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Husband and wife Keith and Raquel were no strangers to the food industry when they met Keith Simpson, as they’ve been owners of a successful Indianapolis-area catering company for years. It was only after they decided to pursue a sit-down eatery that they looked to Buy This Restaurant for help in purchasing the ideal location. They toured three possible hot spots before ultimately selecting a 3,800-square-foot restaurant in Noblesville, Ind., that offered both room for a traditional service as well as a private area for catering.
FN Dish checked in with Keith a few months after he and Raquel bought their restaurant, now named The Ville Restaurant, to learn their plans for the business and to find out how the construction process is faring today. Read on below for an exclusive interview.
How is construction going on The Ville Restaurant? In what stage is the renovation, and when do you plan to open?
Keith: Things are going well with construction. … So far we have only completed light demo, but if all goes as planned we will open in June 2014.
What was the most-influential factor in you choosing the Corner Cafe over the former Mexican restaurant and Amici’s?
Keith: For us the most-influential factor was location. … To add to the great location, the Corner Cafe also has a second-floor mezzanine level where we can host private catered events.
What have been your greatest expenditures of the renovation so far, and have you stuck to your budget? In what did you invest the $70,000 you received from the landlord?
Keith: The biggest expenses will come in the kitchen, including hood installation, electrical/plumbing upgrades and kitchen equipment. … Sticking to the budget with all of these large expenditures has not been easy, but buying used equipment at local restaurant auctions has allowed us to stretch our budget. … We plan to use the landlord tenant improvement (TI) funds for structural changes, electrical/plumbing updates and finishing expenses.
What have been your greatest struggles and greatest successes as you work to open The Ville Restaurant?
Keith: Planning and budgeting is my greatest struggle because everything costs more than what you expect. Trying to control costs without cutting corners is a challenge on a small and limited budget. I have found success through my ability to purchase great equipment at auction prices and meet people who are willing to provide me with information to create my restaurant plan.
Are you sticking with Keith Simpson’s original design concept for the restaurant? What kind of new design updates are you making to achieve the family-friendly atmosphere you’re hoping for?
Keith: We are sticking with Keith’s original plan for the space. … The dining room layout allows for tables to be moved together for larger groups. The bar will be located in a separate room with its own entrance, and a new family dining entrance will be created near the opposite end of the building close to the kitchen. We … also plan to have kid-friendly menu options.
How do you envision running a restaurant kitchen to be similar to and different from working in your professional kitchen at home? How will you balance the demands of a restaurant and your existing catering company?
Keith: I have operated my catering company from my home-based commercial kitchen for about eight years. Despite [it] being a small business I ran my company like a big business. … Restaurant dining, catering and retail food sales will be run from the new restaurant. Operating from the restaurant will be more efficient than working from my home-based kitchen. I won’t have to climb a hill or stairs to load out for catered deliveries. I don’t have a commercial dishwasher at home. The restaurant will get food deliveries. I will be able to keep good staff because I have consistent work to pay them.
What dishes do you plan to offer in order to achieve your health-focused menu?
Keith: We plan to focus on dishes that not only taste good but are healthy for you, including options such as Chicken and Orzo with Mediterranean tomato salad, grilled fish and vegetarian fare. Gluten-free pasta is also an option we plan to carry.
Who do you envision will be your typical customers (neighborhood locals, carry-out orders, catering)?
Keith: Historic downtown Noblesville is a destination location, so I envision that The Ville’s typical dinner and Sunday brunch crowd will be a mix of neighborhood locals and Indianapolis patrons. Our lunch crowd will most likely come from local businesses such as the courthouse, and county and city offices, which are in walking distance to the restaurant. The demand for catering hall space exceeds availability in this area, so the mezzanine level will be marked for private events.
Keith, so far has the process of opening your first restaurant proved to be what you expected?
Keith: I am thrilled to be opening my first restaurant. This has been my dream since I was a young boy. The planning and budgeting has been stressful, but I am confident good planning up front will pay off in the end.
What are you most looking forward to in the future of The Ville Restaurant?
Keith: My dream is to see the restaurant filled with satisfied repeat customers. I am opening the restaurant to use my talents to support my family and secure our financial future.