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December Foodie: Jake Burgess Of FoxGardin

Jake Burgess’s first restaurant, FoxGardin Kitchen & Ale in Fortville, opened to the 21-and-over crowd just 17 days after he signed the lease for the space in 2015. Fifteen months later, he was already running a busy second location in Fishers (the all-ages FoxGardin Family). And 15 months after that, he opened The Den inside Sun King Spirits in Carmel, turning out pork-tenderloin sliders, mussels, and crispy fried calamari a mere 34 days after he said yes to the invitation to join the two-story food hall. “I played sports growing up, and it’s that competitive spirit in me,” says Burgess. “I can do it. I can find a way.”

It’s a remarkable timeframe for a guy who commits to scratch cooking and the granular details of customer service, an approach he honed in gigs at the Omni Severin Hotel, The Capital Grille, Sensu, and Prime 47 steakhouses. “To have fine-dining service at a bar is virtually unheard of,” he says. “But at FoxGardin, guests don’t pour their own wine, water glasses are never half-full, and we have linens. We pay attention to details.”

The Den hosts a leaner version of the operation, with counter service and dishes served in 5 minutes, but Burgess remains laser-focused on technique and ingredients. One dish he doesn’t have to worry about: the gooey butter pie turned out by his mother, Jane, with its graham-cracker crust and smooth cream-cheese filling. “It’s funny to see people’s faces when they have it,” says Burgess. “It’s basically the greatest thing ever.”

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