Shannon Stone is at the well-worn bar at Brugge Brasserie
, circuitously revealing the path leading to the long-awaited opening of “The Owner’s Wife”
restaurant at 608 N. Park Ave., adjacent to Outliers Brewing Company
at 602 Park Ave.
Bar-sitting is off Shannon Stone’s regular routine. Her standard is making tracks between tables in Brugge
’s snug family-centric dining area. She also spends her days interfacing with regulars who have been coming since 2006 when Brugge first sparked the corner at Westfield Avenue and 63rd Street along the Monon Trail
as Broad Ripple’s second craft brewery and Indiana’s first dedicated to Belgian beers.
Shannon’s second calling has been guiding newcomers through the menu featuring Belgian-inspired fare — hence ‘Brasserie’. A customer’s take-away impression is seriously important to Shannon. It’s not French fries — it’s frites, with a choice of specialty side dips. And the hearty bread is to sop up the hearty beer broth, flavored by the steamed mussels and choice herbs and spices. Nothing is wasted.
“I want people to feel they can come to Brugge to have a new experience with their children and enjoy a different choice of foods. Kids have their first taste of mussels at Brugge,” explains Shannon. “They come, and they want to come back.”
Brugge is distinctly linked with Ted Miller, Shannon Stone’s husband. Ted Miller’s brewing heritage links with John Hill
, founder of Broad Ripple Brewpub
, and with Greg Emig, BRBP's head brewer at the time Ted reached age 21 and could sign on. After a fruitful stint with BRBP under Greg, progressing along the time-honored Guild System from cellarman to brewmaster, Ted and Shannon left Indiana for Taiwan, where Ted brewed until it was ripe to come home with their three children, ranging from school age to toddler.
“Ted and I had our adventures around the world enjoying good food and quality beer,” offers Shannon, as a segue into the venture of opening Brugge that left pundits at the time pronouncing ‘the foolhardy venture’ would not work out. The pundits ended up eating their words — their preliminary detractions were simply a lack of faith in what is now some of the best beer Indiana craft offers.
Shannon’s conversation at the bar turns from reflecting on the now well-established Brugge Brasserie image and the profusion of Belgian beers across Indiana to her role with her newest venture, The Owner’s Wife, where a different image is in the making.
The image is still family friendly, but with decor, food and drinks to fit a Mass Ave. aesthetic, an area filled with trendy spots arriving all the time. Despite fitting this aesthetic, the Owner's Wife will definitely reflect the history of the 106-year-old building that it will be housed within. The building reportedly started life as a Church Center, became a Guild Hall for the workers of The Real Silk Hosiery Mills
, and might have served other uses until Mac McDaniel made the one-story brick structure the headquarters for his family company, founded in 1971 with a specialty in construction materials.
The building and the neighborhood bring a distinctive history into play. Mac McDaniel knows that history. “I lived in the neighborhood a long time. I’m a product of the neighborhood through its various changes” from residential and mixed commercial to a reportedly red light district, to a series of ups and downs, concluding with a comeback in the past few years, during which Outliers Brewery moved into the neighborhood.
Talk of The Owner's Wife began before Outliers even opened; in fact, Rita did a story on it in January of 2013 for NUVO
. But, as happens in life, plans changed. “Everything happens when it happens,” muses Shannon. “What’s been taking so long for The Owner’s Wife to open is a question in context.”
The context, says Shannon, centers on its location within a historic district and adherence to what makes this structure distinctive. The Owner’s Wife is not Brugge Brasserie Two in the same way that the adjacent Outliers Brewing Company is not Brugge Brewing Two. Outliers opened four years ago as a production brewery with its own brands, with Brugge beers on tap and available in bottles from day one, and while Ted Miller is Brewmaster, a brewing team is in residence to provide what Ted Miller refers to as “providing a distinct choice of different styles for a broader palate. After someone tries a style that’s more recognizable, and then tries a Belgian, it soon becomes their favorite. They have to work up to it.”
So while Ted’s brewing imprint is at Outliers just as it is at Brugge, Shannon’s presence will be prominent at The Owner’s Wife, though she is and has been a co-owner in all of the Miller[Stone] enterprises, including Brugge.
