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INSIDE DISH: Harried chef at R bistro tries to keep it fresh

April 9, 2010
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Welcome to the first installment of IBJ’s new video feature, “Inside Dish: The Business of Running Restaurants.”

Every week, we’ll profile a central Indiana eatery and explore the specific financial and personal challenges faced by the restaurateur. We’ll also focus on a particular specialty or quirk that helps sets the spot apart in the mushrooming marketplace of local restaurants.

Our first subject is R bistro, the highly decorated chef-owned oasis of contemporary American cuisine on the far end of downtown’s Massachusetts Ave corridor.

The restaurant that focuses on Indiana-produced ingredients is the fruit of a gutsy career change for chef and co-owner Regina Mehallick. She managed medical offices for 15 years before deciding to attend culinary school at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, S.C.

Accompanying her engineer husband, Jim, overseas, she worked in kitchens across Europe, including eateries in England, Scotland and Italy. Settling in Indiana in 2000, the Mehallicks melded some seed money with a small-business loan to create R bistro, focusing on seasonal dishes with locally sourced ingredients. It has resulted in regional repute for Regina Mehallick, capped this year with a semifinalist nod for Best Chef in the James Beard Foundation Awards.



One of Mehallick’s missions is culinary creativity, which she exercises by creating a new menu every week in consultation with her staff chefs Erin Kem and Micah Frank–usually in the kitchen as they prepare the current week’s fare. In the video below, they demonstrate their brainstorming skills.



More Dish: Notes from the back of the napkin

Restaurant: R bistro
Concept: A new menu developed every week featuring contemporary American cuisine using seasonal ingredients sourced from local and regional suppliers.
Location: 888 Massachusetts Ave.
Phone: 317-423-0312
Web site: www.rbistro.com
Founded: 2001
Owner(s): Regina and Jim Mehallick
Executive chef: Regina Mehallick
Employees: 16
Seating: 17 tables, 56 seats (including bar)
Initial start-up investment: $250,000
Revenue (2009):  $650,000
Goal: To increase lunch traffic, although restaurant is just beyond walking distance for most downtown office workers.
Good to know: Chef Regina Mehallick was a 2010 semifinalist for the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards in the category of Best Chef: Great Lakes Region; she also has published a cookbook, “Regina’s Seasonal Table.”

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