The best-laid plans often go awry, and that saying rang true in 2020. For restaurateurs Rachel and Samir Mohammad, their plans to open a neighborhood bistro in Noblesville changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in spring 2020. But the couple pivoted their business to serve the community and so far, it’s been a success.
Samir is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and has been working in kitchens since the age of 13. Rachel is newer to the hospitality industry, but says, “when you fall in love with a chef, I learned that the only way to spend time together is to jump feet-first into those crazy hours that come with a restaurant lifestyle.”
The couple sold their shares of Bettola Bistro, the restaurant they opened and built up to a five-star Yelp and Google rating in Colorado, then moved to Rachel’s home state of Indiana to open 9th Street Bistro in downtown Noblesville.
In January 2020, Rachel and Samir took over their new restaurant space just south of the Historic Noblesville Square and proceeded with a three-month remodel. They were just a few weeks away from opening their doors when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020.
Pivoting the Business Plan
The restaurateurs took time to consider what would be the safest and smartest move for the business and thought about what the community needed.
Ultimately, they pivoted from the original concept of a small, neighborhood bistro to offer ready-to-heat meals that are thoughtfully prepared and intended to be enjoyed at home.
Rachel and Samir call it “Sunday Supper Club,” and the menu changes weekly. Everything is made from scratch, including bread, cheeses, sauces and desserts. 9th Street Bistro uses local ingredients whenever practical and regularly purchase from local vendors like Redwine Family Farms of Westfield.
To spread the word about their offerings, they’ve built up their social media channels and weekly email list. In addition to Sunday Supper Club, 9th Street Bistro also offers holiday menus and other pop-ups.
As Rachel describes, “Samir and I are doing all of this by ourselves. While we are eager to employ members of the community, we are only able to survive the pandemic by minimizing costs (no payroll - and lots of hard work).”
In the future, the couple hopes to hire and open the dining room to the public. They will likely continue the Sunday Supper Club through and beyond the pandemic to serve the immunocompromised and busy families of the local community.
“We’re excited to be part of Hamilton County and though we have faced challenges, we’re choosing to see the positive parts of the pandemic. It has afforded us a chance to get our name out into the community, test a multitude of dishes and do on-the-ground market research before opening our small dining room.”