UPDATE: Tinker Street chef quits as restaurant closes 'until further notice'

March 30, 2018
Thomas Main, 59, left, and Peter George, 62, fell on hard times individually in the 2000s and ended up housemates, where they started plotting their return. (IBJ photo/Eric Learned)

Tinker Street, the high-profile and upscale restaurant on 16th Street owned by veteran restaurateurs Peter George and Thomas Main, announced Friday that it has closed “until further notice.”

In messages posted on its Facebook and Twitter accounts shortly before 3 p.m. Friday, the restaurant said, “Tinker Street will be closed until further notice. We’d like to thank our loyal customers for their support, and we will keep you all posted with updates on the future of our restaurant.”

Separately, Tinker Street’s chef, Bradeon Kellner, announced his resignation on social media on Friday.

“I have resigned my position as the Chef of Tinker Street Restaurant. Thanks to all my guests that enjoyed what I love doing the most. Cooking great food,” Kellner wrote.

The restaurant abruptly closed for Wednesday and Thursday night service with little explanation. But it did put out the call that it wanted to hire more servers and salespeople.

Located at 404 E. 16th St. between New Jersey Street and Central Avenue, Tinker Street typically serves dinner seven days a week. Late Wednesday afternoon, Tinker Street posted on social media that it would be closed that night. The post on Twitter did not offer a reason, but added, “We’ll see you tomorrow for dinner!”

Also on Wednesday, the restaurant posted a notice on Facebook that it was hiring servers and salespeople, and that both full- and part-time jobs were available.

On Thursday, about an hour before the restaurant’s scheduled 5 p.m. opening, Tinker Street posted messages on its Facebook and Twitter feeds announcing only, “Our restaurant will be closed tonight.”

IBJ has been unable to reach George or Main for more details. IBJ reached out to Kellner for comment Friday afternoon but did not immediately receive a reply.

George confirmed to The Indianapolis Star that front-of-the-house had walked out, but he declined to disclose the reason.

Tensions reportedly came to a head on Wednesday. A former Tinker Street employee, Alexandria Tiano, said she had worked as a server at the restaurant for five days before George fired her on March 23. Tiano said she had been late to work earlier in the week, and she said George told her the tardiness was the reason for her termination.

In an interview with IBJ on Friday, Tiano said some of her former co-workers told her on Wednesday that the circumstances of her firing came up earlier in the day during a staff meeting the restaurant had called to discuss menu changes. Several employees either quit or announced their intent to walk out at that meeting, Tiano said.

Tiano also said that Main contacted her via text Wednesday night to offer her the job back, but she did not accept the offer. She said she has since found a new server’s job at another restaurant.

Kellner had been Tinker Street’s chef since the restaurant’s opening. Before that, he worked as sous chef at Oakley’s Bistro on West 86th Street. And before that, he worked at CityWay’s Alexander Hotel.

When George and Main opened Tinker Street in 2014, they told IBJ that they chose the location because of the potential of the East 16th Street corridor and the strength of the surrounding Herron-Morton Place and Old Northside neighborhoods.

Tinker Street was an immediate hit with its copious outdoor seating and forward-thinking, plant-based menu. Since then, the corridor has been bursting with new retail, office and residential projects.

Tinker Street marked a surprise return to restaurants for George and Main. George was once considered one of the city’s leading upscale restaurateurs, helping spur the local culinary scene toward chef-driven eateries with a farm-to-table bent. He opened his first local establishment, Peter’s, in 1985. He went on to open Bistro 936 and Chops An American Steakhouse.

His three eateries jointly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2003, and George left the industry to become a real estate agent for the next decade.

Main launched Puccini’s Smiling Teeth with brother Don in 1991. Main has since stepped away from that business. Puccini’s now has 10 locations in the Indianapolis area, West Lafayette and Lexington, Kentucky.



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