Bill Ficca Continues a Lasting Local Legacy at 317 Burger and None The Wiser Taproom
Writer / Ely Ayers
Photographer / Michael Durr
In an industry where a customer’s first impression is everything, local Indianapolis tavern 317 Burger, and its owner Bill Ficca, manage to make that impression a lasting one. Located inside the tavern is None The Wiser Taproom, an eclectic space serving a variety of brews from breweries both local and national. Since its opening in 2013, None The Wiser has established itself as a staple in Broad Ripple Village for its creative twist on traditional American menu items.
Though grounded in Broad Ripple Village, the identity and roots of 317 Burger and None The Wiser stretch throughout the city, and are tied to the history and love for the industry that Ficca carries.
“I can probably trace it back to my godfather,” Ficca says. “He owned the local bar in the coal-mining town that my father grew up in, in rural Pennsylvania. I always thought it was the coolest thing. I was a bartender in college in Washington, D.C., at a well-known bar, where I fell in love with the business.”
The seeds that Ficca’s personal history around food and beverage planted eventually blossomed into local restaurants that have served the Indianapolis community for decades.
“In 1998 I opened Bleecker Street with some partners because I thought Broad Ripple needed a grown-up bar or two,” he says. “I sold out of Bleecker Street in 2000, and then opened Usual Suspects in 2006. I also bought The Casba that year. A few years later in 2009, I, along with some great partners, opened Northside Social, and then would go on to open Delicia in 2013. The year 2013 is when I opened 317 Burger/None The Wiser.”
Though it is truly named after a rock band that Ficca’s friend played in, None The Wiser’s name, in a way, acts as a reference to the wisdom and experience gained through years of running a business. The name also speaks to the creativity and ingenuity that goes into developing interesting and unique menu items that reflect the rich history of the neighborhood, and the city as a whole.
“I wanted to create a thinking-person’s tavern that was in an area that, frankly, had become overrun by big-box sports bars that, in my opinion, belonged outside college campuses or stadiums, not in a village,” Ficca says. “We installed a manageable number of taps and pride ourselves on at least 13 or 14 of them always being local. We hired local decorative painting and mural company Blice Edwards to design an interior wall of quotes in a specific area of the tavern that we refer to as the Indiana Speakers’ Corner. That area of the tavern has quotes from Hoosier natives or people who lived and worked in Indiana.”
“We’re not necessarily an anti sports bar, but we definitely do look to appeal to a more niche crowd,” he continues. “We look to appeal to people that, for example, want to have a great burger in a bar setting, where the music and its volume suit the room – somewhere where the walls and quote corner are adorned with interesting and thoughtful items, and where the draft list is usually full of local choices.”
Ficca keeps one TV on a channel with a continuous loop of old reruns, which he says is an attempt to convey the message that they don’t take themselves too seriously.
“Some TVs do show sports, but we have as many people that will swing by with a laptop in the afternoon for a couple hours to get some work done as we do people that come in specifically to watch games,” Ficca says. “Many guests say they feel like they are walking into a bar in Chicago or other major cities.”
Ficca’s establishment even has a section with dart boards, and hosts Indianapolis resident Drew Perkett’s Broad Ripple Dart League.
“Drew Perkett is one of those rare people that links passion, organization and being a genuinely nice guy,” Ficca says. “He brings it out into the world. He has a vibrant league that plays and practices at our place during their season. I would describe the dart players as super-friendly folks that enjoy good food and beer, but also take their darts pretty darn seriously.”
After nearly a decade of successful operation in Broad Ripple Village with 317 Burger and None The Wiser, and nearly 25 years of serving the Indianapolis community, Ficca continues to evolve and successfully use his business acumen and creativity to help the cultural growth of the Indianapolis community.