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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. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

  2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

  3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

  4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

  5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.

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