IBJ Podcast: Restaurateur Cunningham on Pacers’ Commission Row, other new concepts for Indy

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Founded in 1997, Indianapolis-based Cunningham Restaurant Group now counts 17 distinctive dining concepts spread over a total of about 40 establishments in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. A sampling: Mesh, Rize, Provision, Bru Burger Bar, Modita, Union 50, Nesso, Stonecreek Dining Company and the nationally rated Vida and Livery. And the stovetop at CRG’s development kitchen in downtown Indianapolis is full: The company is opening several new concepts in the next year, and founder and CEO Mike Cunningham estimates that the group could have as many as 60 locations within three years.

The highest-profile additions to the CRG roster will be located on Bicentennial Unity Plaza next to Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon is building a 30,000-square-foot dining and entertainment complex called Commission Row, and CRG has been hired to develop and manage its three main components: a 220-seat upscale restaurant called Commission Row, a 110-seat speakeasy-style watering hole called Mel’s at Commission Row, and a 260-seat event space called Above at Commission Row. CRG also is working on an indoor/outdoor casual dining spot called Shindig in the North Mass corridor and a family-friendly joint in Plainfield called Theo’s Italian.

In this week’s edition of the IBJ Podcast, Mike Cunningham discusses in detail his plans for the new eateries, as well as adjustments he’s making to existing properties in central Indiana. He also dives deep into his philosophy for growing the restaurant group and why such a significant chunk of it has taken shape in downtown Indianapolis.

Click here to find the IBJ Podcast each Monday. You can also subscribe at iTunesGoogle PlayTune In, Spotify and anyplace you find podcasts.

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