On Jan. 31, the Valparaiso community bid farewell to a city staple as Yats closed its doors after six years of business. Located in the West Promenade complex, Yats was a popular restaurant for the Valparaiso University community during its time in operation.
Yats is a growing cajun franchise that started in Indianapolis around 15 years ago by Joe Vuskovich and his wife. Six years ago, Kevin Pedersen initiated the expansion by bringing Yats to Valparaiso and had been the owner ever since. Today, there are about 14 Yats restaurants in the United States: “...now there’s one in Ohio and I think Georgia. A lot of people are starting to buy the franchise,” Pedersen said.
The announcement that Yats was closing made through the business’ Facebook page on Jan. 27 came as a shock to many customers. “It’s really disappointing. I’ve been to Yats a couple times and I always really enjoyed the food there,” said junior Veronica Campbell.
Though it was a surprise to those outside the company, Pedersen’s plans for closure were not.
“The talks were going on for awhile… and I just decided that I gotta simplify my life,” Pedersen said.
Yats’ permanent closing happened shortly after the Jan. 8 announcement that Promenade West would be added to the 2020-2021 housing option in replace of the Uptown East apartments, however the restaurant’s closure was not related to this announcement.
The fate of the Yats space is uncertain. In an email to The Torch, University Spokesperson Nicole Niemi stated, “Valparaiso University does not own the Promenade buildings. Valpo leases certain housing units and spaces for classrooms and clinics. The owners of the Promenade property own and lease the space formerly rented to Yats as well as the BBQ restaurant.”
Pedersen states the closure is permanent.
“I’m sorry to leave but it’s just something that I’m just basically simplifying my life. It’s just overwhelming to have five businesses. After a certain age you’re like ok I need to tone it down after having a family.”
Leading up to its closure, Yats ran special deals for customers to get their final cajun fix. On Jan. 28, the restaurant had their popular Jambalaya available for the whole day. The staff also made extra Half and Half étouffées and bread for people to enjoy.
Now the space lies empty, and people can only reflect on what Yats was.
“There aren’t a lot of restaurants of that style, especially not near campus so it was fun to have that nearby,” Campbell said.
Only time will tell what becomes of the former restaurant.