When it comes to restaurant openings, this has been a terrific summer in Indianapolis, with enough new places to keep diners busy for weeks.
And more new spots are on the way.
From Colts to Southern food
Former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Gary Brackett says his new restaurant, Georgia Reece's Southern Table & Bar, is on track to open in August at 3454 W. 86th St. Brackett, who is also a partner in area Stacked Pickle locations, said he's been developing the Georgia Reece's concept for a while.
"Because we don't have anything like this in the city," Brackett said, "so I felt like it was a great opportunity to start something new, something fresh and kind of create something. So that's where the concept came from. It's southern, it feels good, it reminds us of home."
Indy native and former Kiss Z Cook chef Dwight Simmons will be executive chef at the new restaurant.
"When I heard we were doing a southern-themed restaurant, I got really excited about it," Simmons said. "It's something I've always to do, so it's right up my alley."
Simmons describes it as "sort of semi-casual, sort of upscale southern food."
Brackett, who said he grew up on traditional southern fare, said diners can expect a bit of a spin on old favorites.
"I think chef Dwight really put his twist on a lot of items," Brackett said. "Some items won't be your traditional southern items, but there will really be something on the menu for everyone to come in and enjoy."
Including, he said, vegetarian dishes and gluten-free items. "We have a lot of options, which is great," Brackett said. "I'm excited to see how it's received."
And he did mention on dish in particular. "These are a lot of my favorites," Brackett said of the Georgia Reece's menu, "but the alligator gumbo will definitely be one of the talks of the town when that comes out."
R bistro to go
Mehallick, who opened the highly regarded R bistro 13 years ago at 888 Massachusetts Ave., has stepped out of the kitchen and will be opening a carry-out market at 1101 N. College Ave., a building that was built in 1927 and is currently undergoing renovation.
The chef hopes to open the market in September. "That's why I have to step away from R bistro," she said.
The new market, to be called R2GO, will stock deli meats and cheeses, homemade chicken stock, tomato sauce, meatballs and meals to go, said Mehallick.
She'll also have a small freezer section as well as fresh produce. A counter area will offer a small number of seats, she said, for those ordering sandwiches or salads. Food will be prepared in the market's commercial kitchen.
Unlike Goose the Market, the butcher shop and specialty market at 2503 N. Delaware St. that also offers a small sandwich menu, Mehallick won't be carrying raw meats or wine and beer.
R2GO will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m to 5 p.m. Saturday. While Mehallick said she is looking forward to not working evenings, "I'm a little skeptical about leaving the kitchen," she said. "That'll be a hard thing."
Mehallick, who will remain as owner of the award-winning R bistro, which recently eliminated lunch service, expects to still be in and out of her restaurant office. "And I'll be here in the evenings to talk to customers," she said.
Erin Kem is taking over as executive chef as Mehallick turns her attention to getting the market open.
The R bistro menu will continue to change weekly, said Kem, and the restaurant will maintain its focus on using local seasonal ingredients.
"I can't envision any real big changes," Kem said. "Maybe more of my family favorites and ethnic favorites. More of my love of Middle Eastern foods. That's possible."
For Kem, who has had input into menu planning and has handled the restaurant in Mehallick's absence, taking over as executive chef is exciting but not daunting.
"I've been here for 10 years, so I've invested a lot of myself in the place as it is," Kem said. "It's like a natural progression."
News and notes
And in other restaurant news, Alan Sternberg left the Cunningham Group's Mesh on Mass Ave. in May for the executive chef position at Cerulean. Jessica Selkirk left Bluebeard earlier this month to join Cerulean as sous chef; Jake Boyd is the new general manager.
Back at Mesh, Jessica Sciortino is now executive chef, and Layton Roberts has moved to Union 50, another Cunningham restaurant at 620 N. East St. And Jeremiah Clark left Plum's Upper Room this past spring to work as sous chef at Cunningham's Stone Creek Dining Company in Noblesville; he's now executive chef.
Ed Sawyer has left The Alexander and returned to the Neal Brown Hospitality Group as a chef at the Mass Ave. Pizzology, Dean Sample is now executive chef at Meridian Restaurant and Bar, and Braedon Kellner has left Oakleys to work for Peter George and Tom Main at their new Tinker Street restaurant, which should open late this summer at 16th and New Jersey streets. George and Main have also closed on the purchase of a building across the street from Tinker Street; it will also be a restaurant, but the two aren't yet talking about details or staffing.
Jolene Ketzenberger covers local food at EatDrinkIndy.com. You can follow her on Twitter @JKetzenberger.