IBJNews

INSIDE DISH: Recess owner keeps it simple, plans expansion

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Inside Dish

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

Our subject this week is Recess, the sprightly brainchild of local luminary Greg Hardesty, who arguably is the closest thing Indianapolis has to a so-called “celebrity chef.” With former business partner Mike Sylvia, Hardesty opened Broad Ripple favorite H2O Sushi in 2000 and the critically acclaimed Elements in the Mass Ave area in 2003. Building on the success of the fledgling Recess, Hardesty plans to open his fourth eatery by early April.



After selling Elements in 2008, Hardesty went on an extended sabbatical to spend more time with his wife and two children, and to recharge his batteries. With a mind still moored in the kitchen, he began cooking large quantities of soup and alerting friends via e-mail when he had extra.

“I just got an e-mail list going, and I would put on there, ‘I’ve got 14 quarts of bean-and-bacon soup,’ and I would sell that from my front door,” Hardesty said. “It was just regular customers. It started out at about 50 or 60 people, and it grew to about 250. ... This was about the time that social media was becoming popular. I realized this was a great way to market yourself. It became kind of a game for everyone.”

Hardesty, 42, decided to capitalize on the chef-centric concept with a new eatery, in which he would prepare a limited prix fixe menu that changed daily. He landed on the name Recess, denoting his “food should be fun” philosophy and evoking a loose atmosphere where diners could take a break and let the chef make the tough decisions.

“The hardest part now is explaining that there are some choices,” Hardesty said. “At first it was like, ‘You have to eat what he’s making.’ But there are dietary restrictions and vegetarians. We cater to whatever your needs are. … And there is some flexibility to it. Oftentimes, two of the four courses have a choice between items.”

In the following video, Hardesty explains how he plans each day's menu, which typically is written less than 24 hours before food hits the plate. He also roughs out his process for pricing each meal, which is decidedly less exact than that of corporate eateries.



Wanting to stick close to his north-side home, he began leasing a 2,000-square-foot space at 4907 N. College Ave. in July 2009. With former Elements employee Gabe Jordan enlisted to invest sweat equity and slated to become general manager, the two began plotting the 42-seat restaurant and reshaping the space.

“At the time I didn’t have a job, so why would I pay somebody to do something while I’m sitting here at home with all kinds of angst built up?” Hardesty said. “I might as well go and wreck a wall and haul it out.”

In the video at top, Hardesty details the $230,000 startup and how he dealt with losing Jordan to a life-altering spinal injury before Recess opened in January 2010. He also recalls his initial trepidation over the single-meal concept and the eatery’s less-than-upscale location.

Sales have been strong in the first 12 months—$850,000, generating profit of about $20,000. Emboldened, Hardesty is planning to open a 450-square-foot eatery next door to Recess named Rm. 4. Playing off the back-to-school theme of Recess, it will feature options on the short-order side of the spectrum, such as hamburgers, tacos, noodles and soups.

“What I think will happen is that I won’t take any customers from here, but the people who eat at Recess on a once-a-week basis might come here once-a-week still and then go over there one or two times,” Hardesty said of flagship restaurant's empty-nester and busy-professional clientele.

He expects to invest at least $100,000 in the buildout, for which he already has secured a $70,000 bank loan. The rest would be covered by promissory notes from friends and family, as well as his own savings. Rm. 4 is expected to open by early April.

Hardesty believes he has found the perfect scale for Recess, which succeeds with a relatively modest dining room.

“I don’t think it would work with 160 seats,” he said. “It’s hard to get into, but that’s good. I love that it’s hard to get into on a Wednesday night. It means it’s a restaurant that’s full. There is nothing worse than going to a restaurant and two-thirds of it are empty. I’d rather go to a small full restaurant than a half-full big one.”
 

x
x
x
Recess
x
4907 N. College Ave.
x
(317) 925-7529
x
x
www.recessindy.com
x
x
x
Concept: A prix fixe menu typically ranging from $45 to $55 that changes daily, featuring locally produced meats, produce and other fresh ingredients.
x
Founded: Jan. 8, 2010
x
Owner: Greg Hardesty
x
Startup costs: $230,000 ($190,000 in commercial bank financing and $40,000 in promissory notes from friends and family, paying 7 percent in interest annually for five years).
x
2010 gross sales/net income: $850,000 / $20,000
x
Seating: 42
x
Employees: 15
x
Goals: To open a 22-seat, 450-square-foot eatery next door to Recess, named Rm. 4. It will feature more comfort-food and short-order-style options, such as hamburgers, tacos and soups.
x
x
ADVERTISEMENT

  • You are a god
    Yum
  • a hard road to success
    i found the article interesting from the financial perspective...a lot of hard work and a small net profit for a new business. the quality of the food and the rave reviews should help to offset the sacrifices that have to be made! kudos for making even a small profit!!
  • Wonderful!
    As friends of Greg's parents, and lucky recipients of some of his excellent culinary creations in the past, we are thrilled for and proud of Greg and Susan and all they have accomplished.

    Barbara and Ron Abe'
  • Best in Town by far
    Thanks to Mason for a great, great piece on Recess. Thanks to Greg for creating the best place in Indy. Can't wait to eat at the new place, too.

    Chuck

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
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
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

  2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

  3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

  4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

  5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!

ADVERTISEMENT