Saturday, May 16, 2020


"After running my restaurants for 17 years, including 10 years in New York City and Chicago, I've had a lot of time during these shuttered months to pore through industry and news reports, talk to colleagues and attend Zoom forums about the state of my industry. I have had a bird's-eye view of the crisis through the James Beard Foundation, where I am a trustee.

Though we restaurateurs have faith in our creativity and resilience, the prognosis is dire. Some 1,400 of us responded to a recent survey by the Beard Foundation and the Independent Restaurant Coalition. It predicted that months of closings, mounting debt and diminished capacity will kill perhaps 80% of America's independent restaurants."

Here in Broad Ripple, which is at its heart an "entertainment district" where restaurants and pubs form the backbone, there have been surprisingly few closures so far.

Although I patronized Next Door SoBro at least once a month...probably closer to weekly, actually...the news of their closing doesn't come as a shock. They're at the far southern edge of the gentrified area of Broad Ripple/SoBro and struggled to fill the dining room even when new. Patronage had been sparse the last few times I was there, and the takeout quality via DoorDash had noticeably dipped. The 'Rona likely just threw the first shovelful of dirt into what was already an open grave.

Brugge, while it will be sorely missed, is another that wasn't a total surprise. Rents at the mystical corner of Westfield and Westfield have got to be brutal, and the Basque joint that they opened upstairs cratered in a matter of months, which couldn't have helped the bottom line. This looks like an orderly retreat, though, and they're already hunting for a new location with lower overhead than smack in the middle of the Ripple.

If I had to wager a guess, I'd bet that the building they're in and the little one immediately to their south are owned by the same landlord who'd love to sell out to a developer, who will put in another of the four- or five-story Mixed Use Developments that are springing up like weeds in the neighborhood.

I remember when I moved here a dozen years ago, we jokingly called the teeny little three story professional building across the Monon Trail from the Brewpub the "Broad Ripple skyline". Good times. And so it goes.