9th Street Bistro Making a Distinctive Culinary Mark
Writer / Jon Shoulders
Photographer / Whitney Williams
Noblesville’s 9th Street Bistro is the brainstorm of Rachel Firestone and Samir Mohammad, both of whom have plenty of experience in the restaurant industry – albeit in different capacities.
Firestone, a Lafayette native who has worked in arts administration and the nonprofit sector, met Mohammad, who previously worked all over the world in various chef capacities, in Colorado where they eventually teamed up to open Mohammad’s Artisan 206 restaurant in Breckenridge.
“I always had a passion for food and drink, and I always make cocktails at home and cook – I even thought maybe I should go to culinary school while I was going along in my career at office jobs, but then I met Samir and everything fell into place and he told me not to worry about going to culinary school,” Firestone says with a laugh. “He’s great at the chef aspects, and I handle the social media and business side. We work really well together.”
After opening Artisan 206, the couple began discussing a move to Indiana, closer to Firestone’s family. Soon the seeds of the 9th Street Bistro concept were planted in both of their minds.
“An opportunity came up to make the move here and we jumped on it,” Firestone says. “We love Indiana. We love the rural lifestyle, and we have a dream to one day have a big garden where we grow food that we can use to supply the restaurant.”
Last November, Firestone and Mohammad came to the Hoosier state to view the site that would become 9th Street Bistro and officially took over the space on January 1, 2020. A three-month remodel ensued, and Firestone says that from the beginning, the duo wanted to provide a cozy, intimate dining experience for patrons in an interior that Firestone describes as having an abundance of “rustic elegance.”
“It was important for us when looking for a space here to have character but be small enough to where we can interact and have a hands-on experience with our guests,” Firestone says.
The original plan was to officially open the eatery in early April, but the pandemic forced other plans on the owners. Nevertheless, Firestone says the situation prompted the couple to get creative, and they’ve been satisfied with 9th Street Bistro’s success so far.
“We had to think about what makes sense for our community and our business,” she says. “In this industry you have to be flexible.”
Such flexibility for Firestone and Mohammad included creating a ready-to-heat meal service, through which customers can place orders during the week and pick up those orders on Sundays.
“We call it Sunday Supper Club, and we change the menu every week,” Firestone says of the prepared meal service. “We have meals that are intended to be reheated at home. People can order online between Tuesday and Friday by 5 p.m., which is our cutoff. You drive down the alley next to our restaurant on Sundays to the back door, and we have contactless pickup. You don’t have to get out of the car.”
Dishes so far have included Duck and Andouille Sausage Paella, Sweet Corn Crab Chowder, Tabbouleh Salad, Pimento Cheese Spread, and Peach Upside-Down Cake among many others.
“We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback with the Supper Club and were a little surprised in particular for how much of a need there was for vegetarian dishes,” Firestone says. “We always have at least one vegetarian entrée on our menu. We still have the dream of opening the dining room that we originally envisioned and hiring a staff, and will do that eventually. Right now the two of us are doing everything ourselves.”
Firestone says one of her favorite aspects of being part of the Noblesville community is establishing relationships with fellow small businesses and vendors – particularly when it comes to sourcing the restaurant’s ingredients.
“We care about where food comes from and how it’s grown,” Firestone says. “We have developed a great relationship with some local farmers – Redwine Family Farms in particular – and we love driving over to their farm every week to pick up produce that was harvested that morning. Our ever-changing menu centers around what ingredients are in season and available. For example, we’re making Sweet Corn Crab Chowder and using heirloom carrots and green beans in our paella.”
Firestone and Mohammad are waiting out the current state dine-in capacity restrictions for restaurants until they can operate at 100% capacity.
“It’s a small space, so economically it makes more sense to wait until we can be full for dine-in,” Firestone says. “We’re really excited for when that time comes.”
9th Street Bistro is located at 56 South 9th Street in Noblesville. For more info, call 317-774-5065 and visit 9thstbistro.com.