If you’re part of the Indy metal scene then you should know about Kuma’s Corner. Kuma’s is a metal themed restaurant that has been around since 2005. It first began as a contemporary American bistro opened by old-school metalhead Mike Cain. On the brink of closing his bistro, Mike decided to take a leap of faith and try something a little different. He rearranged his menu, made the restaurant a burger joint, and began naming the burgers after metal bands. The idea took off and lead to the opening of three more Kuma’s, one being part of an Indy cultural district Fountain Square.
Indy Metal Vault was given the chance to sit down and chat with Luke Tobias, owner of Kuma’s Indy location, to learn more about the history, the burgers and the music.
Indy Metal Vault: What is your role at the restaurant?
Luke Tobias: I have been with Kuma’s for close to ten years. I started as a salad cook and just worked my way up. I went into Kuma’s one night and waited for three hours at the original location. I went in just to eat and have some drinks with my friends and as I was standing, the guy that was bartending, this dude with a big beard and a hole in his lip, just kept passing me beers. The service staff kind of felt bad about the wait so he just kept passing me beers. I didn’t move because it was so crowded in there and I said ‘man I gotta work here. This is awesome.’ So I asked if they were hiring, he said they were, and I came back the following Tuesday working in the kitchen. Since then I helped open Kuma’s 2. I had the opportunity for ownership in Indianapolis. So I took it and here I am.
IMV: Why was Fountain Square chosen as the second Kuma’s location?
LT: Fountain Square kind of mimics the neighborhood that our original location in Chicago is in. Nothing against the other neighborhoods like Mass Ave. or Broadripple. But Fountain Square represented us the most. A similar opportunity being a place where we can actually contribute to the neighborhood and actually grow with it.
IMV: How does the burger of the month work? Do you collaborate with local bands?
LT: It just depends on what the month is and also we give our chefs a lot of creativity. We’re not this big corporation so if we’ve got a guy who really likes a particular band or wants to create a burger for a band on tour then we’ll let him do it. If there’s a band that’s on tour already and there is an opportunity to work with them we will observe the situation and see if its cool. If it is we’ll go for it. If its not then we’ll do it ourselves. In my experience it’s difficult. We did one here for Skeletonwitch. They had a record coming out and they were playing a show here. We called those guys up and asked if there was anything they would like included in this. We’re not specifically musicians. For example, just because the guys listen to metal doesn’t mean they play it. Vice versa. A lot of guys that play music are not cooks or chefs. So if we get suggestions that are just completely off the wall we shut it down. You guys play the music, that’s what you’re good at. And we’ll make the burger, that’s what we do. So it goes both ways
IMV: Kuma’s put on a few shows this past year and have taken part in a few festivals. Is this something Kuma’s is going to continue?
LT: We would love to. We’ve done shows intermediately in the past. We will continue to do it if there’s a demand for it. I think as long as you can keep people respectful of the space and surroundings. We love being in Fountain Square and build mutually beneficial relationships with a lot of neighbors. It can easily go the other way as far as having a show in a non-traditional space. I don’t know, we will see what the future holds. We will be involved with FSMF in the springtime. We’re open to doing events, its just case by case.
Be sure to check out Kuma’s burger of the month, the King Parrot.
Kuma’s Corner is open seven days a week:
Sunday-Thursday 11am – 11:00pm
Friday and Saturday 11am – 1:00am