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'It's the wild west out there': Broad Ripple owner temporarily closes nightclub amid pandemic worries

A Broad Rippler bar owner says few customers abide by the precautions outlined by the Marion County Health Department.
Credit: Mary Milz
Rock Lobster bar in Broad Ripple says its staying closed until the COVID-19 situation improves.

INDIANAPOLIS — A  Broad Ripple bar owner is temporarily closing his nightclub until the COVID-19 situation improves.

"At this point, I'd rather be part of the solution than part of the problem," Rob Sabatini, who owns Rock Lobster said. "It's the wild west out there. No one knows how to properly do everything that needs to be done [to keep employees and and customers safe]."

Rock Lobster is a large open space with few tables and a dance floor. 

At half capacity, Sabatini said the bar can legally accommodate 250 people but he said few customers abide by the precautions outlined by the Marion County Health Department.

He said when patrons arrive, "We take temperatures, ask about COVID symptoms and required everyone to wear a mask when they walk in the door."

But after that? 

"They'd take off their masks and go hang with friends in an unsocially-distant environment, so it's practically impossible to enforce because you don't have to wear a mask if you have a drink in your hand so it became evident we were unable to control our circumstances," he said.

Sabatini also owns Average Joe's and Mineshaft Saloon in Broad Ripple. He said both will remain open for now, saying they're smaller but with more tables and no dance floor.

RELATED: Some of city's best known bars in no hurry to reopen

RELATED: Bar employees voice concern after manager tests positive for COVID-19

Earlier this week, Landsharks, another Broad Ripple bar, confirmed its manager had tested positive for the coronavirus Friday, sparking concerns among employees. 

Two of them told 13News safety protocols were not being followed, allegations that the owner called "absolutely false."

The Marion County Health Department is investigating the claims.

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