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INSIDE DISH: New partners boost sales at Pure

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Inside Dish

Welcome back to IBJ’s video feature “Inside Dish: The Business of Running Restaurants.”

Our subject this week is Pure Eatery, the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Jon and Amy Andrus. As the name suggests, the couple envisioned a casual restaurant that featured handmade food with a minimum of processing, preservatives and the like. What they didn’t expect is that they would reluctantly pass the keys to a family member and a friend less than two years after opening.



“I’ve heard many times, but I’ve never really experienced it to understand how true it is, that a business is like a baby,” said Jason Jacobi, who along with Jon’s brother, Dave, became co-owners and took over day-to-day management of Pure early this year.

“It really is like a baby—with the attention you have to give it, getting it from infancy to getting it to where it can walk on its own,” said Jacobi, 34. “And so I think Amy, especially, felt like it was her baby, and she saw that we were going to keep a lot of the stuff [they started], and take it where she wanted to go.”

That’s a pretty far piece from where Pure began. Amy and Jon opened the restaurant in June 2010 in the heart of Fountain Square. They concentrated on breakfast and lunch, operating between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. in a cavernous and angular space carved out of the interior of the Murphy Arts Center at 1043 Virginia Ave.

Openness and transparency were the orders of the day. Patrons would walk to a counter at the back wall, request their food, and then watch it being prepared just over the counter before taking their dishes to tables. Popular early morning items included breakfast tacos; soups, salads and sandwiches dominated the lunch menu.

Long poised as the city’s next breakout entertainment district, Fountain Square provided Pure a few growing pains. The Indianapolis Cultural Trail project was taking shape right outside its front door, and for many months in 2011 the street and sidewalks were all but impassable due to construction.

The complications mounted. Amy gave birth to a baby girl in September 2011, and Jon decided to enlist in the Navy Reserve to take advantage of the health-care benefits, said Dave Andrus, also owner of downtown’s Pearl Street Pizzeria & Pub.

That meant Jon would spend nine months away from home for training. Amy decided to relocate to South Carolina to be closer to family, leaving Pure’s next phase to Dave and Jacobi.

“We loved what they were doing,” said Jacobi, a veteran of downtown eateries The Pub Indianapolis and O’Reilly’s Irish Bar & Restaurant. “We had a couple different avenues we wanted to take, but for the most part, we liked their concept and wanted to move it forward.”

Pardon the extended metaphor, but Pure hit puberty in a hurry. Jacobi and Andrus built a bar inside the space, taking advantage of a three-way liquor license Pure purchased in late 2011. They ditched breakfast service and instead extended the eatery’s hours until 3 a.m., in a move calculated to court local restaurant employees looking for a post-shift nip and nosh. They hired a wait staff and beefed up the menu, adding appetizers, dinner entrees and desserts.

Sales experienced a near-instantaneous growth spurt. During a disappointing February, Pure’s gross sales barely topped $7,000. It closed in March for a $30,000 renovation, which included adding the bar, walling off the kitchen, and further segmenting the dining space to make it feel more intimate. In its first full month back in business—and now under the management of Jacobi and Dave Andrus—Pure posted gross sales of $16,500.

Sales for June zoomed to $27,600, as the late-night hours and expanded menu took hold. Receipts have ticked a bit higher in the months since, but remain near $30,000.

“That’s the magic number,” Jacobi said of Pure’s approximate break-even point. “If we can get up to $30,000, that’s when good stuff starts to happen.”

Pure expends a higher-than-usual amount for its food—about $11,000 to $12,000 per month, or about 40 percent of its total expenses. Table-service restaurants typically keep food costs around 30 to 35 percent.

Dedicated to buying produce and artisanal items from Indiana-based suppliers, Pure is unable to reap the cost-saving benefits of buying in bulk. “We don’t want to get away from [high-quality items], because that’s why people are coming,” Jacobi said.

In the video at top, Jacobi details the transformation of Pure since taking over management and the reasoning behind the changes.
 

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Pure Eatery
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1043 Virginia Ave.
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(317) 602-5724
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www.pureeatery.com
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Concept: Locally sourced and preservative-free food, including vegetarian and vegan options, with a full bar that is open daily until 3 a.m.
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Founded: June 2010
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Owners: Husband-and-wife Jon and Amy Andrus; Jon's brother, Dave Andrus; and friend Jason Jacobi, who also is the general manager.
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Renovation and refurbishing (March 2012): $30,000
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Gross sales: $169,000 (Jan. 1-Oct. 2, 2012)
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Seating: 79
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Employees: 16
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Goals: Improve HVAC circulation in the restaurant; and add soundproofing to soften the acoustics.
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  1. If I were a developer I would be looking at the Fountain Square and Fletcher Place neighborhoods instead of Broad Ripple. I would avoid the dysfunctional BRVA with all of their headaches. It's like deciding between a Blackberry or an iPhone 5s smartphone. BR is greatly in need of updates. It has become stale and outdated. Whereas Fountain Square, Fletcher Place and Mass Ave have become the "new" Broad Ripples. Every time I see people on the strip in BR on the weekend I want to ask them, "How is it you are not familiar with Fountain Square or Mass Ave? You have choices and you choose BR?" Long vacant storefronts like the old Scholar's Inn Bake House and ZA, both on prominent corners, hurt the village's image. Many business on the strip could use updated facades. Cigarette butt covered sidewalks and graffiti covered walls don't help either. The whole strip just looks like it needs to be power washed. I know there is more to the BRV than the 700-1100 blocks of Broad Ripple Ave, but that is what people see when they think of BR. It will always be a nice place live, but is quickly becoming a not-so-nice place to visit.

  2. I sure hope so and would gladly join a law suit against them. They flat out rob people and their little punk scam artist telephone losers actually enjoy it. I would love to run into one of them some day!!

  3. Biggest scam ever!! Took 307 out of my bank ac count. Never received a single call! They prey on new small business and flat out rob them! Do not sign up with these thieves. I filed a complaint with the ftc. I suggest doing the same ic they robbed you too.

  4. Woohoo! We're #200!!! Absolutely disgusting. Bring on the congestion. Indianapolis NEEDS it.

  5. So Westfield invested about $30M in developing Grand Park and attendance to date is good enough that local hotel can't meet the demand. Carmel invested $180M in the Palladium - which generates zero hotel demand for its casino acts. Which Mayor made the better decision?

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