Tom Wiles makes a smoothie for a customer at INgredients, an Indianapolis-based store that touts a “farm-to-fork” market experience.
Tom Wiles makes a smoothie for a customer at INgredients, an Indianapolis-based store that touts a “farm-to-fork” market experience.
INDIANAPOLIS — A new restaurant offers a unique experience for customers who like fresh local fruits, vegetables and meats.

INgredients, a café on the north side of Indianapolis, offers a “farm-to-fork” experience that caters to many tastes and diets. Customers can shop at the indoor farmers market, order lunch from the café or take a class on how to cook healthy meals.

“Our mission is to show people it’s easy to cook with whole foods, and it can be very tasty,” said Tom Wiles, co-owner of the café. “So that’s why we made sure to hire a professional chef, and also we teach classes here — cooking and gardening.”

The café has a homey comfortable atmosphere. Baskets of produce, a small freezer full of meat and wooden shelves full of honey, cereals and other foods decorate the store.

The menu includes green smoothies, locally sourced chicken and beef entrees, as well as healthy desserts, to satisfy one’s sweet tooth.

Wiles, along with business partners Kevin and Jaqueline Logan, operate an organic farm in McCordsville. The land is used to grow fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables — along with cow pasture.

Tom and Kevin have been friends since fourth grade, and both share a love for healthy eating.

“We started the farm about three years ago,” Wiles said. “After a couple cycles of farmers markets, we felt like we weren’t getting the sales we needed, and we also really wanted a commercial kitchen to process all the foods we were growing.

“When we married those two, we needed a chef. And once we had a chef, we needed to serve lunch. One thing led to another.”

The restaurant caters to many diets, including gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and paleo. The spotlight always is on local flavors.

“We also want to make it accessible to those who aren’t necessarily familiar with eating whole foods,” Wiles said. “We want people to come relaxed and learn about the wonderful nature of food.”

“We like to keep it simple and savory,” said head chef Allison Godinez, while making a pineapple chicken entrée.

When the restaurant opened last October, sales were strong. Due to inclement weather over the winter, it’s been less busy.

But the INgredients team is looking forward to busy spring. Plans to add outdoor seating are in the works.

The restaurant also wants to host an interactive dinner experience, where the chef will explain each course and answer questions from customers.

Guests experiencing INgredients for the first time will taste the difference between fast food and fresh food.

“It’s comfortable knowing where your food is coming from, and it’s grown with the standards that I want,” Wiles said. “I believe the food we’re producing is more nutrient dense than some foods that have to travel hundreds of miles to get to us.”

INgredients works with between 20 and 25 Indiana producers and food manufacturers to supplement what it grows on its own farm.

The café’s best-kept secret? Take-home dinners that are perfect to bring home after a long day at work.

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