Customers sad to hear of downtown pub closure

The Elbow Room pub in downtown Indianapolis (photo courtesy Elbow Room via Facebook)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - One of downtown's best-known pubs is closing.

The Elbow Room's last day is May 27. For many loyal customers, the news was hard to swallow. The pub has been around a long time. It opened in 1933, the year prohibition ended.

Becky Septoski said, "My reaction was, 'What? Oh no! This is our place.'"

Septoski and co-workers Melva Gray and Jennifer Greene work near the restaurant, which is located at 605 N. Pennsylvania St. They've had lunch at the Elbow Room just about every Thursday for 10 years.

"Restaurants come and go, but this one has been here a long time and that is surprising," Gray said.

Others echoed that, including Sara Falconer, who was also having lunch Thursday with colleagues.

"We feel every time we're here it's always full and and there are people outside enjoying drinks and food, so we just want to know why," Falconer said.

Rick Lux has owned the restaurant since 2002. He owns the two-story building along with Matt Berg under a separate LLC.

Tina Sullivan, a spokesperson for the owners said, "the pub concept is not working as well as it used to. They think it needs to be re-imagined, that this is a great opportunity for someone to re-imagine this corner block that's historical and is a great location."

She said Lux will continue to focus on his five other restaurants: Broad Ripple Tavern, Meridian, Blind Owl, Binkley's, and Nickel Plate in Fishers. She said Elbow Room employees will have the chance to work at one of them.

But that was little consolation to loyal customers. As Septoski said she loves "the atmosphere, the food. For me it feels like the show 'Cheers'."

Greene said they'll also miss Carrie, their long-time waitress.

"She'll say, 'You want the regulars?' She knows I want extra-crispy fries and that (Becky) wants lime in her Coke and she takes care of us...we've already asked her, 'Where are you going?'" Greene said.

Bill French, a retail broker with Cushman & Wakefield said, "They've had a long run, a great run...but the dynamics have changed."

More people are moving downtown and so are restaurants, many along the Massachusetts Avenue corridor.

"There's a lot of competition and unless you really do the volume, downtown is tough," French said, especially as rent continues to climb. Plus, people are hungry for new places, which bodes well for the owners of the Elbow Room property.

"I think it will go quickly," French said. "I'd say it's a B-plus location. Being on Mass Ave would be an A-plus, but they should have no problem finding a replacement."

Peter Szostka, who's been a long-time patron said, "We'll miss it, but if something else comes in, we'll be excited as well."