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Bru, Mesh owner planning third eatery in Mass Ave neighborhood

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Massachusetts Avenue has been so good to local restaurateur Mike Cunningham that he’s planning to open a third eatery in the trendy downtown Indianapolis neighborhood.

Cunningham, 50, launched the upscale Mesh in 2010 and the casual Bru Burger Bar the following year. He now is planning a concept he describes as a “new American diner” for a building just a few blocks from Mass Ave.

REW 0326 trowel trades cunningham 15colThis building, at 620 N. East St., would house Mike Cunningham's third Mass Ave-area restaurant. (IBJ Photo/Perry Reichanadter)

The Cincinnati native, who heads the 11-restaurant Cunningham Restaurant Group, has signed a letter of intent to buy the brick, one-story structure at 620 N. East St.

The building, which was constructed in 1950, is listed for $995,000 by McClure Commercial & Industrial Real Estate. It is owned and occupied by the Bricklayers Masons & Tile Setters Union, which would relocate.

Cunningham declined to divulge the sale price for the property, which includes 50 parking spaces.

If all goes as planned, Cunningham will have the as-yet-unnamed restaurant open in October.

“It’s a new concept for us,” he said. “We like Mass Ave; we have two restaurants down here, and they do really well.”

Steve Delaney, a restaurant expert at the locally based Sitehawk Real Estate brokerage, is confident Cunningham’s new creation would be as successful as his other endeavors.

“Mike, as a restaurateur, is one of the more successful operators in Indianapolis,” he said. “He chooses very good locations, and they’re well run.”

The menu would consist of what Cunningham calls American comfort food priced from $6 to $20 but prepared with a “chef’s upgrade."

Completing the purchase of the 6,800-square-foot building hinges on Cunningham's securing rezoning and a variance allowing the sale of alcohol. The variance is necessary because the building sits within 100 feet of a church.

The Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled to consider Cunningham's plans April 3.

Cunningham's restaurant empire began in the suburbs, but he's become such a believer in the downtown area that his company this month relocated its nine- person headquarters from Avon to Fulton Street, just east of the Mass Ave corridor. He spent $1 million renovating the vacant building for Cunningham Restaurant Group's offices.

Cunningham said the central location offered easier access to the company's restaurants. Cunningham Restaurant Group is occupying 6,400 square feet on the first foor that used to house a printing ink factory. The building’s second-story is being redeveloped into a condominium.

Cunningham Restaurant Group has four Stone Creek Dining restaurants in the Indianapolis area—in Greenwood, Noblesville, Plainfield and Zionsville—and two in the Cincinnati area. The company also operates a Boulder Creek Dining Co. in Brownsburg, a Charbonos in Avon, and a Moerlein Lager House in Cincinnati in partnership with the Christian Moerlein Brewing Co.

The company plans to open a Bru in Lexington, Ky.,, this year and a Mesh in Cincinnati in 2014.
 

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  • eating crow
    well it look's like i commented to soon. we did get paid but only negotiated sum. like mr. cunningham pointed out, there's always two sides to a story. I may be eating crow for commenting BUT i'm still NOT eating at MESH!
  • Bru burger is a joke
    Service is horrible and the place is way overpriced. Punch is waaaay better than this place
  • BRU
    I ate at BRU on Saturday and my burger was sopping wet as well. The quality had declined DRAMATICALLY!
  • Seriously...?
    "Trendy"? I'm not sure which is worse, using that word for Mass Ave or using it, period.
  • doesn't pay his bill
    to all engineering firm's! don't work on anything this owner does! he's never payed his bill for mesh. didn't feel he needed to
    • Improve the first 2...
      Having recently eaten at both Mesh and Bru, I would encourage Cunningham to shore up the leaks in his first two Mass Ave ventures. Service has declined dramatically, and the food isn't far behind. Last night's Bru sandwich was so sopping wet, that the point of a bun was lost. And, rather than bringing our salads first, everything arrived at once. So, before you open something new, polish the first two!

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    1. This is still my favorite Mexican restaurant in town. What I do love about the new version is it is much quieter than the most recent version. TV's were off, the music wasn't too loud, and the wait staff were not hyperactive like they had been the past few times I had been there. I just wish they would bring back the MOLE for the enchiladas!

    2. Not a bad paper. There is a need for local community news and city government issues. Don't really need the owner's constant national political rants. We all know where they stand by now.

    3. What nice people. Menard should've known better than to team up with the guy who robbed and drove Conseco to ashes. I'm surprised Timothy Durham isn't involved in this.

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