A hive is the safe place for a colony of bees. It's where they go to be away from the outside world and where they eat their food. The owner of Bloomington's new Hive restaurant said he hopes it will serve the same purpose for its customers.
"A hive is this busy place of a lot of coming and going," owner Jeff Mease said.
Hive, which opened June 5, is located at 2608 East 10th St. The restaurant serves coffee and pastries every day starting at 6 a.m., and customers can order hot breakfast items from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., they serve lunch and dinner. Their menus can be found online.
Mease and general manager Abbi Springer described Hive as "fast-casual." They hope to get customers their food in eight minutes or less. However, for those who need their food even quicker, Hive offers online carry-out for everything on their menu.
Mease is founder and CEO of One World Enterprises, which is the umbrella company behind Pizza X, Lennie’s, Bloomington Brewing Company, One World Kitchen Share and One World Catering and Events.
The company has found their niche in creating these businesses, Mease said.
"So we’re now, in 35 years, the biggest restaurant company in Bloomington but doing it in a way I think feels good.”
Hive was formed when Mease was approached by the IU Foundation in March 2017, which wanted to put a new restaurant in the then-empty building. With a hospital nearby and plenty of IU student and staff, the Foundation thought there were not enough places to eat in the area," Mease said.
Mease said he and people from the IU Foundation discussed concepts and decided upon a place that served healthy food made fresh and quickly. One World Enterprises signed the lease for the building even before they had the concept fully figured out.
Mease traveled through New York, Chicago, Miami and other cities visiting restaurants to gather inspiration for what is now Hive.
“For me, what's really appealing is this creative aspect of creating a restaurant,” Mease said. “If we can make art and also make it work economically then it works.”
While traveling, Mease said he went to many restaurants that offered roast chicken. He came to realize roast chicken was not a common food in Bloomington and decided to put it as a staple on Hive’s lunch and dinner menu. The restaurant gets chicken that is not genetically modified from an Indiana company called Miller Amish Country Poultry.
Hive’s menu includes four international-style bowls like the Churrasco bowl which is steak, jasmine rice, beans and toppings. They also offer sandwiches like the Hot Ham and Cheese.
The menu will stay the same throughout the year, but the fresh pies will change with what fruits are in season.
One of Hive's main goals is to be a sustainable and healthy business, Mease said.
“Sustainability, the concept, is like a three-legged stool,” Mease said. “I think of all the three E's of sustainability – economics, environment, and equity.”
They avoid offering anything with high-fructose corn syrup, meaning there are no typical soft drinks on the menu. Instead they sell mostly fruit-based drinks. For those still looking for the carbonation that comes with a soda, Hive sells a root beer and cardamom cream soda.
Hive also offers a wide variety of bread, pastries and pies that are baked in-store using an organic flour. Mease said the flour is about twice as expensive as regular flour but is worth the cost.
“We are all looking for good food – food that is made with hopefully not the bottom-of-the-barrel stuff that you can buy,” Mease said. “Stuff that you pay a little bit more for ingredients and you make better food with it.”
Springer added that the restaurant also commits to sustainability by composting, recycling and using paper straws as well as to-go boxes that are not plastic or made from recycled plastic.
Hive is crafted so that people can use it for different purposes. Springer said she has seen people come in for everything from lunch meetings to having a beer after work.
“There are a lot of opportunities to have different types of experiences here,” said Springer. “That is ultimately what we wanted: for it to be a community space for people to coming and going. Everyone has a different agenda but they can all still be here.”