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SHAKING UP THE F&B INDUSTRY: INDIANAPOLIS' BLUEBEARD

Bluebeard | Indianapolis, Indiana

Jan Bugher is a Certified Sommelier who serves as Wine Director and Front of House Manager for Indianapolis’ much-revered Bluebeard. In its first year, the restaurant was named a semi-finalist for the James Beard Award’s Best New Restaurant in America. Chef Abbi Merriss takes an artisanal approach to food, blending the familiar with the unexpected and offering scratch-made menus with seasonal ingredients. For her part, Jan curates a list of wines that’s focused on new and surprising regions and varietals balanced with familiar names and classic styles.


With the onset of coronavirus and quarantine in March, Bluebeard temporarily closed its doors — but was determined to quickly pivot and resume operations. Through a combination of resourcefulness and imagination, the restaurant has reached its patrons in bold new ways.

  • Recognizing that food is essential and to meet an increased consumer need for grocery items, Bluebeard launched an online store that offered wine, beer, liquor, fresh produce, meat, and baked goods. They also packaged signature meals and made them available online through Amelia’s Bakery, their sister business. 

  • Historically ordering for on-premise needs, Jan shifted her focus and created a retail wine shop that fulfills online and offline sales; she actively shares these offerings on Bluebeard’s highly-trafficked social channels.  

  • Hosting a series of Fine Wine Friday events, Jan opened up the cellar and consistently sold through wine each week. Her customers came to love (and anticipate) this weekly ritual.  

  • Reopening its patio over the summer, Bluebeard invested in a Texas smoker and started offering upscale BBQ for customers to enjoy on-site or carry out.  

  • Via Bluebeard’s Instagram Live, Jan held regular virtual wine dinners and education seminars. One of her more popular food and wine packages paired three bottles of wine with three courses. This has since evolved to include in-person and Zoom events in partnership with wine producers.  

  • The restaurant currently offers cooking classes that feature wine suppliers guiding participants through the preparation of a three-course meal. Tickets, which include three bottles of wine per couple, consistently sell out.  

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