Bar Louie Celebrates Grand Opening in Carmel

Writer / Jon Shoulders
Photographer / Amy Payne

Bar Louie’s newest Indiana location, nestled within Carmel’s Olivia on Main apartment complex near Old Meridian Street, clearly reflects what Managing Partner Frank Sweeney says is his company’s philosophy of making each and every one of its restaurants unique.   

“We call ourselves the un-chain, and what that basically means is that chain is a very dirty word to Bar Louie,” says Sweeney, who runs the Greenwood, Carmel and Mishawaka Bar Louie franchises with a Chicago-based ownership group. “We try to be the neighborhood bar in every market that we go into, and we build every Bar Louie to look completely different.” 

The restaurant officially opened in December of 2017 after several construction delays, and Sweeney says local officials, as well as the Carmel community at large, were supportive of the project since its inception.

“We were looking for a space in Carmel around the new development area, and the reason we chose the Olivia – apart from the fact that it’s a great development – is the industrial look and the spaciousness,” he says. “It has soaring 24-foot ceilings, and it’s such a unique space. My vision was to really create something completely different for Carmel. We have 1,200 square feet of mezzanine that we custom built with wrought iron and steel.”

A wrought-iron spiral staircase and a sliding glass window on the upper level that allows for open-air seating add to the unique aesthetic, and 14,000 bricks from demolished structures in Old Town, Chicago, were repurposed for the interior. A rain sensor on the outside pergola closes overhead louvers automatically with the onset of rain, allowing outdoor diners to enjoy their meals regardless of inclement weather.

Burgers, salads, flatbreads and unique appetizers like loaded tots and blackened salmon sliders round out the menu, along with a selection of margaritas, signature martinis and wines by the glass. Sweeney says many of the 35 beer taps will be devoted to local offerings.

“We’ll keep rotating out the beers, and we’ll bring in a ton of local stuff and try to include selections that people maybe haven’t seen before,” he says. “I plan to maybe bring some stuff down from some of the local breweries up in Mishawaka, so people down here can experience that too.”

Approximately 100 staff members were hired for the restaurant, and the interior capacity is just over 300 with an additional 100 on the patio. Sweeney stresses that while many eateries offer a limited bar menu after the dinner hour, all Bar Louie locations offer their full menu until 2:00 a.m. every day of the week.

“You can come in and get a full salmon entrée at one in the morning,” he says. “So, for those people at the Olivia that live right upstairs, if they get the munchies at midnight they can walk right downstairs and order from the full menu.”

Sweeney is hopeful that the new spot will become both a family favorite for lunch and dinner as well as a staple of Carmel nightlife.

“There are 2,000 apartments within a one-mile radius of us, between what’s there now and what’s coming in the future,” Sweeney says. “I think this is a time where Carmel is getting younger, with young professionals moving into a lot of those apartments. I think the night business is primed to take off around here, and we hope to be the epicenter.”

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