Bloomington chef and restaurant co-owner killed in Mitchell accident

BLOOMINGTON – The executive chef and part owner of the soon-to-open 21 North Cellar and Eatery in Bloomington died from injuries suffered in a traffic accident in Mitchell on Valentine’s Day.

Matthew Micheal Harakal III

The restaurant was scheduled to celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, Feb. 17, but was postponed due to Matthew Micheal Harakal III’s sudden and unexpected death.

In a Facebook post, “We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. We are working diligently to ensure that when we do open our doors, it will be an experience worth the wait.”

Harakal, 53, of Paoli, was injured in a two-vehicle crash just after 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, at the intersection of Ind. 37 and Spice Valley Road.

Harakal was driving a Toyota Highlander SUV. The other vehicle, a 15-passenger Mitchell Community Schools bus with no passengers aboard, was operated by Bill Luttrell.

Photo by Bill Raines

Both men were transported by AirEvac helicopters to the University of Louisville Hospital, where Harakal died from his injuries. Luttrell’s condition wasn’t available.

According to a Mitchell Police Department report, a witness driving on Ind. 37 behind Harakal reported the bus crossed Ind. 37 in the path of the SUV, causing the SUV to strike the middle of the bus on the driver’s side.

Mitchell Police Department officers, Mitchell Fire Department first responders, officials from Mitchell Community Schools, Marion Township Volunteer Fire Department, Lawrence County Sheriffs Department deputies, two IU Lifeline ambulance crews, and Indiana State Police troopers responded.

Harakal has been in the food industry for roughly 30 years and has served as a chef in many locations around the nation’s East Coast.

According to a post on X, Chef Harakal’s journey in Bloomington was marked by his unwavering commitment to excellence and his passion for crafting unforgettable dining experiences.

As the proprietor of 21 North Cellar and Eatery in Martinsville, which opened in 2017, he captivated diners with his innovative dishes and warm hospitality. His culinary prowess knew no bounds, and his creations truly reflected his artistry and dedication to his craft. Beyond his culinary talents, Chef Harakal was a pillar of kindness and generosity in our community. His warmth, compassion, and infectious enthusiasm for his work touched the lives of all who knew him. His legacy extends far beyond the kitchen, leaving an indelible impact on all who crossed his path.

He loved and excelled at cooking, food, music, and spending time with his family and fur babies.

It was Harakal’s wish to be cremated with a celebration of life at a later date. Cremation was entrusted to Newcomer Cremations Funeral and Receptions.

The family requests that contributions in his memory be made to The Humane Society of the United States or The Middle Way House of Bloomington.