European-style market and café opens just east of U.S. 31
By Robert Herrington
The formerly rundown property at 211 Park St. has been repurposed as upscale rustic Rail Epicurean Market
Toby and Melanie Miles are off the beaten path – for now. The married couple of chefs have created an upscale rustic European-style market and café across from the southwest corner of the soon-to-be Grand Junction Park and Plaza.
“Epicurean stands for quality over quantity – the community coming together to enjoy food and drink with people. It’s better to enjoy one bottle of wine with company than two by yourself,” Toby said.
Like the almost 100-year-old barn that houses their business, the Miles are attempting to transform the eyes and palette of diners to be a little bit different.
“Our menu changes – if not daily – ever other day,” Toby said.
The barn at 211 Park St. originally began on a Westfield farm before it was moved to a lumberyard on Mill Street. Property owner Bob Beauchamp is not sure of the exact year but thinks it was in the 1920s when the yard caught fire.
“This place survived,” he said.
The barn was purchased and moved to its present location in 1958 by the Edwards family. Windows were added and the barn become a dairy and ice cream. However, for years the building was used as storage.
“It was absolutely full of bike parts, but all cheap stuff. I counted 300 bikes and stopped,” Beauchamp said. “We got rid of an awful lot of stuff on craigslist.”
The barn was stripped down to its frame and had major renovation work done on the exterior and interior. Luckily, the barn has two feet of crawl space under it because there was no power, sewage, water or gas.
“The only electricity was an extension cord from next door,” Beauchamp said.
The barn’s pieces were repurposed. Toby said the original wood siding is now cabinetry and trim, the tin roof is décor around the interior and old doors have been reused.
“The countertop is an old bowling alley floor,” he said.
The Miles shared their concept idea with Beauchamp who helped make it a reality.
“It was a massive collaboration effort,” Melanie said. “When we originally pitched the idea he shot us down pretty quickly.”
“When we bought this, we didn’t intend to do this. I didn’t think this would ever work out,” Beauchamp said, adding the barn’s upstairs is being converted to rental space. “It’s certainly unique to Westfield … What’s going to happen to the area is going to be amazing when Grand Junction opens.”
Cooking up success
Food has been in Toby’s life since he was a young boy and his mother was a caterer in England.
“As a child, he would sit under the prep table and play while she worked,” Melanie said, adding Toby would make cookies and pastries in the back room until he was the legal age to work in the kitchen.
The Miles met each other while working at Kelties. Toby, who started as a sauté chef before becoming sous chef, started a few months prior to Melanie, who began on the grill before moving to the front of the house. The two started dating after Kelties closed in August 2012.
Rail Epicurean Market opened April 1. Half of the business is the European-style café and the other half is a grocery, selling local products.
“All of our stuff is setup to grab and go – pastries, quiches and coffee at breakfast and sandwiches, soup and salad at lunch,” Melanie said. “It’s a very convenient alternative to basic fast-food.”
A handful of times each month, Rail offers pop-up dinners. The schedule and four-course menu is announced at the beginning of the month.
“It’s usually paired with beer or wine,” Melanie said. “We’ve had them on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday – it totally depends.”
The restaurant offers 14 reserved seats at each meal and all diners sit at one large table.
“We piece together different parties,” Melanie said. “It’s fun to see people sit down and get to know others in Westfield and Carmel. It’s very fun for us to be creative and different.”
Supporting fellow businesses
Melanie started Preservation in Westfield as a farmers’ market venture. Two years ago, she began selling the European style jams, jellies and preserves wholesale.
“It really evolved into wanting to open a café and have kitchen space to make jams. Local artisans weren’t represented in Westfield. You have to drive downtown, to the source or wait for the farmers’ market season,” she said. “We want a welcoming space here that people can come and hang out to support local businesses.”
Local products include two local roasters of coffee, Pet Lovers Organic Bakery of Westfield, Bow Belly Farm eggs of Sheridan, Sage’s Simple Syrups of Whitestown, frittle, sweet and spicy pecans, 4 Birds Bakery granola, crock pot meals, ketchup and mustard from Sheridan, Smoking Goose Meatery of Indianapolis and of course, Kelties’ Bread Pudding.
“Ninety-five percent (of our products) are made by small Indiana vendors,” Toby said. “They put so much time, effort and love in their products and it needed to be represented appropriately. People deserve to eat a little better. We wouldn’t have it if it weren’t the best.”
In addition to selling the products, the Miles use them in their homemade recipes. They said the goal is to expand their customers’ palettes.
“We try to keep it simple but do simple the best way possible,” Toby said. “We work with what we can get locally.”
There’s problems with using local small suppliers such as B. Happy Peanut Butter. “When they went on vacation we ran out of peanut butter,” Toby said.
Rail offers beer and wine at the restaurant or to go. Instead of the traditional Bud Light or a regular stout beer, Toby said Rail offers local craft brews like a nitro milk stout, which has less bubbles and is creamier.
“We try to find more unique options to introduce people to different styles of beer and wine,” he said. “We’re not going to get it for the sake of being different.”
Rail Epicurean Market
Where: 211 Park St. in Westfield
Specialty: Local and artisan pastries, sandwiches, coffee, tea, grocery items, communal dining and special events.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday.