2014 Forty Under 40: Micah Frank

Lou Harry
February 1, 2014
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frank_micah_1col.jpg (IBJ Photo/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Education: Initially, Frank’s focus was on landscape architecture. “I appreciate good architecture,” he said, “but I knew in my fourth year at Ball State that I didn’t want to work in an office. I thought the kitchen was a more creative place for me.” Early stints include work at the Hayloft, housed in a barn in Plymouth.

Farm fresh: “I didn’t grow up on a farm, but my grandparents did, so I always remember those farm-cooked meals. I still gravitate toward comfort food.”

European tour: After college, Frank traveled to Europe, with stops in Spain, France and Italy, eventually working at St. John Restaurant in London. “My goal was to get into my favorite restaurant and that was my favorite.” He worked for free with the goal of gaining experience before coming back to the U.S.

Developing a culinary esthetic: “I’ve been fortunate,” Frank said. “I was lucky to work under Tony Hanslits, Regina Mehallick and Greg Hardesty. They all have my philosophy of keeping good-quality ingredients and not overdoing it when cooking them.” While you always have the competitive side of people, he added, overall the people he has worked with in the independent restaurant scene have been supportive. “They want to see Indianapolis grow and, right now, Indianapolis is experiencing a sort of renaissance and it will continue to get better.”

AGE 39
Hometown: Plymouth

Family: single

Working down the block from former employer R Bistro: “The space itself was the perfect size for what I wanted to do. It’s pretty much about timing, though. It was a video store and, obviously, didn’t make it.”

Avoiding burnout: For many restaurateurs, shifting mental gears from creatively launching to sustaining poses a big challenge. “For Black Market,” Frank said, “I’m very lucky to be able to have the creative freedom to do what I want with the food. We keep things changing all the time.”

Friends don’t let friends eat free: “A lot of businesses fail because [the owners] give out free food and drinks all the time,” Frank said. “If we were all millionaires, we could do that. But we’re not. Luckily, my friends and family come to Black Market for good-tasting food and drinks and great service. They don’t expect free.”•


  • Black Market Peanut Butter
    Frank, I have been to Black Market. One of the best items you have is that Peanut Butter that goes with the pickels. If you really want to make it big, put a private label on it and start selling it by the jar. Your server would not sell me any and was rather rude about it. I won't go there just to buy the pickels but if you start selling jars of the peanut butter, I just might become a regular.

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  1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

  2. My responses to some of the comments would include the following: 1. Our offer which included the forgiveness of debt (this is an immediate forgiveness and is not "spread over many years")represents debt that due to a reduction of interest rates in the economy arguably represents consideration together with the cash component of our offer that exceeds the $2.1 million apparently offered by another party. 2. The previous $2.1 million cash offer that was turned down by the CRC would have netted the CRC substantially less than $2.1 million. As a result even in hindsight the CRC was wise in turning down that offer. 3. With regard to "concerned Carmelite's" discussion of the previous financing Pedcor gave up $16.5 million in City debt in addition to the conveyance of the garage (appraised at $13 million)in exchange for the $22.5 million cash and debt obligations. The local media never discussed the $16.5 million in debt that we gave up which would show that we gave $29.5 million in value for the $23.5 million. 4.Pedcor would have been much happier if Brian was still operating his Deli and only made this offer as we believe that we can redevelop the building into something that will be better for the City and City Center where both Pedcor the citizens of Carmel have a large investment. Bruce Cordingley, President, Pedcor

  3. I've been looking for news on Corner Bakery, too, but there doesn't seem to be any info out there. I prefer them over Panera and Paradise so can't wait to see where they'll be!

  4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

  5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim