Barn to Table
Local Couple Runs Popular Rail Epicurean Market Barn Restaurant
Photographer: Brian Brosmer
For years Toby and Melanie Miles, co-owners of Rail Epicurean Market restaurant, worked in the food industry doing a variety of things, including restaurants, catering and country club gigs. After a while, they began looking for property so they could open their own restaurant. They knew precisely where they wanted to be.
“We didn’t look outside of downtown Westfield because we love this community,” Melanie says. “Westfield people are so genuine and supportive.”
One day they were driving by an old grey barn on Park Street when a light bulb went off in Melanie’s head.
“I thought, ‘That would be a great spot for a quaint restaurant,” she says.
But at the time, the project seemed too daunting given that there was no electricity, plumbing or sewage to the barn. Plus, the outside was a mess. A few months later, however, they noticed that the outside had been completely renovated. It seemed like a sign, and the couple called the landlords, Bob and Michelle Beauchamp, to make an offer.
The Miles’ signed a lease in September 2013, got to work on inside renovations and opened the doors to Rail in April 2014 (the name comes from the fact that the Midland Railroad tracks run along the back of the property).
Though they rotate their menu seasonally, their 13 oz. cold smoked pork chop is a mainstay. Grilled and served on a potato pasta called gnocchi with a spinach cream sauce and sautéed mushrooms, it’s wildly popular. Another crowd favorite is their signature double chocolate cake.
“We take Indiana foods and put a little different spin on it,” Melanie says.
All of their made-from-scratch dishes are a collaboration among Melanie, Toby, their sous chef Mike and another one of their cooks Brian.
“We all bring ideas to the table, then ask one another, ‘What if we tweaked it this way or did that instead?’” Melanie says.
The lunch menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers. Dinner is more upscale with steaks, salmon and appetizers. They also have a full bar with cocktails, wine and beer.
Toby’s mother was a caterer with Formula One Racing, so, as a toddler, Toby would hang out beneath the prep table while she cooked. During his teen years, he worked in a number of restaurants, then later was a sous chef at several restaurants, always picking up tasty tips along the way.
Melanie attended culinary school at Ivy Tech, then took a job working for a pastry chef. It turns out, that’s her specialty, which works out great as Toby’s strengths lie in cooking.
“Toby does the savory and I do the sweet,” Melanie says. “In many ways, we balance each other out.”
“We had a pack-n-play in the back,” recalls Melanie with a chuckle. “Now we have a team of 20, so things run much more smoothly.”
Patio season is big at Rail. Not only does it expand the seating capacity from 60 to 90, but the entire street takes on a new vibe. Though they have regular customers, word-of-mouth is still attracting plenty of new clientele. According to their numbers, last month more than 50 percent of their customers were newbies.
“Last year, we started seeing more people coming out this way,” says Melanie, noting that next spring they plan to open an ice cream and dessert shop adjacent to Rail. The street is home to several other restaurants, clothing boutiques, knickknack stores, a hair salon and a potter’s shop.
“When we moved in four years ago, it was a sleepy little neighborhood, but this area is really exploding,” Melanie adds. “On the end of our street, they’re building Grand Junction Plaza, a $25-million-dollar park that will be the whole center of downtown Westfield.”
Once that’s erected, Rail Epicurean will be across the street from an amphitheater for concerts, bike trails and an ice skating rink.
In their free time, the family likes to travel and taste-test other eateries.
“Being chefs, we don’t tend to spend a lot of money on other things,” Melanie says. “Traveling and eating is what keeps us inspired.”
Open Tuesday through Saturday, Rail Epicurean Market is located at 211 Park Street in Westfield. For more information, call 317-804-8555 or visit railepicureanmarket.com.