What’s Cookin’ at Big Woods
Big Woods Restaurant Opens in Hamilton County
Photographer / Ellie Sophia Photography
Big Woods Restaurant Group, a company that first opened in 2009 as Big Woods Brewing Company, has grown and expanded through the past decade.
“Ten years ago, we opened a brewpub in a little timber frame building in downtown Nashville, Indiana,” says Ed Ryan, chief executive officer of BWQOHT, Inc. “We called it Big Woods in homage to the large timbers used to construct the building, and the wonderful forests we are surrounded by in Brown County.”
In 2012, demand for the company’s beer outside of its restaurants led to the creation of Quaff On! Brewing Company, which is now one of the largest beer manufacturers in Indiana. Three years later, a sister company was formed.
“My chemistry background, our inspired partners, and some employees who were interested in starting a new business led to the opening of Hard Truth Distilling Company and, eventually, our 300-acre distillery/restaurant/experience center at Hard Truth Hills,” Ryan says.
The company’s beer line is now known as Quaff On! Brewing Co., its restaurants are called Big Woods Restaurants, and its most recent sister company is Hard Truth Distilling Company. Today the company is known as BWQOHT, Inc. (Big Woods Restaurant Group, Quaff On! Brewing Company, and Hard Truth Distilling Company).
In February Big Woods leaders opened a seventh location in Noblesville on Hazel Dell Crossing. The new 7,700-square-foot location seats 250 guests, including 40 patio spots and two private rooms for party rentals.
“Over the years we have made lots of friends who live in the Hamilton County area as they have visited our other locations, and we are excited to get to see them more often now,” Ryan says. “We love the fact that Big Woods Hazel Dell is surrounded by all of these great neighborhoods, and that we can be part of that cool sense of place.”
Chris Curtin, vice president of operations for Big Woods Restaurant Group, is thrilled to have a new Noblesville presence since the community has a nice assortment of restaurant offerings.
“[Noblesville] is a growing community consisting of mostly family households, and that is what we cater to,” says Curtin, noting that Big Woods is an experience that the whole family can enjoy. “I think that’s something Noblesville was missing.”
Patrick Matthews, corporate chef for Big Woods Restaurant Group, put a lot of thought into the kids’ menu.
“We want Big Woods to be a place where children and their parents want to go – not one or the other,” Curtin says. “We structured the menus, the decor and the location with that in mind.”
Matthews says his main focus when creating the menu was to bring unique ingredients and bold flavors to the fore, and present them in a way that guests would truly appreciate.
“From a culinary perspective, we chose to add items that would give us a broader appeal to all guests who come to Big Woods,” Matthews says. “This can be seen in the new menu items such as Thai Vegan Red Curry, Chicken Street Tacos or our Candied Bacon Bomb Burger.”
Two of the restaurant’s long-standing, popular items are the pulled pork barbecue nachos and the smoked wings. In an effort to add a more diverse flavor scale to the menu, Matthews stuck to a Three-F rule – fresh, flavorful and fun.
“I hope with this new menu that new and long-standing guests will not only appreciate the additions but also have fun while trying them,” he says.
Blake Wolpert, a longtime fan of Big Woods, was impressed when he first visited the Nashville restaurant.
“New ventures are sometimes less than superlative, but they came right out of the gate with some of the best craft beer before getting into the distilled spirits,” Wolpert says. “They went from zero to perfect with the spirits. All of their products are so good. Plus, the food and ambiance are great.”
Matt Coffman has loved the restaurant for years, and says he counted the days until Big Woods Hazel Dell opened.
“I’m so excited because our family used to drive to Speedway, and now there’s one in my backyard,” says Coffman, who enjoys the woodsy, rustic atmosphere of Big Woods, as well as the tasty flavor of nachos covered in smoked pork. “With so many chain restaurants around, we are thrilled to have this option so close.”
So far, Hamilton County residents have welcomed the new Big Woods establishment.
“This is a great community, and the response has been outstanding,” Curtin says. “The feedback from guests has been overwhelmingly positive about the transformation of the space, the service and the menus.”
Big Woods Hazel Dell is located at 14741 Hazel Dell Crossing in Noblesville. For more information, call 317-564-4231 or visit bigwoodsrestaurants.com.