Former ‘Top Chef’ contestants plan seafood restaurant in old Big Al’s space

Stiltsville, a seafood restaurant operated by former contestants on the Bravo network show “Top Chef,” has plans to open in a two-level space being redeveloped at 4601 N. College Ave. in Meridian-Kessler.

Scotty’s Brewhouse founder Scott Wise also is involved in the project.

The building on the northeast corner of 46th Street and College Avenue formerly housed Big Al’s Superstore. The structure, which contains 6,778 square feet at street level and another 2,810 square feet on a lower level, is being rehabbed into a multitenant retail space.

A clothing boutique called the Urban Hippie also recently signed on as a tenant in the development. The building is now totally leased—a third tenant, Scarlet Lane Brewing Co., committed to the space this past spring.

Stiltsville is operated by chefs Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth, who currently own a Stiltsville in Miami Beach, Florida, according to a story posted Thursday by the publication Food & Wine. 

McInnis, a Florida native, was a contestant on the fifth season of Top Chef, which premiered in November 2008. Booth, an Australia native, was a contestant on season 11, which premiered in October 2013.

The couple plans to open the Indianapolis Stiltsville in late winter or early spring, the Food & Wine story says, and the restaurant will feature a wood-fired oven and be similar to the Miami Beach restaurant. 

McInnis and Booth are partnering with Wise and Tom Collins, president of Hobart-based Luke Family of Brands, on the project, Food & Wine reported. Wise sold the 17-store Scotty’s Brewhouse chain in December 2016, and he now works as director of restaurant development and operations at Luke Family of Brands.

IBJ was unable to reach McInnis, Booth, Collins or Wise for comment on Friday.

McInnis and Booth also have a farmhouse-inspired restaurant called Root & Bone in New York City. That eatery opened in 2013, and the chefs are working to open a second Root & Bone in Miami by the end of the year, Food & Wine reports.

According to a property brochure from Indianapolis-based commercial broker Reliant Partners, Stiltsville will take a two-level corner spot on the west side of the property. That space includes about 5,600 square feet divided between a ground-level space and a lower level, plus a patio dining area along College Avenue.

Immediately adjacent to the east, Urban Hippie will take the middle spot in the building, a 1,400-square-foot space that fronts 46th Street.

This will be a second location for the retailer, which is based in Fort Wayne.

Daisha Virgin of Plainfield is the owner of the Indianapolis store. Her aunt, Tammy Castleberry, owns the Fort Wayne store.

Virgin is originally from Fort Wayne, but she lived in and near the Broad Ripple area for more than five years before moving to Plainfield. She previously worked for SalesForce in Indianapolis but left that job this week to prepare for the store’s opening.

“I’m super-excited about the redevelopment at 46th and College and even more excited that I get to be a part of revitalizing that corner,” Virgin told IBJ on Friday.

Virgin said her store will sell mostly women’s clothing but will also carry a small assortment of men’s items. The shop’s focus is on bohemian-style clothing that is reminiscent of the 1970s. “We definitely dabble in the throwback hippie stuff,” Virgin said.

Virgin said she anticipates gaining access to the space in the next several weeks and anticipates it will take about four weeks to build out the space before opening for business. “I’ve got my architect and my contractors ready to go.”

The remaining 1,600-square-foot space on the east end of the building will be occupied by Scarlet Lane, which is building a taproom.

Scarlet Lane, operated by the husband-and-wife team of Nick Servies and Eilise Lane, launched in 2014 in the Hancock County town of McCordsville, where it has both a brewery and a taproom. The couple opened a second taproom last month at 2033 S. Meridian St. south of downtown Indianapolis.

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