Eatly, is a play on the country name of Italy and his family’s roots. He said he loves the creativeness of being able to cook from his Italian heritage and honoring his grandmother through the use of her recipes.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Thompson said the restaurant opened in July last year and closed to the general public after Thanksgiving. The restaurant is seasonal as all the food is prepped and cooked outdoors.

This year the restaurant is reopening Friday, April 21. Thompson said guests can expect quite a bit of new food including appetizers, entrees and pizzas. Some of the new dishes joining the menu are Italian pork sliders, Italian nachos, rigatoni alla vodka and chicken piccata. Something else new, will be the Italian-style desserts. The desserts will now be prepared as individual portions, Thompson said.

Eatly will be adding a carryout and boxed lunch program called, “Lil Eatly.” This is expected to start in May, followed by the addition of more days of operation after Memorial Day. Thompson said they will be adding a couple more days other than 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. He also said Sunday brunch will come back after Memorial Day as well.

Thompson is very passionate about the Italian culture, food and lifestyle. He said since he’s not living there his restaurant makes him feel a part of it and he enjoys sharing it with others.

A new experience Thompson said he is adding to the restaurant is an after-hours botanical lounge that is expected to open after Memorial Day. He said The Pour Houz will open Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as Sunday afternoons, for music, videos, games, competitions and botanical drinks.

This new concept is “happening in bigger cities and it is taking off,” Thompson said. “I haven’t gone anywhere since the pandemic had started, so I miss traveling and going to types of venues like this, and I thought that Springfield needed something (like this) especially with college kids near by.”

Thompson said botanical drinks, non-alcoholic drinks using herbs, tea and root extracts and natural fruits and juices, have always been on the menu, but this will allow him to expand to about eight varieties.

“We come up with mocktails that heighten your senses while calming your mind,” Thompson said.

Customers will be able to order based on energy levels and can choose between uplifting or Zen to be infused into their flavor, he explained. He said the botanical drinks are a way for people to have a clean and exciting drink.

Thompson described the restaurant as a “getaway.”

“This is a great place to have good food (and) for people to come and start interacting with people again in an environment where people are happy, positive and just generally want to have a good time,” Thompson said.

This year the restaurant will be able to seat 55 guests outdoors as well as accommodate large parties up to 20 people indoors.

Thompson noted one last change. The menu will reflect the prices as if a guest were to pay with credit card. If the guest chooses to pay with cash they will get a $1 off each appetizer, entrée, pizza and botanical drink on their ticket.

Reservations will still be required. Thompson said people typically call him a day in advance for reservations, but that doesn’t mean people will not be able to get in the day of. For more information and updates, visit Eatly’s Facebook page.

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