Southwest Indiana Chamber Collects Over A Dozen Submissions

The Southwest Indiana Chamber today announced the completion of the first phase of a unique economic development contest designed to add a new dining option in downtown Evansville.

The contest, called Evansville’s Main Course Restaurant Challenge, presented contestants with the opportunity to pitch a restaurant concept to receive a prize package valued at up to $280,176. The successful concept will be developed in the space at 330 Main Street, in the center of downtown Evansville. The building previously served as the long-time headquarters for Rogers Jewelers. The winning restaurant is to begin service no later than September 2015.

Over one dozen submissions were received by the closing date, October 15. The proposed concepts include a 24 hour diner, a chili parlor, a burger bar and a ‘speakeasy’ concept, amongst others. The submissions were received from throughout the Midwest, and were presented by both experienced and novice operators. “The breadth of ideas…their creativity, their passions; it has been exciting to read through these fantastic proposals,” said Southwest Indiana Chamber Downtown Alliance director Joshua Armstrong. “We are very pleased with the response to the challenge,” he added. Submissions are being treated confidentially until the announcement of the finalists.

The Main Course Challenge Committee will begin assessing the entries based on overall creative concept, grasp of the downtown Evansville market, and portfolio of past successes. Selected finalists will proceed to a public meeting on November 20, followed by a cook-off on November 21. The challenge winner will be announced immediately following the cook-off. Committee members include Bob Jones and Ben Shoulders from Old National Bank; Mark Samila from Kahn, Dees, Donovan & Kahn, LLP; Jon Ruthenberg from Gray Loon Marketing Group; Christy Gillenwater from the Southwest Indiana Chamber; JP Englebrecht from South Central Digital; Alan Braun from Skanska; Jeff Justice from Hafer Associates; Shance Sizemore from the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville; and Otha Warren from North Park Corporation.

The privately-funded prize package includes both cash and in-kind contributions from local and national companies and organizations, including The Gene Warren Jr. Family, Old National Bank, Hafer Associates, South Central Digital, Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc., Skanska, Tucker Publishing Group, Evansville Courier and Press, Gordon’s Food Service, Accuride, Tri-State Orthopedic, Bourbon Blog, Leadership Evansville, Kahn Dees Donovan & Kahn and Berry Plastics. Additional grants for façade improvements have been provided by the City of Evansville Department of Metropolitan Development and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

About Southwest Indiana Chamber

For nearly a century, the Southwest Indiana Chamber has been a trusted ally of the regional business community. Today, we’re one of the state’s largest, strongest, and most impactful nonprofit business organizations, representing a total membership of nearly 1,700 businesses, organizations, and agencies. About one-third of members have invested in our organization for 10 or more years. While nearly all major employers in our region are members of the Southwest Indiana Chamber, 71% of our members have fewer than 25 employees.

Learn more about the Chamber, our members, and the Southwest Indiana regional community at


  1. Looks like the chamber is going down that same road that city government is doing, throwing money down a rat hole. Downtown is like being brain dead, it is only surviving by “artificial” means.

Comments are closed.