For the past four years, the Indigo Duck has anchored downtown Franklin’s fine dining scene.
People came from all over central Indiana for its she crab soup, trinity meatloaf and heirloom tomato salad. It was routinely on the list of the Indianapolis area’s best restaurants.
But on Sept. 20, the restaurant will close its doors permanently. Owner Karen Hewett announced Thursday on the restaurant’s Facebook page that when the lease ends in September, so too will the Indigo Duck.
She described it as a fitting and graceful way to transition out of the business.
Despite the restaurant’s success, the past year had brought with it significant challenges that became difficult to overcome. Hewett’s husband, chef and founder Joseph Hewett, died of congestive heart failure in May 2013.
Four months later, Joshua Hewett, his brother, died from injuries suffered after jumping out of the bed of a moving truck. He had been the restaurant’s garde manger, specializing in artful salads and chicken liver pate.
“We have taken the foundation of knowledge, passion and drive for personal best that Joseph left us with and hopefully made him proud,” Karen Hewett said in her statement.
When the Indigo Duck opened Oct. 1, 2010, the idea was to combine the classic French training Joseph Hewett received in culinary school with dishes from his native South Carolina.
Diners could find low-country shrimp and grits on the same menu as jerk-spiced salmon with Moroccan couscous salad and pine nut vinaigrette.
“When we opened our doors in 2010 we had no idea how our restaurant would be received. To our delight people soon warmed up to the talents of Chef Joseph Hewett and his culinary team,” Karen Hewett said in her statement. “Joseph’s love of food and his gregarious personality certainly drove the restaurant forward.”
The restaurant became one of the trendsetters among Indianapolis-area eateries, taking part in exclusive events such as DigIn, a yearly celebration of local foods.
For three straight years, it made the Indianapolis Monthly list of 25 best restaurants in central Indiana.
After Joseph Hewett’s death in 2013, Ryan Kernodle took over head chef duties. Karen Hewett described the past year as a challenge and felt that now was the time to close.
“We always knew there would be an end to the business someday through some means to which (Joseph Hewett) and I prepared for from the beginning,” Karen Hewett said in her statement. “As our lease is coming to an end, it feels that the time is right to put that well laid plan into place.”
The Indigo Duck will remain open during regular hours, and Karen Hewett encouraged people to come in and say goodbye. She suggested making reservations, since she anticipates a number of friends and customers to stop by.
“I know that there are great things ahead for me and my Indigo Duck family,” Karen Hewett said in the statement. “It has been an honor to be a part of not only the Franklin community but also the Indianapolis food scene.”