Aaron and Kendra (Ellington) Nafziger
Aaron Nafziger joked with his family about buying Constant Spring, a bar at 219 S. Main St., Goshen.
But then he made it happen.
Owner Jason Oswald announced on Monday, June 10, that he was selling the bar he started just over seven years ago. It caught a lot of people off guard. And by this time next week, he’ll be out and Nafziger will be running the place.
Nafziger said he’ll be the primary person involved. His wife, Kendra (Ellington) Nafziger is a Mary Kay representative who won’t be there as much as he is. But they’ll be in this together. That’s how the restaurant business works.
He said owning the Spring is a perfect fit because:
• He’s night owl.
• He’s passionate about food and drink and good experiences.
• In the last seven years, the Spring has become the “Cheers” like bar for his parents and others.
“I’m passionate about being part of all that,” he said Monday night.
He’s been a financial advisor for Everence, but didn’t want to keep doing that. He talked about it with his wife and family and then approached Oswald.
It turned out that Oswald was ready to do something different.
He opened the bar in March 2006 after a huge renovation. He had worked in construction. So he took a former bar that Dave Pottinger had purchased and rehabilitated it. When he opened, he went non-smoking – mostly because he didn’t have money to buy the machines that “eat” the smoke.
And that’s part of the what made the place successful. You could go there and not go home smelling like a cigarette butt. This was prior to the big discussions locally and statewide about non-smoking establishments. And suddenly people who didn’t often hang out in bars were doing so at the Spring.
Over time, Oswald built the menu to include more food, but it always, always focused on local and organic if he could. That meant you paid a little more, but he believed in buying from local farmers. The Spring is a finalist in Salad Quest, in part because of how Oswald and his staff handle and serve those great ingredients.
Oswald took a lot of crap from people. A lot of people, including me, told him how he should run his bar. Initially, he told them to open their own bar. And then he softened that and took it in stride. But he always worked hard, always tried to hire good people to help him run what became something important to the community.
sausage with pad thai salad at Constant Spring during the Taste of Downtown Goshen on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. (Truth Photo By Evey Wilson)
Nafziger didn’t want to open another place. He and his wife have been regulars and he loves the Spring. “It is the place,” he said. “I didn’t want to create that feeling somewhere else.”
He doesn’t intend to change a lot. He wants the feeling, the vibe and what it means to Goshen to stay the same. He’ll keep buying local and organic, he said. He wants to add a few appetizers and perhaps change the seating and flow a bit. But he doesn’t intend to make big changes.
“It’s not broken. I can say that,” he said.
Oswald opened the Spring after The Dembufsky closed. He saw that his friends needed a place to go. He never expected that within seven years, it would become as successful as it is. Two years ago, he bought the building from Pottinger and will remain as the landlord. He made Goshen more vibrant because of what he started, nursed and grew.
It isn’t perfect. But it is beloved by many. People are already thanking Oswald for what he did for them and Goshen. That’s not always the case with a restaurant/bar. And that sentiment will only grow over the years. I do love Constant Spring as Oswald has created it. He’s ready to do something else and I wish him well.
Nafziger, 26, is ready to take this on. He’s smart and passionate and will have the support from the community.
“It’s going to be my baby,” he said.