By Karen Kennedy
After months of rumors swirling and speculation, the Carmel location of Shapiro’s Delicatessen has closed its doors.
Employees said they were given the news on June 12 that the restaurant would close June 17, and the atmosphere was somber in the storefront as employees absorbed the news.
The Meridian Street and Indianapolis airport locations are not affected.
Company president Brian Shapiro called the closing of the Carmel location a “strategic decision” that will allow him to focus his attention more fully on the flagship location in downtown Indianapolis. A statement was released June 12 which cited high overhead and slower than expected development on Range Line Road as contributing factors in the ultimate demise of the location.
“My family and I worked very hard for more than a decade to sustain the Carmel restaurant,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro opened the 11,500-square-foot Carmel location in 2001 as the first occupant of the new City Center development.
Ara Knepp, the facility manager of Althletico which is a neighboring business, expressed disbelief and dismay upon hearing the news.
“There were literally busloads of people in and out of there all the time,” Knepp said. “Rumors have definitely been going around. Patients have been asking if they were closing. But it doesn’t make any sense, it was always busy. I guess I need to go in there and get my fix. I’ve always told people how to find us by asking them if they knew where Shapiro’s was. I guess I’ll have to do something else now.”
“They have been good neighbors,” said Curt Wible, co-owner of Shapiro’s next-door neighbor, Kitchen Wright. “When we opened in 2009, they brought food in and welcomed us to the area. As a business owner, I hate to see any business have to close their doors. Shapiro’s brought a lot of foot traffic by our store, but I know we’ll be fine. This is a great location, and I’ve noticed a huge upswing of residents in the area. People are jogging and walking their dogs at all hours throughout the day. I hope to see another restaurant come into the space.”
There is a great deal of confusion surrounding the ownership and tenancy agreements of the building at 918 S. Range Line Rd. Although many people have assumed that Brian Shapiro owned the entire building, both Wible and Knepp pay their rent to Dr. Debbie Boyer of Cornerstone Dentistry.
“What I do know is that he (Shapiro) paid a lot less rent than we do,” Knepp said.
Shapiro had a lease agreement with the city dating back to 2010, when the Carmel Redevelopment Corp. bought out Shapiro’s nearly $2.5-million mortgage. Shapiro was to have been making rent payments in the amount of $1,000 per month, but not all of those payments have been received. According to records at the Hamilton County Assessor’s office, Shapiro owns 98 percent of his building, with the City of Carmel owning the rest. However, the City of Carmel is paying the property taxes, which are current. According to Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard, Shapiro is in the process of signing over his stake in the building to the CRC to avoid foreclosure.