New BRU Burger Bar Opens In Noblesville
Writer: Jon Shoulders
Photographer: Amy Payne
That’s been Mike Cunningham’s philosophy each time he’s opened a new BRU Burger Bar location, including his latest on Westfield Road in Noblesville, which opened April 2.
Last spring Cunningham, founder and CEO of Indy-based Cunningham Restaurant Group (CRG), sat down to a business lunch with Noblesville Deputy Mayor Steve Cooke, who suggested he consider opening an eatery in Noblesville’s downtown district.
“Typically when we’re looking for BRU locations, we’re looking for a decent daytime pop, with plenty of bedroom community rooftops to support us in the evening,” Cunningham says. “We felt like Noblesville fit that in the downtown area, especially with what funnels down from Morse Reservoir and places like that. With the downtown work population, we thought that we could get enough at lunchtime to make it work. It seemed like a good fit for us.”
The 6,000-square-foot eatery, which sits on the first floor of the BlueSky Technology Partners headquarters building and seats approximately 140 diners, features a family-friendly, contemporary ambiance with outdoor dining space for warm months.
BRU patrons can choose from a wide selection of burgers, from classic preparations like the Beginning Burger, with comes with American cheese, mayo, mustard and ketchup, to the End Burger, loaded with horseradish havarti, an over-easy egg, tomato, caramelized onions, lettuce and truffle aioli. Six salads, desserts and specialty appetizers like barbecue nachos and roasted jalapeño mac and cheese are also offered.
“The response from the town has been outstanding,” Cunningham says. “Everybody has been excited and welcoming. We staffed up the restaurant pretty easy. Training went extremely well and we’ve gotten a lot of nice feedback from our guests and our team members. (BlueSky co-founder and CEO) Todd Irwin and the people at BlueSky have been helpful along the way.”
BRU Burger’s flagship location on Mass Ave has won several awards since opening in 2011, including Best Local Burger from NUVO in 2014, Best Burger from the Indy A-List contest in 2014, and inclusion in Indianapolis Monthly’s 10 Best New Restaurants in 2012. In 2016, BRU’s Honey Chipotle BBQ Burger – which comes overflowing with bacon, cheese, onion rings, pulled pork, and black pepper mayo – was named the most over-the-top burger in Indiana by Esquire.
“I think our success with BRU Burger starts with the food,” Cunningham says. “There are plenty of options on the menu – we have our gourmet burgers but we also offer our salads and some other options for those who don’t want to eat hamburgers every day.”
CRG, the company responsible for several other successful restaurants throughout Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, including Stone Creek Dining Company, Vida, Charbonos, Moerlein Lager House and Mesh, sources from several Indiana farms for its ingredients, and last year the company opened its own 7,800-square-foot hydroponic greenhouse on Indy’s southside.
“The demand for locally grown product has been here for a while and it’s not going anywhere, so we’re happy to oblige and get on board with it as much as possible,” Cunningham says.
The company recently built a 10,000-square-foot raised-bed garden near its Indy headquarters, from which CRG chefs will be able to source produce for the company’s downtown restaurants. Proceeds from the garden will benefit Meals on Wheels.
CRG plans to open three additional BRU Burger locations this year in Lafayette as well as Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, and Westerville, Ohio. In June the company is slated to open Nesso, a coastal Italian eatery concept, at Indy’s Alexander hotel in a space previously occupied by Cerulean.
Cunningham feels the BRU concept has flourished in Central Indiana and beyond due to its combination of affordable menu items and a unique decor that features upscale touches.
“We feel like we over-deliver for the price point that we are offering,” he says. “For example, you can order a $9 hamburger, but you’re sitting at a granite bar top or a solid walnut tabletop with an upholstered chair. The furnishings and the feel of the place are much more upscale than what the price point suggests. I think that offers a value to people that tends to bring them back.”
BRU Burger Bar is located at 350 Westfield Road, Suite 100, in Noblesville. Call 317-764-2510 or visit bruburgerbar.com/noblesville for more info.