Rail Epicurean Market exceeds owners’ expectations, will expand seating
By Mark Ambrogi
Co-owners Melanie and Toby Miles were realistic when they opened Rail Epicurean Market. Restaurant veterans, the couple know how difficult the business can be.
The Westfield restaurant, which opened April 1 of last year, seats 25 inside on the first floor and had room for about 15 more on the patio.
“We set our expectations really low,” Toby said. “I think that was good. It kept us in check a little bit. We thought we were never going to use the space above us. We told the landlord if someone else wants to rent it out, just let them have it. As we started to fill up and we had to turn people away, or people would start to leave because there weren’t enough seats we thought we should start to think about using the upstairs a little more.”
Melanie said the restaurant is off a main path (211 Park St.) so they weren’t sure how quickly the business would take off.
“We’re kind of hidden right now,” Melanie said. “We worked a lot on our social media to get the word out.”
The second floor will allow seating for 30 more customers, 22 at tables and eight at the bar.
“If things keeps going as they are, when winter comes we’re definitely going to need that space as soon as possible,” Toby said.
Toby said he hopes the second floor will be competed by September.
At first, Melanie said they believed it would be more of take-out business, but found more people want to stay and eat, so they expanded the seating accordingly.
The couple, who live within walking distance of their restaurant, met when they were both working at now-closed Keltie’s in Westfield. Toby was a sous chef and Melanie was a line cook. Melanie also was a bartender and did some managing at Keltie’s.
“We both moved to catering about the same time,” said Melanie, who has been married to Toby for four years. “Then Toby stayed in catering, and I went back to the restaurant business at a country club.”
Melanie said they had talked about starting a restaurant for a while but were looking for the right spot.
“We were looking for a space we like in the downtown (Westfield) area, and then we saw this barn and thought it was neat,” Melanie said.
The restaurant has five employees. Both Toby and Melanie help with the cooking.
“It’s a nice 50-50, where I lack Melanie picks me up,” Toby said. “My strengths are more on the savory side and hers are more on the sweet side, desserts, baking and things that need to be precise. Anything I can do, she can definitely do. She makes the baking and the desserts look easy.”
Toby said the couple might not always agree, but they come to agreements.
“Sometimes she’s says ‘That’s a dumb idea. Why would we ever do that? Let’s do this instead,’” Toby said. “I might say ‘I didn’t think of that.’ It works both ways.”
The restaurant features some unique dishes but the couple understands its customers’ tastes.
“We both realized we’re in part of the Midwest,” Toby said. “This is farm country. There are a lot of meat and potatoes people out there. Going too far out of our comfort zone, it wouldn’t be a great service to the customers coming in here. Just trying something because it’s new is not really our MO. To serve something great that might have little tweaks on it that it may not have had before, perhaps unique preparation. We’re in a barn so we can’t be pretentious or stuffy.”
The old railroad line is in the back of the restaurant, and Midland Trace Trail is expected to expand there. The Miles’ said they would like to have a deck for seating behind the restaurant once that is completed.
About Melanie and Toby Miles
Personal: Couple has three children, Luke Tragesser, 14, Emma Tragesser, 12 and Redding Miles, 1. Toby, 28, graduated from Zionsville Community High School and Ball State University with a degree in journalism and graphic design. Melanie, 39, is from Kokomo.
Other favorite restaurants: Melanie and Toby agreed their other two Westfield favorites are the Super Bowl Pho, a Vietnamese restaurant, and The Local Eatery & Pub.
Melanie’s favorite Rail Epicurean meal: “Pork Chops with red onion and wild mushroom cream (and sautéed gnocchi). I love our margaritas.”
Toby’s favorite Rail Epicurean dessert: “Her zucchini bars. It’s like carrot cake with cream icing. Those are super addicting. There is something about her chocolate cake. I just love it.”
Favorite spot with the kids: “We like to ride our bikes around Asa Bales Park. It’s nice because you can walk around downtown, too,” Melanie said.
Favorite vacation spot: “Every spring break we try to go some place different so the kids can experience new things. Last spring we went to Boston and New York.”
Rail Epicurean Market
Address: 211 Park St., Westfield
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Closed Sunday and Monday.