Broad Ripple seeking to diversify business

Broad Ripple tends to be quiet during the day - a far cry from a Friday night when it's bustling.
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Broad Ripple businesses are sharing new concerns a day after a Whole Foods got the go-ahead to build in the north side neighborhood. Some owners are saying that it's not what's coming in, but what's leaving, that really worries them.

Broad Ripple on a Thursday afternoon is quiet. There's not a lot of traffic and quite a lot of parking. A growing number of businesses are trying to avoid closing for good.

Megan Lassister is the regional manager for Naked Chop Sticks, which has five restaurants and two on the way. She admits the one in Broad Ripple could be doing better.

"I know people that work in different restaurants and different bars in the area, and even at the night clubs, business is down. I think there's a lot to do with businesses opening on Mass. Ave. and other areas downtown," she said.

Elizabeth Marshall with the Broad Ripple Village association believes the village is at a crossroads. While it generally thrives at night, it hasn't fared so well as a daytime destination. The former Scholar's Inn Bakery and Barley Island site at the corner of College and 62nd has been vacant for two years.

"What we as a neighborhood association have been working on is how do we improve the diversity of businesses? How do we get businesses that serve lots of different needs at all times of the day? Different ages and stages," she said.

Along with businesses closing, some are leaving Broad Ripple. Dan Jarman moved his Fat Dan's Chicago Style Deli to 54th and College for several reasons.

"High expenses for rent, there was a bit of crime issue," he said. But Jarman likes the area's bustling neighborhood feel.

"Dense population in terms of living; a higher median income. People like to walk in the area," he explained.

Whether a Whole Foods would help is up for debate, but most would agree Broad Ripple needs to expand its reach.