Henri & Shelley Najem Share Their Flamme
Writer / Kara Reibel . Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Local restauranteurs Henri and Shelley Najem bring their flare to Flamme, a new “fresh casual” gourmet burger concept located at The Depot in downtown Fishers.
Celebrating 25 years of restaurant ownership, Henri and Shelley Najem opened their latest endeavor to bring their exceptionally high quality tastes and ingredients to casual dining. The Najems are redefining the burger joint.
Flamme is an open concept restaurant serving up uniquely blended burgers and other fresh accoutrements with casual seating. A thoughtful selection of beer and wine is available, and the bar offers full menu service.
Henri’s restaurant experience began when he was 12 years old working in his Uncle Joe’s restaurant on the west side of Indianapolis. “Working in restaurants has been my life,” says Henri. “When my dad died, my mom supported my brothers, sisters and me by owning a restaurant until she retired.”
Shelley was 19 and working for the clothing chain Merry Go Round as a district manager when she met Henri. A hard worker and perfectionist like Henri, Shelley soon joined him in the restaurant business.
Henri’s mom, Joanne, who is of Italian heritage, wanted an Italian restaurant to continue the tradition of her late brother, Joe. Joanne partnered with Henri and Shelley with Pisano’s, which was located off 71st Street and Binford. Wishing to open a location closer to their Geist home, they sold Pisano’s and opened Bella Vita.
The Najems are known for their decor and attention to detail, and Flamme is no exception. “The concept of ‘fire’ is a fun one to play with for interior design,” shares Shelley. “The interior is simple and thoughtfully designed, intended to keep guests comfortable while they enjoy our delicious food.”
“Henri has had this concept idea for a while,” shares Shelley. “He envisioned a nicer atmosphere for casual dining that we call ‘fresh casual.’”
Every menu item is made fresh to order, even the grilled chicken. The grill is the focal point of the kitchen. Henri designed it with the help of Shelley’s uncle, who is an engineer. Once the design was to Henri’s specifications, he applied for a patent.
“If I am going to do something, I want it to be the best,” says Henri. “The wood burning grill was key. I didn’t want a flattop cooking surface, but I didn’t want dried out burgers either. The open flame was the only way to accomplish the consistency, and with the angled channeling removing the grease, we don’t have the grease dripping into the wood.”
The grill is wood-burning only. The cooking grid has v-channels, and the surface angle is at a slight decline, so that grease drains off and not into the flames below. The wood-fired grill takes about 20 minutes to heat up to a very high heat. Flamme burns only oak along with apple chips to add flavor. The body of the grill is like a fireplace made with a steel structure.
Once Henri was satisfied with the cooking process, the consistency of the burgers needed to be addressed. The Flamme burgers are a special blend of brisket, short rib and sirloin.
The next detailed step was the bun. Henri and Shelley wanted to ensure that the bun wasn’t too hard and that there was not an excess of bread served with their burgers.
Working meticulously with Harlan Bakeries, the Najems created a custom brioche exclusively for Flamme.
The two years of research to perfect what is brought to the tables at Flamme has been well worth the effort. Patrons are raving about the food, which is presented atop wood cutting boards.
In addition to their demand for high quality food and service, their generous philanthropic endeavors are already underway at Flamme. In conjunction with the ribbon cutting ceremony on October 1, “Flamme Out Hunger” brought in generous donations to support Third Phase in Hamilton County.
“We’ve always felt strongly about helping kids,” shares Henri. Shelley adds, “There are over 20,000 hungry kids in Hamilton County, and we are doing what we can to help.”
Growing up in a large family environment, Henri and Shelley have supported children through many philanthropies. One that is close to their heart is Miracle Place. They were first associated with Miracle Place through St. Simon. Located at 10th and Temple Avenue, Miracle Place is run by nuns and oversees neighborhood children with homework, helps with daycare and provides any and all assistance for the neighborhood.
The Najems held a fundraiser and raised $30,000 to add on a room to accommodate additional services for Miracle Place. While they will continue to support Miracle Place, they also feel Third Phase is equally important.
For the month of November, Flamme is offering 10 percent off for winter clothing item donations to Third Phase.
The design of The Depot is to encourage foot traffic. Free parking is available in the parking garage and also along Municipal Drive. Fishers is the first of many locations for Flamme. Plans are now underway to open a second location at Grand Park in the Greenwalt development near the Cambria Suites hotel. Additional locations are in negotiations.
The Najems do not disappoint. Fishers, meet your new Flamme.
Visit flammeburger.com for more information.