Photographer / Glenda White
A new chapter has been added to the story of long-time Noblesville fixture Sunrise Cafe at Uptown, previously known to locals over the years as the Uptown Cafe.
In early July, owner Jonathon Smith completed an expansion of the eatery, which opened back in 1932 and became a breakfast mainstay in the community. His goal in expanding was to build on the welcoming atmosphere locals have come to appreciate about the spot, while injecting some fresh, new features into his overall culinary concept.
“It’s great to be able to offer more seating and add new space to such a historic destination for the community,” Smith says.
When the space next to the cafe formerly occupied by a law office became available last year, Smith jumped on the opportunity to expand his seating capacity, which has increased from 36 to 55, with approximately 700 square feet of new dining area. Along with additional seating, Smith decided to add a stainless steel counter and worn barstools, which he felt would mirror the history of the original cafe space.
Smith also acquired a three-way liquor license allowing him to offer beer, wine and hand-crafted cocktails with fresh-squeezed juices and house-made ingredients.
“The expansion allows me to use the new space as a dining room with a bar,” Smith explains. “We’re still going to be 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day, but from Monday through Friday from 2 to 7 we’re going to be doing a happy-hour concept with snacks and appetizers that will be complimentary for anyone who orders a drink.”
Sunrise Cafe at Uptown’s food menu includes classics like eggs Benedict, hotcakes and biscuits with sausage gravy, as well as breakfast bowls, burritos, specialty omelets and more.
“Our baked items have taken off too, and we have a great pastry chef Brooke Smith who does English muffins, bagels and cinnamon rolls,” Smith adds. “We can do breakfast and lunch caterings, with office parties and stuff like that if you want pastries and coffee or a full-fledged breakfast.”
While Smith became co-owner of the eatery in 2013 and sole owner two years later, his involvement in the restaurant business goes back much further. He went to work as a high schooler at the Sunrise Cafe in Carmel under the tutelage of owners Scott and Jim Horsfield more than 20 years ago.
“When I was 16, my dad said if I wanted a car I needed a job, so I went to work at the Sunrise Cafe,” Smith recalls. “I worked at both Sunrise locations and helped Scott grow the Fishers location. So having grown up and trained underneath the Horsfields, when I had the opportunity to buy the place here in Noblesville, I wanted to try to take it to the next level.”
Smith felt it was crucial to avoid changes to the existing restaurant while expanding into the adjacent space and brought on MacInnis Construction, another Noblesville business, to do the build-out and some of the new space’s design.
“One thing that scared me about the project was the question of how you add onto a room that has so much history,” he says. “I’ve met ladies in their 80s and 90s here who used to be servers here back in their 20s. There are so many cool things like that that connect the community to this building — that kept me motivated to do it right and add to the history and tradition of the original Uptown.”
Ultimately, Smith views completion of the project as an enhancement of a historic local destination, rather than a mere increase of customer capacity.
“I grew up in the industry, not many people can say they have the same job they had since high school,” Smith says. “The Uptown Cafe has been an institution in Noblesville, and it felt right to take over with the experience I’ve gained since I was 16. I’m trying to live up to the name and the tradition and make Noblesville proud.”
Sunrise Cafe at Uptown is located at 809 Conner Street in Noblesville. Call 317-214-7553 or visit scuptown.com for additional info and to view a complete menu.