INDIANAPOLIS — People are finally getting a taste of the city's newest hotspot.
Tuesday morning, the Garage Food Hall in the Bottleworks District opened to the public.
It's housed in a 36,000-square-foot space that was once a garage for the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, built in 1931. The sprawling space is now home to 14 locally-owned and operated restaurants and shops, with more to follow.
Lance George, who stopped by to check things out, called it, "absolutely fantastic. It's great to have so many restaurants here."
Loren Shores said she liked "all the variety. I'm excited to see it all come together, figure out what's going to be here and just explore."
The Garage is part of $300 million mixed-use development at the north end of Mass Ave that spans 12 acres. After Coca-Cola left in the 1960s, Indianapolis Public Schools bought it, using it as a service center, until selling it.
Geronimo Hospitality Group, based in Beloit, Wis., wanted to transform it into something special while honoring its architectural legacy.
They re-purposed the main office building into a 139-room luxury hotel, restoring the original terrazzo floors and art deco features. Living Room Theaters is also part of the district. It includes eight screens featuring independent films.
Despite opening in the midst of pandemic, Nicole Ulrich, general manager of the food hall, said there was no turning back.
"As a company, our position is we are going to power forward. We feel strongly the city is eager for this and we feel very safe," she said. "We're super excited to be here."
George Munoz opened La Chinita Poblana in the food hall, a restaurant he had in Broad Ripple for more than five years.
"It's less risk," Munoz said. "It's going to be a bigger audience. It gives me a lot more ways to promote it."
Bottleworks is also expected to help nearby shops and restaurants on Mass Ave by attracting more people to the area.
Amanda Mauer Taflinger, who owns Homespun: Modern Handmade, said, "I'm really hoping it will be a good thing for us. I have no doubt in my mind it will be. I'm just excited to see it open."
As were so many others who flocked to the new venue for lunch today.
Bob and Bev Webber came from Zionsville.
"I heard about it and I'm impressed. We'll be back," Bob said.