We Meet Again: Peter George, Chef-Driven Restaurant Pioneer

He trained some of the top toques in town, and as the 60-year-old restaurateur prepares to open Tinker Street, his first venture in a decade, we filled in his family tree.
Before fine dining hit critical mass in Indianapolis, in those wine cooler–sipping days of the mid-’80s, Peter George moved from South Bend to open gourmet trailblazer Peter’s in a snug Fountain Square spot (which now houses Siam Square). “I was 30 years old. I had a lot on the line, and I took it very seriously,” says George, who was notoriously (even admittedly) difficult to work for. George later moved Peter’s to Keystone at the Crossing, opened an adjacent steakhouse named Chops, and eventually returned to the original Fountain Square location to open a casual spinoff, Bistro 936. But in 2003, he shuttered his businesses and spent a portion of the past decade working as a real-estate agent with Century 21. In the coming months, he will emerge from restaurant retirement to open a 72-seat vegetarian-friendly joint named Tinker Street. “One of the problems with the restaurant business,” he says, “is that it’s hard to get it out of your system.”
David Foegley, Executive chef at St. Elmo Steak House
Worked at the George family’s South Bend restaurant, Carriage House, in the late 1970s and eventually served as head chef at the original Peter’s. He stayed with the restaurant group for 16 years.
“We learned attention to detail through the school of hard knocks. If something didn’t look right, it came back, and you re-plated it. I’m still very detail-oriented to this day.”
Chris Eley, Owner of Smoking Goose Meatery and Goose the Market
Started at Peter’s in 1999, shared chef duties at Chops, and was part of the team that opened Bistro 936, where he became executive chef.
“When I started, I was still at Purdue University studying restaurant and hotel management. So I would drive down four days a week to work there at night. I just did it for the experience. That style of cooking was so different. It would be outdated today. But I learned that your last plate of the night needs to be as good as your first. No matter how tired you are or how long the day has been.”
Dan Dunville, Corporate chef at US Foods; Former head chef at Meridian Restaurant & Bar and 10-01 Food & Drink
Worked at Bistro 936 in late 2001.
“Peter was an amazing operator. The guy’s places were immaculate. I would have eaten off the floor—any part of the floor.”
Tony Hanslits, Executive chef at The Chef’s Academy; former executive chef at the now-closed Something Different, Tavola di Tosa, and 14 West
Hired in 1985 to become the first chef at the original Peter’s, where he worked for four and a half years.
“We did salmon chops there that I read about a couple of years ago in Cooks Illustrated. It was an article showing people how to make salmon chops, and I’m thinking, I did that nearly 30 years ago.”