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INSIDE DISH: Brugge Brasserie brews plans for expansion

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Inside Dish

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

Our subject this week is the Broad Ripple mainstay Brugge Brasserie, now celebrating its fifth anniversary. The brewpub's beer and continental vittles echo Belgian cuisine, but the ownership skews decidedly local. Managing partners Ted Miller and his wife, Shannon Stone, along with co-owners Eli Schloss and Abraham Benrubi, were members of Broad Ripple High School's Class of 1987.

Sales and profits have grown steadily since Brugge's first full calendar year, with big jumps in 2009 after the addition of upstairs seating. But business hasn't always been as smooth as its blond signature brew, Tripel de Ripple.

In 2007, the Brugge owners joined forces with a handful of other investors to buy a Terre Haute-based production brewery. The plan was to satisfy the growing demand for beer at Brugge in Broad Ripple, as well as to produce Brugge-brand beers for sale at retail locations and Indiana bars and restaurants. Licensing and scheduling woes delayed production for eight months, and the operation soon ran into other obstacles. The root of the problem: Miller was unable to find a suitable on-site manager or supervise the operation himself with any regularity.

In the video below, Miller details his plans for bringing the brewing operations to Indianapolis and then adding other Brugge Brasserie locations across the Midwest.



Since the eatery's opening, Miller has been pleasantly surprised by how easily Hoosiers have taken to the somewhat exotic menu with major items listed by their French names, such as moules frites, or mussels and fries. (Brugge sells some 35,000 pounds of mussels per year and an astounding 187,000 pounds of fries.) In the video below, IBJ gets to the bottom of the Belgian influence.


 

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Brugge Brasserie
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1011 E. Westfield Blvd.
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317-255-0978
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www.bruggebrasserie.com
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Concept: Brewpub with Belgian-inspired beer and cuisine, including signature items like moules frites (mussels and fries), charcuterie (cold snacks like pate, cheese and sausages) and crepes.
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Founded: April 21, 2005
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Owners: Ted Miller and his wife, Shannon Stone, managing partners;  Eli Schloss, Abraham Benrubi, Charlie Midgley and Rene Stoltz. Each owner has an equal one-sixth share of the business.
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Start-up costs: $200,000, in part covered by a $150,000 bank loan.
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Sales/Profit: $534,000/$3,750 loss (2005); $792,000/$23,500 (2006); $875,000/$21,000 (2007); $1.1 million/$76,000 (2008); $1.5 million/$165,000 (2009).
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Seating: 111 indoors, with additional seasonal seating on two outdoor patios
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Goals: To raise $1 million through a single new investor, allowing Brugge to move its production brewery operations from Terre Haute to Indianapolis and then open new Brugge locations in the Midwest. The relocated brewery also would ramp up beer production for sales at retail outlets and at bars/restaurants.
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Good to know: Owners Miller, Stone, Schloss and Benrubi all were members of Broad Ripple High School’s Class of 1987; Benrubi is an in-demand actor in Hollywood, with regular roles in such TV series as “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose,” “ER,” “Men in Trees” and the new “Happy Town.”
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  • Good News
    The frites are the best as well as the mussels. To comment on the first poster, the service is one thing, that can be changed by training or new staff. The food and beer is what the establishment is about. It won't thrive in every location, they need to research this well! I think Bloomington would be a great site.
  • Expansion?
    Brugge will thrive in any Midwestern location where its customers enjoy lousy, lazy service. The service at that establishment is by far the worst in town. It is a waste of a great location along the Monon.
  • Restaurant 1 Brewery 0
    We are huge fans of Brugge, but the beers found at liquor stores in general aren't the quality one expects. So, focus on brewery improvements. Also consider even more adventurous food offerings. And please consider bringing a Brugge to Zionsville.

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