Flatwater Restaurant Founder Mike Yount Talks Eight Years of Success In Broad Ripple
Writer / Jon Shoulders
Photographer / Michael Durr
Circumstances were conspiring toward the opening of Broad Ripple’s Flatwater Restaurant long before founder and co-owner Mike Yount purchased the space where the eatery sits on Westfield Boulevard back in 2009.
Yount had been working as a manager at Kona Jack’s on North Meridian Street, during which time he realized the restaurant industry was where he wanted to stay in the long-term. Prior to Kona Jack’s, Yount served as a manager at Shaffer’s Restaurant in Glendale where he worked under Greg Shaffer, whom he considers a mentor to this day.
“I have a great admiration for Greg and the whole Shaffer family,” says Yount, a North Central grad. “I admired how people would choose to come there to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays or whatever. I wanted to bring that close-knit feeling to wherever I ended up.”
Even as he was working his way up the company ladder at Kona Jack’s, from server and bartender to manager, Yount was keeping his eye on commercial properties that became vacant, intent on opening his own establishment whenever the right spot came onto his radar.
In the fall of 2009, Yount got word through a business broker that Canal Point Grill, the previous occupant of the current Flatwater space overlooking the Central Canal, would be shutting down. Not long after a walk-through of the space, he decided to take the plunge, and by the spring of 2010 Flatwater was open for business.
“I liked that the spot was a little separated from the bars and the party district, and even though it’s only a block away from that stuff it’s a totally different vibe over here on the canal on a Saturday night,” Yount says.
Yount seemed to find his stride immediately, staying true to his concept of only fresh, house-made cuisine and live blues and classic rock music several days a week through the spring and summer. By 2013 he’d brought on a partner in Allen Miller, a fellow local who’d joined the Flatwater team as a bartender a few years earlier.
“Allen is seven or eight years younger than me and reminded me a lot of myself when he came on,” Yount recalls. “He was working as a full-time manager within a month or so after coming on as a bartender, and he’s now a co-owner with myself.”
The Flatwater menu has evolved a great deal throughout its eight-plus years of existence, and Yount says being one of the first non-Mexican establishments in the area to offer a variety of nachos and tacos — including pulled pork, mahi-mahi and shrimp — helped to distinguish the restaurant from day one.
Appetizers including a house-smoked hummus, loaded fries and Korean lettuce wraps, as well as sandwiches like the smoked salmon wrap and the Hoosier pork tenderloin, add variety to the lunch and dinner offerings, and the brunch menu includes a breakfast burrito, Hoosier fried pork and huevos rancheros.
“We have a scratch kitchen, and we’re constantly adding and changing as far as the menu goes,” Yount says. “Our focus in the last three to five years has really been on the house-smoked meats. We have a nice, custom-built smoker out back and we do beef brisket, wings, ribs, rib tips, chicken quarters and pulled pork.”
Soon after opening, Yount began bringing in solo and duo acoustic musicians to liven up the open-air, dog-friendly atmosphere during warm months but eventually found that his bigger-than-expected crowds necessitated a full-band sound. Flatwater currently features cover and original bands Wednesday through Sunday from May to September.
Looking back, Yount says one crucial factor has sustained him through the stresses of keeping his establishment afloat — the people around him.
“It’s all about relationships with staff and co-workers and also with musicians, suppliers and local breweries in town,” he says. “My favorite part of the experience, hands-down, has been building those relationships.”
Flatwater Restaurant is located at 832 East Westfield Boulevard in Broad Ripple. Call 317-257-5466 or visit flatwaterbroadripple.com for additional information including a full menu and hours of operation.