It’s a bit tough to fully describe the concept behind Books & Brews, a locally-owned, family-friendly business with nine locations in Indiana and Ohio. And Keith Fechtman, co-owner of the company’s South Indy location near the University of Indianapolis, is fine with that.
“The great thing is that Books & Brews isn’t any one thing,” he says. “You can do so much here – play a board game, have a drink and a meal and just socialize. We’ve had so many different events like a magic show, appearances from princesses from famous movies, music, karaoke, bingo, trivia nights, sports nights – anything you can think of. For Valentine’s Day, we have a Harpist playing Love songs with a white tablecloth setting and do reservations, which we don’t usually do.”
Prior to his involvement with Books & Brews, Fechtman spent six years in the restaurant business at Arby’s as a regional supervisor for eight stores.
“During the time with Arby’s I just enjoyed the people and the employees, teaching them and knowing that it was a lot of those kids’ first jobs,” Fechtman says. “It was great to be able to mentor them and influence their lives.”
A couple of years ago, Fechtman visited the Books & Brews Broad Ripple location with his daughter Paisley and was immediately struck by the store’s concept and surroundings.
“We had the time of our lives,” he recalls. “It was a Friday night and I got to drink a local beer, we ate some food, and we played Chutes and Ladders and another game. There was live music too, and my daughter wanted to dance so we danced for a little bit. It was a unique and memorable experience.”
Fechtman subsequently struck up a conversation with Books & Brews founder Jason Wuerfel about the ins and outs of opening a franchise. At the time, Fechtman felt that such an endeavor might involve more time and money than he was willing to put in, but timing would ultimately play a crucial hand in his Books & Brews journey.
Last summer, Fechtman asked a friend named Dave Christy, with whom he currently co-owns Books & Brews in South Indy, if he’d ever considered owning a restaurant. When Fechtman mentioned the name Books & Brews, Christy was intrigued.
“It turns out Dave’s son and his girlfriend were going there once a week and loved the place,” Fechtman says. “At that point, I think we were both ready to pursue a franchise.”
Christy and Fechtman, both Center Grove residents, explored the possibility of purchasing the Broad Ripple location, but heard the South Indy spot near the University of Indianapolis had become available around August of 2019. As a graduate of the university, Fechtman felt it would be fun and only right to buy a Books & Brews franchise so close to the school, and he and Christy officially became owners on September 1 of last year.
“Two of Dave’s granddaughters go to the university as well, and it made sense to take the location over,” Fechtman says. “We did some research for a couple months and felt it was a great opportunity.”
The food menu at the South Indy location consists of items common to all nine Books & Brews stores – you’ll find apps like the Frankenstein charcuterie plate and the Oliver Twist pretzel with beer cheese, as well as sandwiches like the Hemingway (ham, capocollo, provolone, spicy mustard and pickles) and the Return of the King (grilled cheese with smoked gouda, cheddar and provolone).
“We also do some special menu things that are unique to us, like a chili we did recently,” Fechtman adds. “We’ll be doing some new desserts coming up. We’re always looking for ways to keep things fresh and different. People don’t just want to go out and eat anymore – they want to have an experience.”
The drink menu typically consists of five to 10 rotating local beers in addition to in-house selections like the Stout of Monte Cristo (an oatmeal stout), the Winnie (a honey brown ale) and the Three Hopsketeers (an India pale ale).
You’ll find more than 5,000 used books all $3 each and 10% supports Indy Reads a local Non-Profit and more than 100 board games to choose from at the South Indy location as well.
Fechtman hopes to continue the wide-range of special events and theme nights at his and Christy’s establishment.
“It’s just been a blast because we do such a variety of things here,” he says. “We had a variety show that the University of Indy theater department put on, and we do sports stuff like NCAA selection nights. We see all ages play Battleship and Checkers in here. It’s great to have a place for kids to hang out have food, drinks, and a memorable experience too .”
Books & Brews is located at 3808 Shelby Street, Suite 1 in Indianapolis. Hours of operation are Mon. Through Thurs. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fri. And Sat. 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Sunday 12 pm. to 8 p.m. For more information including a menu, daily specials and updates on special events, call 317-438-5151, follow on Facebook facebook.com/bnbsouthindy/go to booksnbrews.com/south-indy.