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INSIDE DISH: Kelties eyes return to salad days

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Inside Dish

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

Our subject this week is Kelties, a Westfield-based eatery that has evolved from its original incarnation as an etiquette-training school with limited private events and catering to a lunch-and-dinner restaurant that relies on catering for close to half its total sales.



Owner and chef Keltie Domina, 49, remains optimistic despite a recession-driven decline in sales that resulted in a $55,500 loss for the first six months of 2010. Over the seven-year life of the restaurant, Domina has relied on a talent for shifting strategy when circumstances demand. When etiquette classes couldn't pay the bills, she returned to her roots as a chef and opened for lunch. Given the opportunity to move into a higher-end space, she scraped together $250,000 for start-up costs via a variety of avenues, including small-business lending, savings, credit cards, and $65,000 in personal loans from employees and local businesspeople.

Domina has adjusted to the current economic climate with several shrewd cost-cutting moves. She has renegotiated the eatery's lease with the space's landlord and worked with vendors to defer payments on goods and services. The restaurant has shed four employees, placed paper sheets on top of white tablecloths to cut down on cleaning expenses, and put the kibosh on gifts to local organizations like donated food and gift cards.

"As much as I love doing that, I have to think about the employees here and the longevity of the business," Domina said.

In the video at top, Domina discusses the origins of the restaurant, how employees and fellow businesspeople helped finance the move to Kelties' current space, and how cost-cutting measures and a recent uptick in sales have brightened her outlook.

 

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Kelties
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110 S. Union St., Westfield
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(317) 867-3525
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www.kelties.com
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Concept: Upscale American-based cuisine, with a big emphasis on catering.
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Founded: 2003
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Owner: Keltie Domina
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Start-up costs: $5,000 in previous location, which already contained vital restaurant equipment and supplies from a previous tenant; $250,000 in the current location, opened in September 2007.
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Sales/profit: $817,000 in sales, with $4,215 profit (2008); $924,000 in sales, with $13,891 profit (2009). For the first six months of 2010, gross sales are $330,000, with a net loss of $54,500.
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Employees: 30
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Seating: 105
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Goals: Revising and repricing the catering menu; reemphasizing training for service staff.
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Good to know: Catering accounts for about 45 percent of kelties' total sales.
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  • Sonic!
    Camby has a new Sonic. Hope that more are in store, for the area. The one in Kokomo, closed.
  • Westfield Has The Best
    I own the Queso Blanco Mexican Restaurant. We are in the space Keltie was in before. Many of my customers comment about their last visit to Keltie's. They say the presentation and food is outstanding. And I totally agree. My visits to Keltie's have been a great experience.
  • A vital part of Westfield
    Kelties signifies everything that Westfield is..and wants to be. quality Food, great service and one of the cores of the downtown businesses. As the city of Westfield, the chamber and the DWNA work to build the comminity Keltie is always there.. the buisness has adapapted to the times,and to the people that now live in the downtown area.. come sit at the bar for leivly converstion and great food!
  • Incredible Salads
    My husband and I had lunch at Keltie's on Saturday. The most incredible salads ever. Not really sure where "albert" is coming from because we have had lunches/dinners here quite often and have never had a bad meal. The food, as well as the service, is outstanding. Definitely my favorite restaurant!!
  • We love this place!!!
    Kelties Beggars Purse, and bread pudding are out of this world. And Sunday's brunch is the nicest brunch we have attended. It is fine dining with a comfortable and welcome atmosphere.!
  • Never disappointed
    We have been to Kelties for lunch and dinner, and have never been disappointed. The food and service have been outstanding. You can tell that care is put into each meal and guest.
  • Great Experience
    Keltie's is an ubelievable experience. It would be a gem in downtown Indy, but for a place of such quality and originality to be in Westfield is fantastic. Original dishes, perpared with care and attention to detail. Truly a fine dining experience. I really hope they can weather the storm, because losing them would be a blow to fine dining in the Indy area.
  • Reality
    The last time I was at this place, on a saturday evening at 7:30 PM, they were out of half of their entree's, and had limited salad choices.....they should have run to Kroger...it was embarrassing...and I will never go back. It is not the economy, it is all about quality.

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  1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

  2. My responses to some of the comments would include the following: 1. Our offer which included the forgiveness of debt (this is an immediate forgiveness and is not "spread over many years")represents debt that due to a reduction of interest rates in the economy arguably represents consideration together with the cash component of our offer that exceeds the $2.1 million apparently offered by another party. 2. The previous $2.1 million cash offer that was turned down by the CRC would have netted the CRC substantially less than $2.1 million. As a result even in hindsight the CRC was wise in turning down that offer. 3. With regard to "concerned Carmelite's" discussion of the previous financing Pedcor gave up $16.5 million in City debt in addition to the conveyance of the garage (appraised at $13 million)in exchange for the $22.5 million cash and debt obligations. The local media never discussed the $16.5 million in debt that we gave up which would show that we gave $29.5 million in value for the $23.5 million. 4.Pedcor would have been much happier if Brian was still operating his Deli and only made this offer as we believe that we can redevelop the building into something that will be better for the City and City Center where both Pedcor the citizens of Carmel have a large investment. Bruce Cordingley, President, Pedcor

  3. I've been looking for news on Corner Bakery, too, but there doesn't seem to be any info out there. I prefer them over Panera and Paradise so can't wait to see where they'll be!

  4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

  5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim

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