FOR THE PAST 30 years, Zach Wilks has worked in restaurants at every level, from busboy to front-of-house manager, eventually settling in behind the bar. He was one of the original owners of Mass Ave’s Ball & Biscuit cocktail bar and helped create the Wilks & Wilson line of bottled pre-Prohibition elixirs. Most recently, he ran the bar program at Anthony’s Chophouse in Carmel, pouring bespoke Negronis and smoked Old Fashioneds worthy of the high-end restaurant’s Butcher’s Reserve steaks.
At the same time, this seasoned mixologist amassed a vinyl collection in the thousands and perfected his guitar skills as a “couch musician,” as he calls himself. Eventually, his two passions would make him uniquely qualified to take on a groundbreaking project, The Cradle at Monon 30. As vice president of operations for the mixed-use outdoor venue at the intersection of 30th Street and the Monon Trail, Wilks brings in local entertainers and food vendors who work the Thursday–Sunday evening block parties amid the brightly painted pallets and shipping containers. Part of his job involves pairing businesses like Queso’s Mexican Bar & Grill and Gordon’s Milkshake Bar with the entertainment. The other part of his job is to hype the Martindale-Brightwood venture that debuted in June. Not surprisingly, he’s good at that, too. “We want to focus on up-and-coming local chefs and give them opportunities to get their name out there,” says Wilks. “We have close to 30,000 square feet of warehouse space that we’re converting into event spaces. There are just so many different things that we can do out there.” So stay tuned.