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

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Inside Dish

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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  • Made me hungry
    Great restaurant; great food; great story. Now I'm hungry and I can not possibly get to R bistro till next week.

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  1. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

  2. 85 feet for an ambitious project? I could shoot ej*culate farther than that.

  3. I tried, can't take it anymore. Untill Katz is replaced I can't listen anymore.

  4. Perhaps, but they've had a very active program to reduce rainwater/sump pump inflows for a number of years. But you are correct that controlling these peak flows will require spending more money - surge tanks, lines or removing storm water inflow at the source.

  5. All sewage goes to the Carmel treatment plant on the White River at 96th St. Rainfall should not affect sewage flows, but somehow it does - and the increased rate is more than the plant can handle a few times each year. One big source is typically homeowners who have their sump pumps connect into the sanitary sewer line rather than to the storm sewer line or yard. So we (Carmel and Clay Twp) need someway to hold the excess flow for a few days until the plant can process this material. Carmel wants the surge tank located at the treatment plant but than means an expensive underground line has to be installed through residential areas while CTRWD wants the surge tank located further 'upstream' from the treatment plant which costs less. Either solution works from an environmental control perspective. The less expensive solution means some people would likely have an unsightly tank near them. Carmel wants the more expensive solution - surprise!

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