Changes on the way for homestyle Italian restaurant in Wittenberg neighborhood

Updates being made at Eatly to offer more space and coverage for outdoor seating.

Updates and renovation are underway for Eatly, a new Italian restaurant in the Wittenberg University neighborhood.

The restaurant’s name, Eatly, is a play on the country name of Italy and his family’s roots, said owner Tom Thompson. The restaurant opened at 601 N. Fountain Ave. on July 23.

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Four years ago, he moved to the Springfield-area to be near his aging parents. He said his mother’s Italian heritage inspired his latest restaurant venture.

“My background on my mom’s side is from Italy,” he said, “and I just have a passion for Italy. I love it. I’m in the process of applying for dual citizenship. I’m an American citizen, but I travel back and forth to Italy every year since 2011, when I started tracing my family back.

Since opening, the restaurant’s popularity has increased at the small facility, resulting in a need for expansion and bigger space.

“We had eight tables outside originally, but the community has just really taken on being a huge support, which is amazing, and we kind of need to grow in order to keeping using that space,” said Thompson.

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Aside from running out of space, some are concerned for the restaurant possibly needing to close temporarily during the upcoming winter months, as the location specializes in outdoor seating.

“Currently we’ve put up some coverage for the outdoor seats, we’re ready with heaters and such, that will be used when it gets colder, should people want to still sit outside during the winter. This will still help especially people are worried about COVID and such,” he said.

Local artists who painted a large mural featured in the outdoor seating area will be helping with the renovation and redesigning process for the restaurant.

“We will be pushing that back to the other half of the building, which will allow us to block off space inside for Eatly to be moved indoors where people can sit during the winter months. It’ll still keep the European feel, kind of vintage with a twist of modern. The shed, when it’s finished will be like a little place to sit and have coffee, called the Pourhouse, and all of the equipment we will use will be earth-friendly,” said Thompson.

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The shed will be deconstructed, and rebuilt with the same structure, with more of a greenhouse-style build. In addition, a local farmer who has been supplying Thompson’s family fresh produce, will help Eatly to have its own supply of fresh vegetables and fruit for the restaurant’s supply.

Renovation and construction began last week.

“This is all based on all of us going through COVID-19, with everything being centered more outdoors, this is pretty much what this is about too,” Thompson previously told the News-Sun. “It’s all outdoors. Food is prepared outdoors, and it’s kind of a setting like you’d see in a cafe in Italy. We also believe in green, so we’re definitely going to be recycling (materials) a lot.”

For more information, visit the Eatly page on Facebook.