INSIDE DISH: Entrepreneur eschews MBA, opens French cafe

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Inside Dish

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

Our subject for this installment is La Mie Emilie, a French cafe opened on Aug. 7, 2009, in the Carmel Arts & Design District. The mother-daughter team of Emilie Myers and Cathy Egler brought it to fruition in three short months, after a fateful trip to Paris in May 2009 and a bit of serendipity.

Myers, 24, spent her entire childhood around the restaurant business. Egler, 54, owned The Pie Safe pastry kitchen and eatery in Zionville from 1986 to 1995, and her daughter waited tables in the establishment before turning double-digits. Egler closed the restaurant after it had evolved to a point where it was scantly profitable, but she later developed an itch to try again. Meanwhile, Myers had turned into a hard-core Francophile, visiting France several times and studying the language in college.

Egler occasionally would suggest that they open an eatery together, but Myers demurred. "I didn't think she'd take me up on the deal; it was a pipe dream," Egler said.

After Myers began a career in marketing, she soon realized she'd rather be her own boss. While working as a product development coordinator for BDI Marketing in Carmel, she enrolled in an MBA program at the University of Indianapolis with a bent toward international business. On a trip to Europe in May 2009 through the program, she and her mother found themselves in a Parisian cafe.

"I looked out the window and said, 'Let's do it, Mom. Let's open a cafe. You've been bugging me for years,'" she recalled.

They quickly scouted a location in Carmel and began developing the menu, based on casual French cuisine while including pastries and American-style favorites from the Pie Safe's offerings. Several weeks into the project, Myers was laid off from her job, so the die was cast.La Mie Emilie's sales figures

Dick Egler, Cathy's husband and Myers' stepfather, agreed to bankroll much of the $40,000 startup. (His contribution to date is about $48,000, while the women have invested $12,000.) The space included furnishings and kitchen equipment left by the former tenant—Bistro de Paris, also a French restaurant—which helped save on expenses and speed the transition.

Despite Egler's hands-on experience and Myers' marketing smarts, they had several lessons to learn. Although La Mie Emilie was intended to open only for breakfast and lunch, customers clamored for dinner. Wine wasn't originally on the menu, and customers balked. The partners quickly relented on both counts.

Egler's pies helped prop up sales during the holidays and typically lean winter months. As the restaurant developed a customer base and expanded its offerings, sales began to grow again in the spring (see chart). However, for the 12 months ending Oct. 1, 2010, the restaurant had recorded a net loss of about $50,000.

"It's hard to take, and I guess that will drive me to get more customers in the door," Myers said. With little faith in traditional advertising, she hopes to generate positive word of mouth, exploit social media, contribute items to local festivals and charitable events, and explore online promotions such as Groupon.

In the video at top, Myers and her mother discuss the origins of the eatery and the young woman's intense learning curve as she stepped from the classroom to a real-life managerial position. As far as going back to school to complete her MBA, she now wonders if it wouldn't be more appropriate to go back and teach classes.

La Mie Emilie
15 W. Main St., Carmel
(317) 816-1200
Concept: A French cafe and patisserie open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (selected days) with some American fare and pies from Zionville's late The Pie Safe.
Founded: Aug. 7, 2009
Owners: Emilie Myers and Cathy Egler
Start-up costs: $40,000
Gross sales/net income: $290,000 in gross sales; net loss of $50,000 between Oct. 1, 2009 and Oct. 1, 2010.
Employees: 16
Seating: 80
Goals: To operate at break-even point and then continue to grow sales; eventually hire managers so the owners can have more flexible schedules; and grow sales from catering.

  • delicious
    atmosphere is quaint and parisian, food is really good, had the mushroom soup, phenominal! Excellent bouef bourgignon, be sure to have an eclair and latte to finish it up, will go back regularly
  • Yum
    Had lunch there on Tuesday, it was fantastic and great menu. Great pies. You should stop by and order or pick up pies for the holidays!!! I am from out of town and it was a nice change. Good Luck. i will return. ps great prices too
  • Yummy
    This is a great restaurant that doesn't disappoint (except for not being open on Mondays). The pies are fantastic! The chocolate coconut pie is to die for. Portions are generous but not too huge. Outdoor dining is fun in the summer; the restaurant can get noisy (all those hard surfaces) when filled up for lunch or dinner. I like supporting independent busineses, and the restaurant's back story makes me even more determined to support this bistro.
  • Great!
    Thanks for answering the question and clearing all of that up. Good luck.
  • No subsidies!
    Contrary to many rumors, La Mie Emilie does not, nor have we ever received any subsidies from Carmel, the CRC, or anyone else!! Another rumor that we have heard recently, that also is not true is that Carmel owns our building. Our restaurant is owned by a private citizen and we pay a sizeable rent monthly.
  • As usual
    As usual, Carmel Resident cannot spell nor construct a reasonable sentence and his delusional paranoia shines through his post.

