Nearly a decade to the day that he opened Goose the Market, the neighborhood gourmet grocery that revolutionized how locals think about charcuterie and put Indy on the nation’s artisan-meats map, Chris Eley will open a second beer-friendly sausage and sandwich counter inside Sun King Brewing’s tap room on College Avenue. Named Oca, which translates to “little goose” from Italian, the 225-square-foot spot will feature garnished sausage and sauerkraut platters, charcuterie boards, cheese plates, bratwurst, grab-and-go sandwiches, and snack packs. For customers who have elbowed their way into the perennially popular Fall Creek Place shop to get a pound of bacon or one of Eley’s famous spicy Batali sandwiches, they may wonder why he took so long to expand.
“I had lots of opportunities to open similar markets elsewhere,” Eley says, “but I liked the shop the way it is. I didn’t want to dilute what we did so well.” Eley, who followed up his retail spot with a spacious production facility, Smoking Goose Meatery, in Holy Cross in 2011, says he held off expansion of his original concept until he found a place where he was sure he could get things right. Sun King provided that fit. Eley provided snacks for Sun King’s original launch in 2009, and he has long been friends with co-founder Clay Robinson and its current president and co-owner, Robert Whitt. With recent makeovers to its tasting room and a captive audience of local beer and food lovers, Sun King seemed like a no-brainer for expanding his creativity and taking his prepared-food offerings to another part of the city.
Tucked to the right of the entrance inside the tasting room, Oca will feature Goose the Market’s familiar salumi and cheese samplers, as well as Eley’s versions of the hearty, made-to-share Alsatian staple choucroute garni with such meaty “garnishes” as smoked rib chops and knack, Nuremberg, and Strasbourg sausages. Those with a lighter appetite can opt for single sausages, such as a spicy currywurst with beet-potato hash and crab cocktail or an octopus, pork, and broccoli rabe sausage with pine nuts and fresh mozzarella—a play on the classic Italian orecchiette pasta dish.
Eley will also bring back the “Sasquatch,” a giant spud topped with ‘nduja, guanciale, ricotta, escarole, lemon, a duck egg, and pork rinds—a mammoth snack that was once a popular offering at the Smoking Goose. Sandwich lovers will be able to grab pre-made panini-style favorites they can eat cold or have warmed up in a press. And snack packs—which Eley sees as adult versions of Lunchables—will be stocked with salumi, cheese, Potter’s crackers, juicy Losada olives, and a tangy-sweet mostarda made with quince and apple. Customers will also be able to pick up sliced cured meats and cheeses cut to order, but Oca won’t be offering any fresh meats or produce.
While Eley is content to see the Sun King location as an experiment in expanding his brand, he is considering other retail spots such as the Indianapolis International Airport or other cities throughout Indiana and the greater Midwest. To that end, he’s brought on Mike Monaghan, recently of Irvington’s Tyner Pond Market and Good Earth, to run his new shop. Oca will also now be the preferred caterer for most events at Sun King, making your next party or office party even tastier. While it may have taken Eley 10 years to expand, it definitely hasn’t been without some serious forethought, which is all the more reason for beer lovers and foodies alike to get excited. Eley and his crew plan for a late-September opening to the public.