Joe Lazzara Debuts New Fine Dining Restaurant With Chef Jason Cornelius at the Helm
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Joe’s Butcher Shop and Joe’s Next Door are well-known throughout Carmel and all of Hamilton County for their amazing meats and made-to-order sandwiches. Today, Owner Joe Lazzara and Head Chef Jason Cornelius, are debuting a new restaurant concept to be added to the butcher shop — Apron.
“Once we had the space, we came together on this idea of running a pop-up — something intimate and small,” Cornelius says. “Most restaurants you go to these days are overcrowded and you can lose that relationship of the dining experience. We want to make it a quaint, intimate and elegant experience.”
The new restaurant is added space attached to the butcher shop and includes seating for up to 32 people. During the day, the space will be used as extra seating for the lunch crowd that flocks to Joe’s Next Door. During the evenings, the space will be utilized as a unique, fine-dining experience that hasn’t been available to Carmel patrons in the past.
The concept is something Lazzara has thought about for a long time.
“We started thinking of this idea the day we opened Joe’s Next Door actually,” Lazzara says. “This has been the plan for several years.”
Chef Cornelius will manage the chefs, menu and front of house operations. The restaurant’s goal is to rotate different chefs from all parts of metro Indy to give guests ever-changing tastes of their culinary strengths. The menu will be more tailored to a fine dining experience and include farm-to-table dishes.
The experience for guests will change month to month. There will be options for regular dining, but most weeks it will be special dinner events that guests will register to attend with friends and family. One month could be a wine dinner event, the next could be a live cooking demonstration and dinner. The dinner events concept is what makes Apron so unique.
“The idea is to have chefs come in with their own menus, prep onsite, and with our extensive Joe’s customer list we will fill the tables,” Cornelius says. “It will be a friendly atmosphere. It will be more personal here. I think chefs will appreciate getting out of their day to day environment and flexing their culinary muscles. We will do pop-up dinners, private events, wine pairings — that isn’t really being done anywhere else. We will also have opportunities to teach our guests how to cook as well.”
“The limited availability makes this unique,” Lazzara adds. “This is not initially going to be a seven-night a week dining experience. It is a unique experience that night for 32 people and will feature our in-house culinary expertise and our ability to showcase Chef Jason’s talents. We want to continue to bring Carmel even better food and dining options. On off nights, I’d expect the community to want to use the space for catered events like small rehearsal dinners, wedding and baby showers and more. Our menu options will be very flexible as well.”
Over the years, Lazzara has seen immense support from the Carmel and surrounding communities. That support, he says, is crucial to any success he’s had along the way.
“It really has meant everything,” Lazzara says. “When we first opened Joe’s we knew we’d need community support to survive. The volume of that support has surprised every one of us. We’ve become integrated with the community. We’ve attended customer’s funerals, have had customers come in on their wedding days, you name it. We have a current employee who was only two years old when their family first started shopping at Joe’s.”
Already, guests are asking about his newest concept. Apron is set to officially open in November and Lazzara and Chef Cornelius are excited to deliver the experience to the community.
“Our regulars here at Joe’s are excited and have been asking us how much longer till Apron is open,” Cornelius says. “I am so excited to come out of my shoes and show guests what we can do with plates.”
“This is something we have been planning for so long,” Lazzara adds. “I’m excited for our employees too and to grow our culture. I think this is going to bring a unique perspective every time we have events.”
Apron is located at 111 W Main St. Suite 120 in Carmel. For more information on the restaurant and upcoming events, visit joesbutchershop.com and sign up for their weekly newsletter to stay in the know for upcoming pop-up dinners.