Today we are experiencing an increased interest in the quality and origins of the food we eat. After many years of trusting our industrialized food production, Americans are finding comfort in the rebirth of small farming and even urban food production. What better way to celebrate our local history, urban food production, urban renewal and the Love, Beauty and Food that we all share when we value these things together as a community than a restaurant that features it all! Now, find a historic house that was built by a local pioneer and homesteader, one that journaled about the food he was growing. Now, restore the house as close to Mr. Neely’s diaries and research dictates. Re-plant all of the lost gardens and orchard. Then find a great Chef. Refine the plan, refine a bit more and then refine again. Don’t forget music, suppliers, seating capacity vs. revenue, landscaping, uniforms, sprinkling systems, liquor licenses, and permits, permits and more permits.
Beginning the build couldn’t begin until the removal of decay was complete. The Neely house had one very serious problem; it was collapsing. We had to build temporary support for the roof inside the house and then removed a two-story brick wall that was holding up the rood. We poured new foundations in the center of the house and began re-supporting the house and roof. An extensive list of talented craftsmen were needed and can be viewed on our “who done it” tab. Befitting our goal we chose to do this entire project using only the crafts people we could find locally. We are proud of their results.
Words now fall short of describing where we see ourselves in this journey. We are quite satisfied and proud of our progress and yet humble and eager to provide the dining experience we have wanted to present when we dreamed of our restaurant. We are open now and the guests are returning again and again. Where we go from here will be determined by our dedication and hard work as we try to present the best restaurant we can. Watch this page!
The concept of the Neely house restaurant was born in the appreciation of history. The story of Thomas S Neely, his home, his family and his gardens are found in the archives at Ball State University. His own story by his hand, is told in a series of diaries written between 1860 and 1901. The concept is to bring back this story of homesteading and inner-city food production in the ultimate “farm to table” experience while celebrating a unique piece of Muncie architecture.
Although the diaries have been held safe in the BSU archives, what was left of the Thomas Neely Home was a collapsing hulk of a 6-unit apartment house, abandoned and in ruin. The passion for the Neely story drove this concept and the resulting mission: To create the finest restaurant in the area while presenting and preserving Muncie history, operating in a manner that highlights urban food production, better land use, sustainable operating practices in an atmosphere that is an ongoing celebration of love, beauty and food.