BLOOMINGTON — "Two free-spirited and wine lovin' gals, one from the south and one from the heart of Illinois, walk in to a bar ... and buy it."
That's how Chelsea Heffernan and Terrie Vanderlugt described on social media their decision to buy the former Satio at Center and Jefferson streets, renaming it The Mystic Kitchen and Tasting Room.
They had no idea that opening a business would get off to a bumpy start.
An initial plan to name the restaurant The Gypsy Room prompted Ward 6 Alderwoman Jenn Carrillo to call for a boycott because "gypsy" was a term, she said, that Nazis used to justify the genocide of over a half a million people in the Holocaust.
Carrillo drew fire during a closed, private meeting June 11 with other downtown business owners who were upset with her for leading an online campaign against a new business. Carrillo later apologized.
"It was definitely a difficult time for us because by no means would we want to start off in a negative way with our business," said Heffernan. "But the support we got was overwhelming, and we are coming out, I think, in a really positive way."
The Bloomington Liquor Commission Tuesday recommended the City Council approve the establishment's request for a liquor license.
"I can say we are thrilled that we came to downtown Bloomington," said Heffernan. "To just be around that community and have those people surround us with all of the love has solidified our decision that this is the right place for us."
The business will open in early September with a "funky, bohemian lounge" environment. The wine and spirits tasting room will be overseen by Vanderlugt, who has 17 years in wine sales, Vanderlugt and Heffernan said.
"It's an opportunity to taste things that you may not have tried," said Vanderlugt. "We want to have ... an opportunity to educate people and bring them into wines and areas that they might not be familiar with previously."
Lunch will focus on small plates of sandwiches, appetizers, salads and soups that also will be offered at dinner along with a small list of entrees, said Heffernan.
"We want the menu to be focused and fun and stay a little bit on the healthy side," said Heffernan. "We don't just want to be a beverage destination. We hope people can feel comfortable staying and having a meal here."
Beer and cocktail selections will range from $4 to $12; a wine list ranges from $6 to $15. Lunch will be $8 to $12 and with dinner entrees from $10 to $16.
Hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The co-owners plan to employ 10 to 15 people.