About Cunningham Restaurant Group
Mike Cunningham has defied the odds of being a successful independent restaurateur with hard work, experience and reliable business partners. He began his career at age 14 in Cincinnati’s famed Skyline Chili. From there, it was on to other establishments in his hometown until he settled at the Ground Round and was transferred to Indianapolis at age 21.
Just one year later, Cunningham opened the first of many successful restaurants for Sahm’s in Indianapolis. He spent three years with Sahm’s, learning the details of running an independent restaurant, knowing that his ultimate goal was having a restaurant of his own.
That day came in 1987 when Cunningham opened the Big Chill in Fishers, Indiana. This small deli and frozen yogurt shop on the city’s far north side was a runaway success and quickly outgrew its original space. By 1995, five of Cunningham’s Big Chill or Chill n’ Grill restaurants were located throughout Central Indiana and Cincinnati.
Still not satisfied and looking for the challenge of a full-service restaurant with a more extensive menu, Cunningham opened Boulder Creek Dining Company in Brownsburg, Indiana in 1997. This upscale casual restaurant has made a name for itself with housemade barbecue ribs, wood-fired pizzas, steaks and pastas. Guests relax in the ambiance of a mountain lodge while enjoying great food at an even better value. Today, Boulder Creek Dining Company is the foundation of Cunningham’s restaurant family and has expanded to include an additional bar/dining area as well as private dining space.
Following the success of Boulder Creek Dining Company, Cunningham chose Avon, IN in 1999 to open Charbonos. Named for an uncommon yet delicious variety of grape found in California, Charbonos welcomes guests into the Tuscan countryside and serves up ample portions of salads, pastas featuring housemade sauces, tender steaks and wood-fired pizzas. Both Charbonos and Boulder Creek Dining Company consistently receive awards at various festivals in Central Indiana.
Not one to become complacent, Cunningham sought another challenge and found that on the Southside of Indianapolis in 2003. His first stand-alone restaurant (both Boulder Creek and Charbonos reside in strip malls) came to life as Stone Creek Dining Company. This new addition to the family blended the casual elegance of Charbonos with the hearty warmth of Boulder Creek in a more contemporary setting. The menu was a chance to experiment and features a wide variety of sandwiches, salads, seafood, pastas, steaks, chops and chicken. Stone Creek Greenwood offers an entire level of private dining space complete with a private bar and an extensive, customizable catering menu.
Incredible growth and a unique property drew Cunningham back to the Westside of Indianapolis in 2005. Metropolis, the area’s first upscale outdoor mall was developed, and Cunningham’s restaurants were a perfect fit. Thus, Stone Creek Plainfield was born. While the menu remained fairly consistent with Stone Creek Greenwood, the interior has a personality all its own.
Cunningham is involved in every facet of restaurant development from choosing the look of the front of the house to training the kitchen staff and frequently checking quality by working the line himself.
The family of restaurants continued to expand with the opening of Stone Creek Zionsville in February 2007. Like its sister restaurants, Stone Creek Zionsville welcomes visitors into a warm, rich interior that is upscale casual – comfortable yet elegant without pretense.
In August 2007, Cunningham Restaurant Group returned to Mike Cunningham’s hometown of Cincinnati with the opening of Stone Creek Montgomery.
Another opportunity brought Cunningham to the far North side of Indianapolis in August of 2008, with the opening of Stone Creek Noblesville located in the Hamilton Town Center Mall.
In May 2010, Cunningham Restaurant Group returned back to Mike Cunningham’s hometown with the opening of another Ohio location, Stone Creek West Chester.
Cunningham Restaurant Group expanded into downtown Indianapolis' Mass Ave cultural district with the opening of Mesh on Mass in August 2010 and the opening of BRU Burger Bar in December 2011.
In November 2013, CRG expanded into Kentucky, with a second BRU Burger Bar location in the Beaumont neighborhood of Lexington, Kentucky. BRU Lexington brings the full-service restaurant total for Cunningham Restaurant Group to 13 locations with Café 251 in downtown Indianapolis remaining a successful tribute to Mike’s roots as a popular lunch-time spot for workers near the Capital Center.