Crafters Pizza and Drafthouse Serves Distinctive Pies and More
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Amy Payne
When you step inside Crafters Pizza and Drafthouse, you’ll see a huge portrait of Anthony Bourdain with the words, “Explore the world.”
It’s a mantra that owner Brian Hall lives by. In fact, he and his wife Alexis take foodie trips every chance they get, engaging in a food tour of every city they visit – usually three or four per year.
“You eat the food in the city and talk about it, while also learning about their culture at the same time,” Hall says. “You feel like you leave the city and know the people.”
The Bourdain portrait is a way of telling his customers to eat, be happy, and talk about food.
“I want to be that place people go to share food with family, friends and neighbors,” Hall says.
Crafters is a family sports bar with casual dining. Hall stresses that it’s not just a pizza place, but rather a scratch kitchen that happens to serve pizza.
“People think ‘pizza place’ and assume everything is in a bag – that we throw it on there and cook it – but that’s not what we do,” Hall says. “We make our own sausage, shred our own cheese, make our own dressings, pickle our own onions, candy our own walnuts, and cut our own veggies.”
Inside there are no neon signs or 32-ounce beer mugs. Hall purposefully stayed away from anything that felt what he describes as “too bar-y.”
“Husbands are easy to attract,” Hall says. “I wanted to be the place where the wife or daughter or lady suggested going because the place is nice and clean.”
Their gourmet salads are served in porcelain bowls rather than cardboard or plastic containers. They have lots of televisions on the walls for game viewing, but the sound is not blaring.
“I didn’t feel there were any classy family sports bars in the area, and I wanted to fill that void,” Hall says.
Crafters sells hand-tossed, tavern-style pizzas with signature fried dough, cauliflower crust or gluten-free crust. They are also heavy on appetizers like dry-rubbed wings and house-made double-decker chips.
“Most of our food items are meant to be shared,” Hall says. “In fact, we call our appetizers ‘shares’ and ‘social plates’ as opposed to appetizers.”
This includes dips, breads, and items that come with a spoon for sharing. In addition, they have 24 draft beers on tap, many of them local, including their own beer called Craft Draft. Since their concept is from Carmel, they have an extensive bourbon list, including their own bourbon.
Hall and his staff try to push customers outside their comfort zone to try various ethnic foods on their pizza. They recommend ordering a half-and-half pizza, including half with something familiar and half with something new.
“People think pizza is red sauce and pepperonis, but it can be so much more,” Hall says. “Pizza is bread. It’s a blank canvas.”
Crafters offers a program through which customers are invited to take a photo with an empty Crafters pizza box anywhere in the world, and bring it back to get their picture on the establishment’s wall and earn a Crafters gift card.
“The idea is, you tell me about your trip and the food items you loved,” Hall says. “I look at their menu and am inspired by your travels.”
Also, if a customer brings a bumper sticker back from a brewery or restaurant and sticks it up in the men’s restroom, Crafters will buy that customer dinner.
“It’s another fun way to talk about food, beer and travel,” Hall says. “We explore the world through food.”
The normal indoor seating capacity is 220. During warm months, customers can also relax on the big outdoor patio where lounge seating is available.
“It’s a chill hangout spot where folks can talk about food, beer, bourbon and their next vacation destination,” Hall says.
Though COVID-19 has affected travel, Hall and his wife look forward to taking more foodie trips in the near future.
“When I’m on vacation, I’m enjoying myself but am still at work because I’m thinking, ‘This is delicious. How can I get people in Indiana to try this?’” Hall says. “A lot of people in Indiana think it’s dangerous to eat street food in Mexico, but if you put it on a pizza and present it in a comfortable environment in Carmel, they say, ‘Oh, I’ll try anything!’”
Crafters Pizza and Drafthouse is located at 2430 East 146th Street in Carmel. For more information, call 317-798-2056 or visit craftersdrafthouse.com.