Beer bar stakes claim on corner of new Broad Ripple parking garage

INDIANAPOLIS - A new watering hole will take its place later this summer on one of Broad Ripple's most frequented corners - but it's in a building that's had some trouble holding onto business in the past.

BarFly Ventures has announced it will open its new beer bar, HopCat, at 6280 N. College Ave. That's in the first floor of the new parking garage that opened in April 2013 on the southwest corner of College and Broad Ripple Avenue.

The restaurant and bar will feature 130 craft beers on tap and officials say its draft system will be the biggest in Indianapolis, with many of its taps featuring Indiana's craft brews.

HopCat's owners describe its menu as an eclectic mix of fresh appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, salads and wraps.

The beer bar should be ready for drinkers by late August, BarFly said, and will create roughly 100 positions -- a large number for a restaurant.

The announcement comes nearly a year after a May 2, 2013 ribbon-cutting and news conference in which Mayor Greg Ballard joked about filling the space with Keystone’s CEO, Ersal Ozdemir.

"I know something will be in here, Ersal, eventually right?" Ballard said at the podium on May 2.

But will the beer bar last in that location?

Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney has examined the building where HopCat will reside ever since it opened last year. A project built with $6.35 million of the taxpayers' money, Kenney discovered a lot of issues with the parking garage itself.

Five months after the $15-million garage opened, Kenney found the elevator not working on several occasions, water pooling in certain areas and signs not up to city code. That last problem was fixed right after our original piece aired.

Through a rigorous investigation, Call 6 also learned the parking garage was going largely unused. By counting cars day and night last fall, we learned of the 328 paid spaces in the garage, the structure was only 5.5 percent full on average.

And the parking garage is not the only sore spot for the building. One business has already come and gone in the year the structure has been open: Firehouse Subs, near the south end of the building, recently closed.

None of the businesses in that building, however, have been beer-related yet, so HopCat may find success in the area.

Chris Knape, communications director for HopCat told Kenney he sees the garage as a huge asset and opportunity.

"The garage is being underutilized," Knape said. "We really hope a lot of our customers will walk, bike and take mass transit, but yeah, the garage is also a huge asset for us. For customers who choose to drive, the garage will be a huge choice for them."

Despite the city’s $6.35 million investment, it does not get to keep any of the parking revenue generated by the garage.

HopCat will have a capacity for about 300 people, Knape said.

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