INDIANAPOLIS — The morning Leviathan Bakehouse first opened its doors in the Chatham Arch neighborhood, all five of its owners forgot one important business factor — cash.
"Honestly, by the time we opened our doors, we still weren't ready to open," Pete Schmutte, pastry chef and co-owner of Leviathan, said, laughing."So, yeah, one of the first things we sold was a $10 cup of coffee."
Leviathan was a vision that Schmutte and fellow chef and co-owner Matt Steinbronn say had been a snowballing effort since 2012. And by the spring of 2019, when they found the perfect space for the bakehouse, that effort became real when their vision came to fruition.
"A lot of breaks have gone our way, but then again, a lot of breaks have not gone our way — considering a global pandemic," Schmutte said. "But by the time COVID really came around and made its presence known to all of us in a very real way ... there was no going back at that point."
All five partners of the newest Indianapolis bakehouse consider themselves bakers by trade with passion. Each came together because they value quality in an all-encompassing home that centers around baked goods
Opening Leviathan wasn't about competition or even carrying the best products in the city, Steinbronn said; it was about creating what they like and giving it a home.
"You can go just about anywhere and find eclairs, or croissants, or coffee cake ... those things exist all over Indy. But what didn't exist — and what I felt the five of us were poised to create — was a 'home;' A location that cares about each other, but also the product, and just the level of attention to detail transcends the product," Steinbronn said. "It's not just about 'we do the best pastry in Indy,' it's not about that, it's about we're doing the best that we can do personally and professionally."
Everything the owners do at Leviathan is based around baking and an oven. What's important to them, from a restaurant standpoint, is that every menu item incorporates their baked goods.
"We literally have someone here at all hours of the day; we'll see each other coming and going," Schmutte said.
"The bread is on a really tight schedule. The heating is regimented along the day so that the sourdough is ready and good to go at a certain time," Steibronn said. "All of it goes hand-in-hand. We're putting sandwiches on our bread, our croissant, or pastry — it all cycles back into itself."
When the pandemic swept in right as Leviathan was finalizing plans to open, it really provided more of a balance for the team of five.
"I would never want to put a positive spin on this at all, but, for us, it was a chance to take a breath and evaluate everything that we're doing," Schmutte said.
Luckily, the crew had already sourced income before the pandemic and had a solid business model that worked with COVID-19 safety guidelines. At that point, it was about preparing to make their mark.
"The five of us bring very different things to the table, but ultimately we meet in the middle on a lot of the most important things. Which really helped sculpt Leviathan into what it is and man, it's been such a journey," Steinbronn said.
"I feel like if you move any of the pieces (the partners), we would not be the place that we are," Schmutte said.
"I see a lot of people who put out 'we do the best this' and 'we do the best that,' and I'll say this, we won't say we have the best anything, but what it is is ours," Schmutte continued. "It's our stamp on everything that we put out. We're really proud of that."
1101 N College Ave
Tuesday - Saturday: 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday: 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Best sellers: The breakfast sandwich, which goes on a croissant that is made fresh every morning, the chocolate croissants, and porridge loaf.