Eggshell Bistro Chef and Owner Larry Hanes is a Man of Many Talents
Photographer / Michael Durr
Larry Hanes, owner and chef at Eggshell Bistro, is a jack of all trades – a man who has flourished in numerous careers but doesn’t view them as separate because he blends each experience to make him the creator-designer-artist extraordinaire that he is today.
“It all feels like the same design path – just a different medium,” Hanes says.
Having worked as a chemical engineer, designer, art director, painter, writer, illustrator, and photographer, Hanes switched gears in 2011 and opened Eggshell Bistro. The restaurant has been listed in Indianapolis Monthly’s top ten best new restaurants, and named best brunch in Indiana by the website Livingly.com. It might not come as a surprise that Hanes also holds a world record in juggling.
“You’ve got to juggle a lot of things in the restaurant world, and I’m really good at that,” says Hanes, who describes his personal life as pleasant and peaceful, and full of reading, gardening and traveling.
Eggshell Bistro is open Wednesdays through Sundays, and Hanes closes the restaurant on Mondays and Tuesdays to give his staff a full two days off. It’s all part of adhering to his cherished motto: “We shouldn’t live to work. We should work to live.”
Opening Eggshell Bistro was a dream that came to fruition for Hanes after he spent time munching on breakfast with fellow art directors – many of whom shared a similar vision of owning their own food establishment. Hanes wanted to open a place that specializes in brunch because he embraces the optimism that mornings bring.
“In the morning everything is possible because no barriers have gotten in our way at that point,” Hanes says. “Morning symbolizes rebirth of a new day. It’s just a beautiful time period.”
Hanes thinks of Eggshell Bistro as an evolution, meaning that he strives to continually improve the eatery.
“It’s like a painting that you keep coming back to and doing brush strokes,” says Hanes, noting that he recently hung custom-made curtains and set out new bistro tables from France. “I like to keep adding and subtracting things.”
Eggshell Bistro’s most popular dish is shakshuka, which includes a Moroccan-spiced tomato base, habanera, onion, garlic, kale, chèvre, zhoug, and baked hen’s egg, served with a grilled baguette on the side.
“Eggshell Bistro is a true and authentic food experience, which upon entrance immediately transports me to a European-inspired eatery,” says Tina Makris, a loyal customer.
In addition to the eclectic food menu, Eggshell Bistro also boasts an impressive drink menu of coffees and teas. The establishment sells beverages from Four Barrel Coffee, which is considered a top-ten national roaster, as well as SerendipiTea, one of the most successful importers of high-quality teas in the world. The staff at Eggshell pairs coffees and teas with the menu’s food items.
Hanes plans to eventually publish a brunch cookbook. He is a big believer in not trying to create a restaurant that is the right fit for everybody.
“When you do that, it’s like adding too much water to Kool-Aid,” he says. “It dilutes the experience.”
Though Eggshell has regulars, Hanes is proud that the restaurant attracts a great deal of diversity.
“We get travelers from China, Japan, Korea, Russia,” he says. “It’s common to hear three to five different languages being spoken at Eggshell on any given day. The people are very diverse. So is the food.”
Hanes is grateful to his loyal customers, and the great conversation that occurs as a result of their visits.
“I love getting to know everybody and talking food with them,” says Hanes, always the eager learner. “I like hearing about people’s travels. They teach me a lot.”
When Hanes travels, he gets excited when stumbling upon new food-related ideas.
“I say, ‘I can’t believe I didn’t know about this, but I’m so happy I found out about it,’” Hanes says. “Then I come home and connect it to something I grew up with, and a new idea is born.”
But according to regular customer Laura Conder, one needn’t venture out of Carmel to experience the taste of world travel.
“Visiting Larry at Eggshell is like taking an exotic vacation without leaving Carmel,” Conder says. “He has blended art, design, music, and of course food, to create an experience – much more than just a meal.”