INDIANAPOLIS — Amanda and Tim Jones say if you're from East 10th Street, you wouldn't recognize the building that once housed "All That Jazz & Blues."
In September, the Jones' opened the long-awaited "The Mad Griddle" at 2127 E. 10th St., right next to Rabble Coffee and a few paces away from Woodruff Place.
It was the natural next step for the life and business partners after running The Mad Griddle food truck for about a year and a half. The couple completely gutted the building, added windows for much more natural lighting, and built an intimate one-step stage.
"You walk through these doors, the first thing you're going to say is, 'this is on 10th Street?!'" Tim said. "You just don't see it."
Mad Drinks, Mad Food, Mad Vibes
The playful and bright energy between Amanda and Tim is hard to miss. Whether you see the pair out serving food and drinks, or you don't — it's evident in the wide variety of events they host, the menu items they offer, and the decor around the venue.
Patrons can enjoy live jazz from some of the best in the business, acoustic performances, karaoke nights, throwback r&b and hip-hop, and even gospel music on Sundays. All to be enjoyed with made-in-house pizzas, spaghetti and meatballs, or wine-based slushies, and even a beer-based mimosa.
There's fun to be had from the lush green Instagrammable wall to the bar with a disco ball spinning above.
"We're both two very different, strong personality people. So he has his own vision for stuff, I have my own vision for stuff. We kind of just throw them all together and whatever sticks and whatever works is what we go through with," Amanda said.
"I'm in charge of the kitchen. She runs out here. And we try to not interfere," Tim said.
He added, "What we've created here is a vibe all in itself."
And if it doesn't match the vibe?
"We accept that fairly quickly, and we move on," Amanda said matter-of-factly.
One event that has stuck, for instance, is Sunday brunches with live gospel music and endless mimosas.
"We want to do it different," Tim said.
Even down to the food, everything on the menu must be considered "mad."
"Like, some of the dishes be good, but, then we'll sit, and we'll say, 'Nope, it's not mad,'" Tim said.
The Mad Risk
Amanda grew up in the St. Clair Place area and went to Arsenal Tech High School. She said, "I didn't have a place to go and hang out" after school and wants to change that for this generation of Arsenal Tech students.
"We had a birthday party, so we had a lot of ice cream leftover, so I was giving them rootbeer floats and pizzas and just talking to them, you know," Amanda said.
The Jones' say they took a risk and solely used their savings to invest in the renovations of the place. They say a contractor ran out on them before the job was finished, forcing them to do it themselves.
"You have to be willing to risk it all in order to go to the next level, I think, and sometimes — sometimes you win, sometimes you don't," Tim said.
It's a risk the chef and bartending duo are willing to take to bring something new to the near east side neighborhood, and Indianapolis in general.
"People want you to conform to the norm, and we're constantly pushing back," Tim started.
The Jones' say they faced challenges from local beer and wine distributors whenever they shared their vision of making wine-based or beer-based cocktails. It was hard to get distributors to even come out to The Mad Griddle.
"We would say, 'why would we keep doing that if it's not profitable?'" Tim said. "Because some people in this industry think that you should keep doing it until it is profitable. Well, what if that's 10 years from now?"
"We don't have 10 years," Amanda answered.
"It's boring to me, and The Mad Griddle is not boring," Amanda said of wanting not to do things because that's how business has traditionally been done.
Luckily, they were able to get into business with Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits and Big Lug Brewing, who, they say, have listened and helped them create the drinks they were looking to add to their menu.
"We could have just said, 'oh my god, this is not gonna be good,'" Tim explained. "Because sometimes we do get the you-only-have-beer-and-wine shame."
But now, the new restaurant owners are proud they stuck to their vision, not allowing the naysayers to get their voice through as The Mad Griddle continues to sell out of their wine slushies just about every weekend.
"I'm scared about the summer," Tim said. "I told [Amanda], I said, we're going to need at least six more machines."
Mad Heat, Mad Support
Running their own establishment together was a shared dream for the Jones', and although it's been a rollercoaster, they love the journey they're on.
"Shout out to all the customers that keep coming back and supporting us in this neighborhood over here," Tim said of the near east side. "Oh my goodness, they are the best."
Amanda and Tim look forward to the spring and summertime when they plan to open up their patio and have live music and entertainment that runs in the afternoon through the night.
"There's always something else," Amanda said. "There's always the next thing."
The Mad Griddle will soon have up-and-coming artists coming in to perform; once a month, they're doing clean comedy shows, wine and canvas, and an LGBTQ night.
You can follow their journey on Instagram to keep up with the Mad food, drinks, and events at The Mad Griddle.
The Mad Griddle
2127 E. 10th St.
Monday - Thursday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
WRTV Digital Reporter Shakkira Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on Twitter, @shakkirasays.