Experts say more restaurants likely to close after Bourbon Street and Milano Inn

WISH Photo/Howard Monroe

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Regulars have until Friday to stop by Bourbon Street Distillery dn Downtown Indianapolis before the restaurant closes for good.

Now some worry that closure could start a trend.

The owners made the announcement on Facebook Tuesday afternoon.  They said the decision came after declining sales and the owner wanting to retire.

But as the city’s restaurant scene explodes there is concern that the little guy might be squeezed out.

“I’m going to hate it when it closes. Big disappointment,” said Richard Lee, as he sipped a beer at the bar.

A whiteboard above the bar is counting down the days to when they’ll close.

Patrons are left lamenting. Over the past 15 years the restaurant on Indiana Avenue near the Canal became known for its tenderloin sandwiches.

“The food is great. We love the atmosphere. We love the people,” said Lisa Davis, while waiting for a table.

The dining room was packed for lunch Wednesday afternoon. One employee said it was the busiest it’s been in months.

The owners, Katie Bray and Cindy Brant wrote in an email:

It’s a decision we have been struggling with for months. As sales have continued to decline over the years we were happy to stay open because we knew our staff loved their jobs and our regulars loved having a  bar they could call home. Unfortunately part of owning a business is knowing when to cut your losses and that is the point we have reached. Moving forward, we wish all the best for our staff and customers and appreciate their years of loyalty.

“It’s always sad when a local establishment closes, especially when its been here for 15 years. I’ve come here since I first moved to Indianapolis and it’s sad,” said Tami Gentry, who was there for lunch.

Bourbon Street is the second long-time restaurant to close this week. Milano Inn closed it doors Saturday night after 82 years in business.

“There’s just so much competition and so much turnover and so much newness going on in the restaurant scene that some of those old school places, unless they’re really staying relevant kind of get forgotten and left by the wayside,” said Julia Spalding, the dining editor at Indianapolis Monthly.

Spalding says in a city that’s becoming known for finer dining, successful restaurants have to peek millennials’ interests.

“They (millennials) just want to hit whatever the trendiest places that has just opened, and unfortunately that’s not Bourbon Street,” she said.

Spalding, as well as Jennifer Rubenstein of Edible Indy, and Jolene Ketzenberger of Eat Drink Say say the city likely hit a saturation point for restaurants. Meaning more closures are likely on the way.

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