“Why is it always the guys being noticed on paper?” Shannon poses rhetorically. “‘Oh, this is the owner’s wife’ became the joke at the signings, so when asked, ‘What’s the name of the restaurant?’ I said, 'The Owner’s Wife.'”
“Ted and I are a team, with our family a priority. We made sure everything was in place at Brugge so we would be home for dinner with the children. Now it is timely for the move to Park Avenue, with our son at IU-Bloomington
, our oldest daughter at Herron High School, our youngest in eighth grade.
“We’re starting all over again, but with a different story. It doesn’t mean Brugge Brasserie becomes less important. This is still the place where people come to relax and enjoy each other. But you have to have something new up and coming. Ted’s the big picture, I’m the detail person.”
One of the details, says Shannon, is keeping the Brugge ’service family’ intact. “We rely on them. It comes down to community. Broad Ripple is our community.”
Shannon describes a community of togetherness that’s several generations deep, and admits that “going downtown is like a vacation.”
So what are we to expect about this new venture? Shannon is circumspect about the decor and desired ambiance, which prompted a call to Brian Presnell
, who has been part of Ted and Shannon's circle of friends who dig in and help each other. “I’m a long-time arts guy,” he says. “We’re utilizing what we’ve got from local materials, respecting the historic footprint of the building,” along with the story of the adjoining building that goes back to 1945 when Joseph R. Tway saw a need that wasn’t being met and founded Tway Lifting Company
, that continues to be part of Indianapolis’ construction industry at a different location.
Brian Presnell isn’t anymore forthcoming about specifics of decor than is Shannon, but Ted reveals it’s going to be “something unlike anyplace else.”
“Yes, we’re all playing around to make each place distinctive,” agrees Brian, “we’re coming at it with a broad sense of humor and good design. Ted makes great beer, there will be great food, so we have to pair that with good design.” By the way, be prepared to experience rebranding and decor changes at Outliers commensurate with the opening of The Owner’s Wife.
Jay Petroy, head chef at Brugge, is the only long-time Brugge associate who will move downtown as executive chef at The Owner's Wife. While Petroy will be running the kitchen, the duo brought on Milktooth
chef/owner Jonathan Brooks — named a 2016 James Beard Award semifinalist
and a 2015 Food & Wine magazine best new chef —
as a consulting chef. According
to a press release the menu will feature “House-cured meats, homemade cheeses, conservas-style canned-fish and an assortment of freshly brewed vinegars.” As with Brugge's menu when it arrived in 2006, this reads as a foray into a popular European style of cuisine that is rarely seen in America and is non-existent in Indiana.
“With The Owner’s Wife, we really wanted to create a place where beer and food are more than just paired at the dinner table, they’re actually conceived to be together,” says Miller. “With Jonathan’s talents for elevating traditional dishes, he’s the perfect person to make that concept a reality.” According to a press release, “With influences ranging from Asian, Mediterranean and Latin and even German cuisines, the menu promises to have something for everyone.”
Another idea behind the food comes from Ted and Shannon's son Hunter. In the early days of Brugge he asked if he could create a soda with his entrepreneur dad, Ted. And so they did.
Hunter named his soda Bingham Beer after the Bingham Bear mascot of School 84, which of course was Hunter's school at the time and where his sisters eventually attended as well. Brugge charged $1.84 for the soda and donated $0.84 of every soda sold to School 84. They still do to this day and it has been a great success.
So when Hunter, who was born in Hong Kong, suggested serving the new brew pub's food offerings on a cart, dim-sum style, Shannon and Ted agreed. Look for Hunter to be the restaurant's first cart boy later this summer.
Jared Guy will be the bar manager and front of house manager. The Owner's Wife is jointly owned by husband and wife food/brew team Ted Miller and Shannon Stone. While you should expect Brugge and Outliers beers as offerings, you can also be prepared for an exclusive Owner’s Wife brand.
The beer lineup will change periodically, opening with Tripel de Ripple, Bad Kitty-Berliner, Blau Machen Pilsner, Grissette; County Brown, Buffalo Jacket IPA, Whitcomb Rye, Dunkelweizen, Milk Stout and Super Kitty Fantastico. There will also be a few cask beers available: American Premium Bitter, Milk Stout and Buffalo Jacket IPA.
A set date hasn't been announced for the official opening, however it will be within August of this year. Follow any and all updates by keeping up with the company on Twitter.