Owning and running several successful restaurants and breweries in the area was never the original plan for Nathan and Leah Huelsebusch. When the couple first moved to Johnson County, they immediately recognized Bargersville’s potential for growth. They loved frequenting breweries, but at the time they had to travel downtown or to the north side of Indy to find one.
“We looked at ourselves and said, ‘We can either complain about this problem or we can do our part to fix it,’” says Nathan, whose background is in finance and accounting.
So they opened a brewery.
“When you see the incredible growth and the number of houses going up, it’s clear that there is a community that’s desperate for this,” Nathan says. “Bargersville has these silos and older buildings, and a very cool downtown that’s ripe for supporting continued expansion.”
The couple opened Taxman Brewing Company on South Baldwin Street in 2014. In November of 2022 they opened Pizza & Libations, demolishing the entire building on North Baldwin Street and rebuilding it from the ground up. They also purchased the Masonic lodge next door. Passionate about redevelopment preservation and restoration, the pair cored out the lodge, which was built in the early 1900s, keeping all of the structural components from the original building including the exposed rafters. Doing so provided a rustic yet modern feel. They then installed colorful tiles to incorporate shades of teals and tans. In addition, the custom wine wall adds industrial elegance.
While both Nathan and Leah are born Midwesterners, having grown up in Ohio, they delight in travel. They lived in Belgium for three years. It was a slice of their life that proved to be inspiring.
“It’s eye opening to see the way different communities and different countries operate,” Nathan says. “It’s fascinating how these older countries that were established in a time before you had mass infrastructure and mass transit, and the way the communities thrived around the downtown area and the variety of shops that still exist because of that. It makes such a diverse ecosystem in each of those small towns.”
Leah and Nathan loved the way these ecosystems are reliant on themselves, where every little neighborhood has a little grocery store, bakery, market and cheese shop.
“Seeing how local you can truly be inspired us,” Leah says. “We wanted to bring that local element into our restaurants, producing these little infrastructures that allow people to live, shop and stay in the zip code where they live.”
The couple’s latest venture, Cellar’s Market, as well as an upstairs lounge called Up Cellar, aims to generate additional foot traffic in Bargersville. That’s what Nathan and Leah long to do – craft the sense of community they saw in Belgium.
As a town, Bargersville is doing a lot to improve the trail system, park system, and downtown programming in terms of live music and farmers markets.
Working together as a community, I think we can create a really special place,” Nathan says.
The Cellar’s Market bakery offers a European flare, selling fresh, artisan breads, croissants, baked goods and European pastries. During breakfast and lunch hours, it operates like a cafe and offers casual, to-go foods that people can grab on their way to work. In the evening, customers can expect gelato, dessert cocktails, wine tastings and more.
“It’s a warm, inviting space that people want to work from, yet it has enough flair that if you’re looking for a place to celebrate a special occasion, the space supports that as well,” Leah says.
Creating a commissary kitchen is something the Huelsebusches have desired since opening their second restaurant. The bakery is already producing fresh pretzels, buns and pasta for all their locations. In the long term, the duo looks forward to continuing to expand their commissary offerings by adding house-made gelato, pastries and more.
The Up Cellar, located upstairs, is an upscale steakhouse and wine bar, that offers a small, curated seasonal menu. The 2,200-square-foot space, which can accommodate 100 people inside in addition to between 30 and 40 on the rooftop deck, can be rented out for private events.
One might wonder how the Huelsebusches are able to run so many successful businesses at once. They say they owe it all to the incredible team they have built.
“We’re trying our best to cultivate culture internally where people are pushing themselves to grow, and we are constantly trying to do some form of innovation,” Leah says. “Plus, we’ve come to realize that in order to keep great people, we have to always have something for them to grow into – always a challenge ahead of them so that they never feel like they are at the peak of their career in their current role.”
Every year on the Saturday after the tax filing deadline, the Huelsebusches host an event at Taxman Brewing called “Death & Taxes Day.” It was also inspired from their time in Europe.
“When we lived in Belgium we filled our calendar with incredible beer festivals,” says Leah, joking that they can order beers in many different languages. “We thought it would be fun to host a laid-back craft beer and music festival in downtown Bargersville.”
The first year they held the event, they invited a dozen breweries to participate. Roughly 500 community members showed up, which they deemed rather successful. Every year since, they have expanded the number of breweries that participate. Attendance has also grown, and last year the event attracted a crowd of 2,500. This year they plan to shut down all of Baldwin Street since they have restaurants on both ends of the street. This will expand the festival grounds by 50%. It means they can have stages on either end of the street, which enables them to bring in additional bands.
“We’re expecting upwards of 50 breweries and distilleries as well as local wineries,” Nathan says. “As a result, we expect in the realm of 3,000 to 4,000 people to show up.”
In addition to expanding their businesses, in 2022, the Huelsebusches welcomed their first child, Henry. While Henry may not know what a beer festival is just yet, at 1 year old he’s already a seasoned traveler, having visited Italy, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Maine, Massachusetts, Florida and New Hampshire. It’s great that Henry is such a traveler since the Huelsebusches have friends all over the world.
“Sometimes we see our friends who live abroad more than the friends down the street because we’re really intentional with our meet-ups,” Leah says.
Henry was just three months old when he took his first trip to Italy because Nathan and Leah had a wedding to attend. At first they assumed it would be too much, but then they reconsidered.
“We thought, ‘Hey, we can be sleep deprived anywhere. Might as well be sleep deprived with a great view,’” Leah says.
Cellar’s Market is located at 55 Baldwin Street in Bargersville. For more information, call 317-771-3165.