Last fall, first-time restaurant owners Michele and David Dessauer quietly sold their adorably located Broad Ripple spot, Fire by the Monon (6523 Ferguson St., 317-252-5920), to seasoned restaurateur Tim Reuter. No stranger to the industry, Reuter, has made a business of resuscitating ailing bars and restaurants (having previously flipped the likes of Bourbon Street Distillery, Tip Top Tavern, Living Room Lounge, and The Stadium Tavern). Once at the helm, Reuter convinced Vicki Higuera, then the director of retail planning at the City Market, to leave her post and act as his co-owner.
Together, they started with the basics, immediately increasing the inside seating from 68 to 102, installing a fireplace outside (fire at Fire, get it?), and adding tables to the bar area. Then, there were the service improvements, particularly those complaints about wait times for drinks. In the former setup, servers had to make the drinks themselves between serving dishes. The new owners hired bartenders and moved the beer taps from the dining room into the bar, thus allowing the 21-and-under crowd access to the dining room again.
Drinks-wise, they decided to set themselves apart from the other Broad Ripple beer spots, purchasing a three-way liquor license and adding simple, small-batch cocktails as well as eight tap lines (making 16 in total). “I wanted the bar area to be a Tomlinson Taproom of the north,” says Higuera. Expect rotating taps with all the Indiana players.
Offering “quality ingredients not overly fussed with and not overly priced,” Fire does not claim to be a chef-driven restaurant. Much of the straightforward burger-and-flatbread menu remains the same as when the original owners assembled it, but now Reuter spends much of his time running the line in the kitchen, keeping an eye out for inconsistencies. They’ve added fish tacos (now the most popular item on the menu), and they have asked the cooks in the kitchen to work from recipes, as opposed to cooking from memory.
Nearly a year after the ownership change, we’ve seen a great improvement. The servers seem attentive and experienced. The Inferno burger (an Angus beef burger topped with aged cheddar, pulled pork, and an onion ring) is juicy and flavorful, perfectly complemented by the hand-sliced onion rings. The sweet potato fries, dipped in the housemade fireside dipping sauce, are ridiculously addicting. And fans of fried green tomatoes will want to try Fire’s crisp, tart rendition, served piping hot.