Business owners along US 31: We’re still open

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — Some business owners near the US 31 construction in Hamilton County say the construction is hurting their business.

Back in April, 24-Hour News 8 spoke with business owners who said they were staying optimistic about the effect construction would have on them. Months later, they say business has been tough.

John Perazzo, owner of J-Razzo’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar in Carmel, which sits along the closed portion of US 31 and the open West Carmel Drive, says business has declined.

He says lunch business is down 50 percent and dinner business is down 15 to 20 percent.

“You have one bad night, it’s hard to sleep. You’re worried about paying your bills. I think about my employees a lot. It’s hard to have a bad night because I know they’re not making much money either,” said Perazzo.

Perazzo says he’s had to let some employees go.

Still, he’s staying optimistic, just hoping to make it until US 31 is set to reopen around Thanksgiving.

“I’m not going anywhere. I just have to think of new ideas to get people in,” said Perazzo.

A bit further north, also along Meridian, a few families found Jersey’s Cafe.

“It’s not easy, but we’re glad we got here,” said the patron.

They say it just takes a bit more maneuvering now.

Blair Laing, Executive Chief of Jersey’s Cafe, says he started to see declining sales back in September, when some construction started.

“When they shut down 31, sales started to plummet even more, mostly, because people couldn’t get to us, or people in the area consider us Armageddon,” Laing said.

He says he’s now considering moving, adding he’s had to cut his staff from about 35 people to about six.

For now, both restaurant owners, and others along the stretch, say they hope people will continue to make the trek.

“We’re all still open,” added Perazzo.

An INDOT spokesperson said Thursday that they’re on track to reopen the portion of US 31 that is closed around Thanksgiving.

He said it concerns them if any businesses are hurting. INDOT has been working to get out the word that roads are still open despite that portion of US 31 being closed.

Here’s a website with information on what roads are still open.

For example, you can take US 31 from the south all the way to Old Meridian, then take a left down West Carmel Drive to get to J-Razzo’s.

If you’re looking to get up near 136th Street where Jersey’s Café is close to, you can take Old Meridian and turn down Rohrer.

Here’s another look at the detour route.

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