A long-vacant building at 452 N. Highland Ave. will soon see new life as a locally-owned wood-fired pizza restaurant called King Dough.
The husband/wife team of Adam and Alicia Sweet, who opened their original King Dough in Bloomington in 2015, have taken on Reed Owens as a partner in the Indianapolis operation. Renovations at the site are in their final weeks, and the Sweets told IBJ they aim to have the restaurant open by year’s end.
“We’re just excited to be in the neighborhood,” said Adam Sweet, adding that the location is appealing because it provides the opportunity to “put a stake in a neighborhood that’s still developing right now.”
The original building, a 1,243-square-foot cinderblock structure, sits on a triangular slice of land that, according to Google Street View images, has been vacant since at least 2007. At some point in the past it served as a gas station and auto shop.
In preparation for King Dough’s arrival the building has been more than doubled in size, to 2,675 square feet. The restaurant will offer indoor seating for 100, with a patio that will seat another 25 or so.
The building is owned by members of the William Witchger family, along with local businessman Ed Battista. Battista’s family owns numerous properties around town, along with the Fletcher Place restaurant Bluebeard and neighboring bakery Amelia’s.
Battista said he first connected with the Sweets through Amelia’s. King Dough was a customer, but Amelia’s doesn’t deliver to Bloomington—so Adam Sweet made regular trips to the bakery to pick up the bread himself.
That level of passion for quality, Battista said, helped convince him that the Sweets would be good tenants for the long-vacant North Highland Avenue property. He bought into the property about three years ago with the purpose of activating the space.
“We spent a couple of years to find the perfect tenant—and we did, in Adam and Alicia,” Battista said.
While the Sweets work to open the Holy Cross location, they’ve been testing the market with a series of pop-up events, where King Dough staff takes over the kitchen of an established space for one day.
Amelia’s, along with fellow Fletcher Place establishments Turchetti’s Salumeria Deli and Milktooth, and 8th Day Distillery on the northeast side of downtown, have all hosted King Dough pop-ups.
The success of those events gives the Sweets confidence that their Holy Cross shop should do well.
“Every single time, we sell out,” Adam Sweet said. At the Turchetti’s pop-up, he said, King Dough made and sold 100 pizzas in only four hours.
As compared with its original location, King Dough’s Indianapolis site will offer a more extensive menu, including pasta dishes and burgers. It will also have a full bar, unlike the Bloomington restaurant.
Seafood in Brightwood
Speaking of new restaurants filling vacant spaces, this week we also have news of Taste This Fish, a seafood restaurant that had its grand opening Nov. 2 at 3614 E. 25th St. in the city’s Brightwood neighborhood.
Menu items include various types of seafood, along with some other dishes, such as spaghetti, fried green tomatoes and peach cobbler.
“The key was to have an old-school fish market that we thought the city was missing,” said Johnny Howard, the restaurant’s manager and executive chef.
Howard’s niece, Yolanda Carter, owns the business as well as the building it occupies, a multitenant commercial space. According to Google Street View images, the space now occupied by Taste This Fish was formerly home to The Hideout Eatery, and before that, Uncle Greg’s Barbecue.
Howard, a carpenter by trade, said he decided to open a restaurant after learning that Carter was looking for a tenant for the vacant space. Though he has no formal culinary experience, he describes himself as a neighborhood cook—a go-to person when friends and neighbors need someone to make food for local parties and other gatherings.
Now, Howard is running the restaurant full-time, and he said it has already developed some repeat customers in just its first few weeks. “Business is booming. It’s great.”