Black Circle Brewing Bears Burden of Early Success, Begins Tap Room Expansion

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

Oh, the burdens of success. As John Hersey wrote in 1974, this is a petition for more space. If you are very good at what you do and you treat people with kindness and respect, then eventually you’re going to need more space. If you’re a brewery and your beer is great and the food is great, then most likely you’re going to need more space sooner rather than later.

Black Circle Brewing and the Cuban restaurant Elena Ruz have only been open since October, 2016 but they share a taproom just west of Keystone Avenue on 46th Street as cooperating businesses. Black Circle is 1/3 music venue, 1/3 brewery and 1/3 craft beer bar/pub, while Bob Graham’s Elena Ruz has a kitchen next door, so you order your beer on one tab and your food on another, but they will serve you right where you have your beer, whether it be at the bar, outside, or at one of the many pinball machines ringing the taproom.

It was apparent from very early on that the taproom at Black Circle will be, at times, insufficient for the crowd that comes to drink their beer. The dining room will help alleviate at least one space problem. Photo credit Jordan H. on Yelp

Dan Gayle and Jesse Rice had certain projections for Black Circle when they opened, as did Bob for Elena Ruz, yet the reviews (the vast majority of of them…..let it go Jesse) and the word of mouth have blown those projections out of the water. I knew that the brew house was too small the first time that I tasted the beer, but the more immediate limitations on continuing to blow the projections out of the water are seating, hours, and a family friendly space for eating and lounging.

To alleviate these problems and fix some of the space problems (get rid of the employee lounge and start ordering fermenters, Dan) Elena Ruz and Black Circle are opening a family dining room immediately to the north of the taproom and kitchen. You will still enter at the main doors on the east side, but then you will have an option of the taproom or the family dining room.

The space for a dining was available in the Refinery 46 building, which was a bit lucky. The owners are getting ready to open a collaborative entrepreneurial workspace for “growing firms in home services and trades, so space is at a premium.” The dining room will also be opportunity for Black Circle and Elena Ruz to provide products and services for these companies, either in the taproom, the dining room, or with catering in the collaborative space. The two businesses will remain separate no matter how closely they work together, but you won’t really notice any separation until you pay the bill and get two itemized tabs. Big deal.

The space for the dining room has two huge windows for natural light, and the patio might also be extended to include the new space. It would be nice if a hole could be cut and a window installed so that people can see the brew house from dining room, but you can’t have everything. Seating for 55-60 will be a huge bonus for food sales and for beers ales, but there are other benefits as well. Private events will be possible, as will be catered events for Elena Ruz.

It isn’t only Black Circle’s success that has rendered the space too small. Too bad you can’t smell appetizer sampler from Elena Ruz, you’d get in your car right now. Photo credit: Elena Ruz

Scheduled to open in late August, a party is in the wings to celebrate. On August 26th, the “Black Circadian Block Party” will bring the neighborhood together from 10am to 6 pm, and will also serve to show off the new kid friendly dining room (there might even be a show for the children). Smoking Goose is coming to show folks how to butcher a whole hog for roasting or smoking, and Sinking Ship on College will be providing brisket sandwiches. There will eight different bands after 6 pm with a focus on 90s cover bands. The party will also give everyone an opportunity to celebrate the partnership between Black Circle and Circadian Coffee Roasters. All for just $15 in advance or $20 the day of the party.

As for the beer production, it is conceivable that an offsite production brewery could work to get more Black Circle beers into our hands, including growlers and keg purchases. This could lead to us finding Black Circle beers in restaurants and bars in Central Indiana and beyond. Such are the problems of wild success – but they’re problems a brewery would rather have than not.

 
 

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