Kitchen Dwellers

Madison, Ind., couple to open three restaurants this year

The Breecks had been feeding folks from their
food truck

(March 2020) – When Joe Breeck decides to do something, he goes all in. From starting a barge manufacturing company, taking over a country restaurant, a food truck business and new restaurants in Madison, Ind., each one has become bigger and better.
In the next few months, Joe and his wife, Beth, hope to complete their current dream of opening three eateries in Madison. One will be in Clifty Plaza on Clifty Drive, another will be next to L&L Lounge on Lanier Drive and the third one will be downtown on Jefferson Street.
Like many entrepreneurs, Breeck’s road from the beginning to where he is now is long and varied. As a youngster, he had two loves – playing the guitar and wrestling. As a teenager he played in various bands that performed in bars, and he wrestled for Madison Consolidated High School. Eventually, he had to pick one over the other, and music won out.
But even before that he would hang out in his dad’s boat building business, located on Wilson Avenue. As his guitar prowess grew, his dad had the wisdom to insist that he learn welding.
“Do what you love,” said his father, “but in the music business, you’re probably going to need something that is going to pay the bills, so learn welding.”

Photo by Ben Newell

Beth and Joe Breeck are working on opening a restaurant downtown and two on the Madison, Ind., hilltop.

So even before he became a teenager, he became a good welder. “I hated welding,” says Joe with a grin.
That “hated” skill eventually led him to start his own barge building company, located on State Road 250, near Pleasant. The stacked barge components look a little out of place in the heart of Amish country and far from the river. Breeck notes that the Amish in the area have worked for him, and each section of the barges can be put on a tractor trailer.
The boat shop is just down the road from a country store-restaurant-hardware business, located on Route 129. When Breeck figured out how much money he was spending there and that there were always other customers, he decided to buy the business. As he developed the restaurant side of the business, he found that when he offered good quality food, people would come, even from long distances. And for those not familiar with the location, this is a very rural area.
While attending a motocross event, Breeck noticed that there were a couple of thousand people,  participants and fans out in the country all day who had no place to get something to eat. With his business mind churning, he eventually came up with a super-sized food truck or mobile kitchen idea. After several years of chasing the motorcyclists around the country, he decided that life was too short to be spending his weekends flipping hamburgers inside a trailer, so he sold the business.
Meanwhile the barge fabrication business had taken off, and Breeck was sending his products all around the country and the world. One of his major sales was to a company in South Africa. After constructing it in his shop, the sections were shipped to that country, and then he and Beth went there to put it together. “Yeah, Joe went out to oversee the project, and I spent the time in a resort,” Beth said, laughing.
Beth is what Joe calls “the brains of the outfit.” She handles much of the paperwork, including taxes, payroll, ordering supplies and the myriad of other details that it takes to run a business.
After being out of the food business for several years, the Breecks got the itch to get back into it. While they originally weren’t thinking on three locations, their plans morphed in that direction.
The first plan was to take the old Bello’s Pizza location on Clifty Drive and turn it into an upscale dining experience. Using the same theory that he used in his country restaurant, he says, “If you have good food and service, people will come and be willing to pay for it.” The Rivertown Eatery will feature fresh steaks and seafood and a massive menu full of other entrées. It will also house a rare historical bar that the Breecks found in Texas. 
The Rivertown Pizza will be located at the intersection of State Street and Lanier Drive. This building is attached to L&L Lounge, and it will be carry out pizza only. If he’s not cooking a pizza and you are lucky, you may see Joe in the other room playing his guitar at J.Js.
The Rivertown Grill on Jefferson Street will offer some of the items found on the hilltop at the Eatery. Sandwiches, including hoagies, made with special rolls will also be sold there. The Grill will be the first of the three eateries to open, with the expectation of that happening in the next couple of months.
Since the Breecks had the Ohio River running through their towns – Beth in Vevay, and Joe in Madison – they wanted a local name as part of their enterprises, hence the name Rivertown being in each one of them. Beth will be in charge of staffing the three locations and they are seeking employees.

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