Local Artist Turned Restaurateur

Broad Ripple resident artist and restaurateur Gina Rosenow allows her compassion to shine through.

Whether she is painting a mural, saving stray animals, or rescuing a restaurant, Gina follows her heart. Her committed appreciation for small communities, neighbors, animals, art, comfort food and motorcycles make her an admired member of the Broad Ripple community.

Gina and her husband, Tom, have called Broad Ripple home since 2000. In 2009, Gina moved her artist’s studio out of her basement and into a shared space with Mike Usher, owner of Architectural Restoration, Inc. Their studio is tucked away in SoBro, off 54th Street, near the Monon Trail and Reese Kitchens. The exterior is decorated by murals, done in brilliantly chosen colors, depicting dogs and of course motorcycles.

Gina, a self-taught artist, considers the community her true canvas. She does murals and decorative finishes for homes and businesses. Largely, her commissions are mostly through word of mouth.

Gina jumps into projects feet-first. This modus operandi influenced her opening A2Z Café.

Gina and her husband love going to small, independently-owned mom and pop style restaurants, frequently taking their motorcycles out to small towns just to try new places. Locally, they frequented JT’s Bar and Grill, just down the street from her studio, as well as the A2Z Café, on 96th Street, where she often displayed her art.

Just like her art, with no prior experience in the restaurant business, she dove in feet first. Discovering that both of their favorite hangouts were in flux, Gina was distraught. Unable to save them both, she opted for A2Z.

Riding behind Tom on their Triumph Bonneville motorcycle, Gina yelled into Tom’s ear, “HEY, why don’t WE buy A2Z?” This impulsive act almost caused him to veer off the road. In spite of everyone thinking she was crazy, she bought A2Z Café in August and opened the doors on Oct. 1, 2014.

In her own way, Gina feels like she saved the best part of JT’s, for she hired JT’s owner, Tim Paxson, as her general manager. With the new lease on life for A2Z, October was a record-breaking month.

As with any business, unforeseen events occur, and on Nov. 11, a fire close the café for 11 days.

“The fire knocked me back to a state of humility,” shares Gina. “We had this banner month, we were on a high, and bam!”

To cope with the setback, Gina dusted off a pair of tap shoes and danced around her studio listening to “Tainted Love.”

“I dare anyone to stay in a funk while dancing with tap shoes on!” says Gina.

A social restaurateur, Gina gains the same exhilarating feeling from greeting her patrons at A2Z. Her thoughtfulness and caring are a tribute to her parents, particularly her father, Dr. Luciano Musngi.

Musngi was a caring physician in Pendleton, who would sometimes trade his services for produce, eggs and meat, from the local farmers. He also made house calls and had personal relationships with his patients. Gina remembers him accepting trades graciously, teaching her the lesson that “no one should think he/she is more important than anyone else.”

In such a short time, the community has grown to acknowledge this café as something exceptional. A couple came in to dine for a birthday meal and were so inspired that the gentleman returned and asked Gina if he could use the café, outside of normal business hours, to ask his girlfriend to marry him. The date set for the proposal was the night before the grand reopening. The renovations were completed just in time to accommodate the special request.

Gina loves personal relationships like this example. Her strong sense of community service is present in her business, as she recently hosted a “Canvas for a Cause” event. All proceeds went to charity. She hopes to host many more events to help those in need.

A2Z Café is located at 4705 E. 96th St., 96th and Gray Road.

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