For a variety of businesses, staying afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic has been an ongoing struggle. Locations in Muncie, like 625 TapHouse, found it difficult to continue serving the community. Operating inside of the downtown hotel Courtyard by Marriott Muncie without a drive-thru window adversely impacted the establishment, Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour said.
When 625 TapHouse closed in fall 2021, Ridenour said the city was on the lookout for another restaurant to take over the space.
“We looked at some local companies, we talked to pizza locations, we talked to other full-service restaurants,” Ridenour said.
In Anderson, Indiana, Ben Morgan, owner of 1925 PubHouse, received a handful of questions from his regular customers regarding whether a second location was coming soon after the opening of his Anderson location in 2020.
“We had some of our regular customers come into our location in Anderson from Muncie, and they asked us if we’ve considered downtown Muncie because of all of the work they’ve done to revitalize the downtown,” Ben said.
When 1925 PubHouse expressed interest in opening a second location in the space inside the hotel, it was a match for every party involved: the Courtyard by Marriott Muncie housing the restaurant, the nonprofit organization Arc of Indiana owning the hotel and the City of Muncie welcoming a new business.
“According to the Marriott, The Arc of Indiana and to the city, this was by far the best option, and we are really excited about having this particular company here,” Ridenour said.
Ben has re-established a connection to the city since he was born in Muncie.
“I would hang out downtown all the time,” Ben said, “going to the Rivoli Theatre, other stores, running around downtown,but I really hadn’t been to downtown Muncie for probably 15 years.”
Tyler Morgan, general manager of the Muncie location, said this is a big step for 1925 PubHouse within the Muncie community, not just in food service. While being located on a “fantastic property,” Tyler said, 1925 PubHouse is partnered with an educational program through The Arc of Indiana known as the Erskine Green Training Institute (EGTI).
“This hotel was built … [to have] a hotel and restaurant to supply a post-secondary education for folks with intellectual disabilities,” Tyler said.
Through the EGTI program, students are enrolled in a 10-12 week program to explore a number of roles within the hotel and 1925 PubHouse. These include housekeeping, hosting, serving and dishwashing.
Tyler said program staff liked what 1925 PubHouse had to offer, like learning how to cook and serve in regard to its menu and staff. Shedding light on this program is one of his long-term goals for the restaurant, especially since EGTI has been in place since 2016.
“One of my goals as general manager of this restaurant is to make that more known and let people know this is an amazing restaurant, but it is also an excellent training facility,” he said. “People need to know that this is going to be a big part of us.”
Ridenour praised the location for being in the heart of the downtown area and specifically for being connected to the hotel.
“We’re excited to see what 1925 PubHouse brings,” Ridenour said. “I think it will be a great addition to our downtown and a super addition for the Marriott and its guests.”
Ben wants prospective customers to know about the restaurant’s 30-seat bar, 16 outdoor tables and new renovations inside the restaurant while promising “an amazing culinary experience, as well as service.” As the restaurant offers a unique dining experience for Muncie residents with a “downtown vibe,” he also wants to offer a menu on the same playing field.
“Chef Kevin’s menu is what I like to call kind of an upscale-casual,” Ben said. “Hand-cut steaks, prime steaks, lobster, fresh seafood — all on his menu that people are looking for.”
Ridenour said he is hopeful for 1925 PubHouse to provide the city with a new, wide food selection and thinks the menu will be very popular among Muncie locals. He added the city is looking into finding more parking options for the restaurant’s customers in addition to the restaurant lot within its first few months of operation
The restaurant had its soft opening the weekend of April 2 and official opening April 5. Tyler said he has been ecstatic to open the doors to guests who have been eager to experience dining at 1925 PubHouse’s Muncie location.
“We want people to see the place who have been asking us for the past six weeks, ‘When’s Muncie going to open?’” Tyler said. “They’re finally going to be able to get in the place and taste the food.”
Ridenour said he is glad to be adding 1925 PubHouse to the list of restaurants operating within Muncie.
“We think we’ve got some great restaurants downtown as well as some long-term staples that give a wide variety and bring people to our city,” Ridenour said. “We think 1925 PubHouse will add to that as well.”