    I can guarantee you that I've lived in Carmel longer than Carmel Resident and have supported more Carmel businesses in my lifetime than he may in his.

    Recently I drove by the restaurant at 6:30 p.m. on a Wednesday evening and they were not open. Asking about the hours seems like a pretty basic and reasonable question.
  • Education
    The contemporary fiction is that, in the U.S., more education will result in a "better" after school life. It is only true if you get out of school debt-free. Borrowing to purchase an education is a huge mistake that will result in debt slavery for the person making it.
  • Yum!
    I had a delightful lunch there today: spinach quiche, a croissant, and raspberry crepes. Their croque monsieur is also very good and authentic.
  • Sidewalk Dinning
    I have enjoyed the outside dinning this summer. A great place for lunch any time of the year

    Oh and HarveF/Spigelman4Mayor just support your own community and you would know the answers...schessh what a screw ball he is
  • What's up with the video?
    I twice tried to play it. I get the preroll commercial and no video. What gives?
  • Great place for lunch
    I was just there Tuesday night for a "Wine and Canvass" event, and had dinner there as well; really good food; excellent service and the prices are in line with what you get. I noticed that they have a nice selection for a vegitarian; I'm not but I have freinds who are and its nice when there is a resturant that can accommodate my "veggie" friends with more than just 2 choices.
  • Open?
    I often drive by the establishment and it is not open during what one would consider normal business hours for a restaurant. On several of those times we were going to stop for a bite to eat but were not able to. I notice the hours are not specified in the article.

    Question - is this establishment getting any subsidies from Carmel's CRC? I believe that is a fair question.
    • suggestions
      My family really likes the restaurant especially the pies. We like coming for pie anf coffee.

      However, I do believe you need a little more food variety. I think the menu is too limited. I would like a deli meet (ie rosat beef) sandwhich of course that may not be French.

      Also not sure when you are open at night, maybe outside lights to show your open that night?

    Post a comment to this story

    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

    2. Do you need finance to establish your business ? Are you interested in getting a loan at 3% from our private company? If so please Email: suntrust_oil@blumail.org

    3. If she was worth the $ the public outcry over direct tv dropping them would have kept them on their dishes as we have seen with other companies. I too quit watching channel 13 after she showed up since I left channel 8 because of her all show rather than production results. When Randy on 8 corrected her she had a big head and incorrectly challenged his correction for pronunciation of a city. Other antics while she matures was too much for me with her very inaccurate forecasts. All the forecasters were predicting rain until Thursday except Chris. They predicted sunny on Thursday but instead of rain until Thursday upon which the sun would finally make it out in full glory Chris was right on the money just as I too predicted looking at the radar on weather.gov. One thing I love about Angela is the fear you can see in her every time it thunders in the winter. It far exceeds the entertainment value of her body language (high heel noise drags, depression, etc) when her forecasts are so incorrect. Her hair stands on end, you have to see it!!!

    4. Good Day, Apply For A Loan I am Mr Fernadez Antonio, a private Loan lender and a cooperate financial for real estate and any kinds of business financing. I also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at 3% interest rate We offer any kind of loans. email us via fernadezloaninvest@outlook.com LOAN APPLICATION FORM First name:......................... Middle name:......................... Last name:........................................ Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd):....................... Gender:........................................... Marital status:................................... Total Amount Needed............................... Loan Duration.................................... Address:.......................................... City:............................................. State/province:................................... Zip/postal code:.................................. Country:.......................................... Phone:............................................ Fax:.............................................. Mobile/cellular:.................................. Monthly Income.................................... Occupation:....................................... Best Regard, Mr Fernadez Antonio.

    5. i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.okoro how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. okoro on his email:okorospell@gmail.com and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact Dr okoro the great spell caster on his email addresses spellcasterforlove@outlook.com