Business Spotlight: AJ’s Bar & Grill
Writer: Matt Keating
Photographer: Josh Brown
Kevin LaBarr, co-owner of AJ’s Bar & Grill, 9755 Fall Creek Road, Indianapolis, says he underestimated how much customers would respond to their new menu at the recently revamped venue.
“I’ve been overwhelmed and thrilled with how much people have loved the food and the new atmosphere,” LaBarr says. “I hear something every day about how our guests will be coming back because they are crazy about the new menu and the environment. Everything has been changed from top to bottom.”
LaBarr and his wife, Cora, took over the establishment, formerly called The Grill. They have altered everything from the décor, including several beautiful murals of Indianapolis, to new live music, new signs, kitchen equipment and furnishings. Customers have responded positively to the changes.
“Our biggest hit has been the Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun Meatloaf, which is made from scratch with fresh ingredients,” LaBarr say’s “It’s our number one seller. Once you have tasted it, you will be back for more.”
Cora says that everything is made in-house to emphasize freshness.
“We want people to remember everything they eat here, and we stress excellence,” she says.
LaBarr and Cora credit Chef Chino Solano with adapting to their new creative and diverse menu and say Solano has gone beyond their expectations and offers many of his ideas for daily specials.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with how Chino makes outstanding food each and every day,” LaBarr says. “He really came in and has made people take notice. You won’t believe how delicious our entrées are. The customers have told us how fresh everything tastes.”
LaBarr is also well known for his culinary skills.
“I can really relax when I’m in the kitchen making food,” he says. “I cook out of love. It also relieves stress. I’m well known for my Kevin’s Kicked Up Chili, which is a secret recipe.”
When he’s not busy cooking and running AJ’s Bar & Grill, LaBarr also owns and operates Certified Auto Exchange, a wholesale car dealership with retail locations in the Castleton area and Washington, Indiana. He’s been a car dealer for 37 years.
LaBarr is an outstanding multi-tasker, too. He can close a deal on a car while he’s cooking up a delicious meal and helping a co-worker.
“Our main priority is making our employees happy,” LaBarr says. “If the employees are happy, the customers are happy. There is a lot of trust, respect and cooperation. I couldn’t be happier with our staff.”
“The entire staff understands the importance of the food being as fresh as it can be, and they have responded enthusiastically,” she says.
Chef Solano says the flavorful spices in several of the menu items have made the food stand out with both new and returning customers.
“We make sure it’s all made in-house,” Solano says.
Guests have also enjoyed the unique menu item names such as “The Fall Creek Build Your Own,” where you pick your meat or fish, bread and toppings.
AJ’s Bar & Grill also offers a wide variety of pizzas, salads, sandwiches and appetizers, including the “We Call Em Tator Tots” and chicken wings.
“Everyone here has a passion for great food, and we know people will love the changes we have made,” LaBarr adds. “We want to get old customers back and make new ones. The bottom line is, Cora and I are really doing our best to make AJ’S Bar & Grill a go-to spot for the Geist, Lawrence and surrounding communities.”
AJ’s Bar & Grill is located at 9755 Fall Creek Road. You can visit them online at ajsbarandgrillindy.com or give them a call at 317 842-2087. AJ’s is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Sunday: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Wednesday & Saturday: 11 a.m. -midnight and Friday: 11 a.m. -1 a.m.