–by Jennifer Ruple

Executive Chef Chris Nixon is proud to offer customers two types of dining experiences. Element 112 offers fine dining, and his second restaurant, Next Door 112, offers a casual, relaxed atmosphere.

Element 112, known for its innovative and elegant cuisine, is now offering a different type of dining experience at its sister restaurant, Next Door 112. Located in the former banquet area within the Element building, 5735 N. Main St., the new eatery opened its doors on November 24 and offers diners a casual food menu in a laid-back atmosphere.

The idea to create the new dining space came to Executive Chef Chris Nixon when he chose to incorporate a few casual items into Element’s menu available at the bar. “The burger was really popular, so we thought we’d investigate the concept further. We didn’t want the casual items to invade our fine dining side though, so we created a separate restaurant,” he said. Each restaurant has its own management team, staff, kitchen, prep areas, and entrance. “The flow works out better that way.”

“Having two restaurants gives me two creative outlets, and that’s what I love. I love making food, and I love to watch people enjoy it,” said Nixon. “Mac and cheese won’t sell at Element, and roasted elk won’t sell at Next Door,” he added.

Nixon wants Next Door to be known as a relaxed, come-as-you-are atmosphere. “I want people to walk in, have a nice bite to eat, enjoy each other’s company, and just relax. Everything is under $20 except for one item,” he said. Nixon mentioned that he wants Element to remain a place for a special night out. “We want it to be a wow restaurant.”

The space that Next Door occupies is no longer available for rentals; however, Element will still accommodate parties along with a smaller, intimate space called The Kitchen Table. Both areas are available to rent for special occasions.

Next Door’s menu is divided into several sections. There are main entrees including roasted fish, roasted chicken, and rib eye steak; three burger options; two fish sandwiches; appetizers; desserts; plus a special menu for kids. “My favorite thing is the bacon and blue burger – it’s ridiculous,” laughed Nixon. “We cure and cook the bacon here and slice it ridiculously thick. It’s been extremely popular.” Nixon also mentioned the roasted brussels sprouts. “They are so popular; they’ve practically built the restaurant.”

In terms of Nixon’s favorite dessert, he prefers the Lemon Meringue Pie. “Lemon meringue pie is underrated, but we spend a lot of time on it. We whip meringue every day just for it.”

Next Door and its bar area are currently open Monday through Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m. Carryout is also available. Nixon plans to add Sundays and lunch service this spring.