INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A northeast side restaurant can no longer host parties after police raided one there early Sunday morning.
The temporary closing is for Big Fella’s on the corner of College and Fairfield Avenue. Police said the late night “after party” looked more like a casino and strip club.
Officers originally went to a warehouse in the 3400 hundred block of North Hovey Street at 4 a.m. Sunday, but someone there told them the party moved to Big Fella’s.
Police said when they showed up, they could see people on the balconies and in the windows. Police say they found a highly organized gambling operation — complete with tables they’ve only seen in actual casinos.
There was also alcohol being served — something no business can do after 3 a.m., let alone one that doesn’t have a liquor license.
Sergeant Bill Carter with IMPD’s Nuisance Abatement Unit said late night parties like the one raided are magnets for crime.
“I really don’t like empty buildings in our city. I would rather have an empty building though than a place that’s open that’s not safe and there’s going to be violence,” Sgt. Carter said. “There was a large fight that broke out here while we were trying to get the people inside.”
24-Hour News 8 spoke to the owner over the phone. She said she had no idea parties like the one police describe raiding on Sunday were happening above her restaurant.
But police said she along with all the people living in the area should have seen the signs. Standing close enough to clearly see and hear what was happening on the second floor of Big Fella’s, Sgt. Carter and two more IMPD officers ventured inside the restaurant.
“We went upstairs, met a uniformed security officer who was actually running out of the building, I don’t know who he was,” he said.
Inside, police took pictures showing a party they describe as a make shift casino and club, complete with card tables, bottles of alcohol, and strippers.
“The gambling, women are in there getting drunk and taking clothes off, I mean it’s not a good mixture,” said Mackenzie Craig.
She works at Craig Funeral Home, only one door down from Big Fella’s.
“It’s just sad, we don’t want to deal with that,” she said.
Sgt. Carter said the neighboring parking lot, as well as two nearby empty green lots were completely filled with the cars of the people attending the party. He said it’s an obvious red flag that should give neighbors a reason to call police, but that’s not the only warning sign.
“There’s no permits for a place to be open past 3 a.m. serving alcohol,” said Sgt. Carter. “So at 3 a.m., if a business is opening, obviously there’s probably an indication something’s going on in there, and there’s possibly something illegal.”
Sgt. Carter said he’s not just trying to stop the illegal activities inside, but keep them from spreading out into the streets.
Craig feels if closing Big Fella’s can do that, then so be it.
“We have enough death going around in Indianapolis. Last thing we need is to just sit around and wait until something happens. Because eventually, something bad will happen,” she said.
A hearing will be held later this month to determine if Big Fella’s ban on hosting parties should be permanent or lifted. Sgt. Carter said the restaurant didn’t have the proper license to serve alcohol nor zoning to host gambling and exotic dancing.
The owner told 24-Hour News 8 she had no idea those activities were happening inside, saying the people she rented it out to never told her about it.