Feb. 27 will be the last day of business for R bistro, the Massachusetts Avenue anchor that helped fuel Indianapolis’ homegrown restaurant boom.
Executive chef Regina Mehallick and her husband and co-owner, Jim Mehallick, have operated R bistro for nearly 15 years. R2Go, the affiliated specialty market that opened in late 2014 at 1101 N. College Ave., will continue operations.
The decision to close the restaurant at 888 Massachusetts Ave. stemmed from the couple’s desire to slow their pace a bit.
Mehallick told IBJ on Monday that she'd been thinking about the change since opening R2Go. One factor is the increase in the number of local restaurants, “so business has been down to some extent," she said.
A bigger part of the decision, however, was not wanting to run two businesses “at my age . ... It’s really difficult to manage both of them appropriately.”
There is still about a year left on the lease, and Mehallick hopes to sell the business to another restaurateur. “It’s a great location,” she said.
In addition to influencing local restaurants, R bistro also helped prove the viability of the 800 block of Mass Ave, which now includes Yats, Homespun, Natural Born Juicers, Mimi Blue Meatballs, Best Chocolate in Town, and more.
Mehallick 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.
Stressing fresh local ingredients and with its own attached garden, R bistro opened in 2001 and earned praise for its rustic-meets-contemporary cuisine. Mehallick landed a Cultural Vision Award from Nuvo Newsweekly, represented Indianapolis at Slow Food International’s world meeting in Turin, Italy, and published her own cookbook in 2008. She is a five-time James Beard semifinalist.
The restaurant has 12 employees.