Restaurant and Brewery Concept Finds Success in Warsaw
Writer / Amy Lant-Wenger
Photographer / Timothy Hare
Launching a new business can often be considered a gamble. Imagine trying to accomplish such a goal in the midst of a global pandemic.
Not only did Ledgeview Brewing Company Owners Craig and Abby McLaren realize such a vision, but they have also become a force in capturing the unique character of Hoosier cuisine with a leisurely vibe.
The owners are just shy of celebrating their first full year in business. As the lunch crowd ambles through on a typical weekday afternoon, many of the diners seek out the McLarens as they depart, offering praise and declaring that they will return. Already the establishment has a loyal following, and Ledgeview Brewing Company’s reputation for crafting some of the finest brews and most flavorful barbecue around is rapidly growing.
Abby is a native of Goshen, and upon completing a course of study at Indiana University, opted to travel east to further her education in culinary arts. While there she met Craig, who was also gathering knowledge and experience in a similar field. The couple eventually settled in Massachusetts and became parents to two children, now at ages 8 and 5.
Craig, by this time, had earned some prestige as a professional chef, and he was working full time creating dishes primarily within the hospitality field. All the while, he was carrying with him the wisdom of his mother, who had a talent for cooking as well. Craig recalls being about 12 years old and approaching his mother to ask for French toast, only to be told that he could prepare it himself.
“To this day she still can’t make it the same as me,” Craig says.
Eventually Abby thought that perhaps Craig needed a hobby, something to help him channel his energy while away from the rigors of his job. She gave him a gift that changed their lives tremendously – a home brewing kit.
As luck would have it, Craig not only thoroughly enjoyed creating his own styles of beer, but he was also quite excellent at it. Within a year, he was already receiving accolades for his brew. He christened this venture the Ledgeview Garage Brewery, appropriately named for the home base from which the beer was flowing.
It was around this time that Craig confessed to feeling a touch of burnout.
“The years of working at hotels was beginning to wear on me,” he says.
In sharing those sentiments with his wife, they pondered what they should do, and how to make it happen. It seemed quite logical and natural to them to combine their passions of cooking and brewing.
When Abby revealed that she and Craig were entertaining the possibility of opening their own restaurant, and further described the atmosphere and dining options they were considering, a friend informed them that a space occupied by a restaurant and brewery had recently closed in Warsaw. They visited the site and toured the building in fairly short order, and were impressed, although they had many questions.
“We knew it had the space we needed and the materials we needed, but we wanted to make sure the business was legit,” Craig says.
After becoming fully convinced, the McLaren family headed to Indiana – back home, in Abby’s case. Although the buying process was impeded by constraints related to the pandemic, the couple went straight to work renovating over a period of several months.It was a time that Abby humorously refers to as the “renew, reuse, recycle” period.Whenever possible, reclaimed materials were used, along with much of the original building design. Ledgeview Brewing Company officially opened for business in December of 2020.
The restaurant’s menu boasts many comfort food favorites such as chili, ribs, burgers and salads, as well as pulled chicken, beef and pork. Craig’s New England heritage is woven into his food preparation, as are hints of Indiana flavors, such as green beans and bacon, ranch potato salad, and sweet potato fries.
“This is a scratch kitchen,” Abby says.
Everything is prepared in-house with family recipes, and the beer menu is evolving with multiple choices.
Most guests come for the barbecue. Craig works to combine regional influences from Texas, St. Louis and Memphis. Diners can dig into the experience right inside the dining room, or they can request carry-out to indulge at home.
“We have a lot of ideas that we’re wanting to execute,” Craig says. “We want to become part of the local beer festivals and do more work with food trucks, and maybe add some music.”
The owners are also thankful for the guidance they’ve been given from other restaurateurs in the area.
“The community has been so welcoming and helpful,” Abby says.
Ledgeview Brewing Company is located at 975 Warren Street in Warsaw. For more info, visit ledgeviewbrewing.com or call 574-376-4445.