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Charlie & Barney's ends 36-year restaurant run

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The last remaining location of the venerable Charlie & Barney’s restaurant chain has closed after 36 years in business.

The Indianapolis company’s flagship restaurant, at 225 E. Ohio St., had served up the same signature chili since the privately held chain debuted in 1977.

Founder Richard Hogshire told IBJ he closed the location March 25 because he did not want to commit to another long-term lease. The restaurant occupied 4,500 square feet of space in the parking garage next to Market Square Center, better known as the "Gold Building."

“We just decided we wanted to retire on that store and focus on other things,” he said.  

At its peak, Charlie & Barney’s had a total of eight restaurants, with locations in Indianapolis; Atlanta; Denver; Charlotte, N.C.; Tulsa, Okla.; and Lexington, Ky.

Its other downtown location, on the first floor of PNC Center, closed late last year. In previous years, Hogshire also operated local Charlie & Barney's locations in Broad Ripple and at 86th Street and Ditch Road. The chain also had a franchise location at Keystone at the Crossing in the early 1980s.

Hogshire said a Charlie & Barney’s restaurant eventually could re-emerge, albeit as part of a small-store concept. He wants to open a few “express” eateries that don't included a bar or full wait service. He declined to divulge potential locations or specifics of his plans.

And despite the closing of his last restaurant, Hogshire plans to continue selling Charlie & Barney’s self-serve chili at convenience stores such as Village Pantry in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

Hogshire turned to express chili service after the idea of franchising restaurants nationwide didn’t exactly take off. In 2004, C&B management boldly predicted that the company would open some 200 such locations within four or five years. But the concept never gained steam and some of the early franchises closed.

The more modest expansion idea involving frozen chili was the brainchild of both Hogshire and Bill Church, the company’s former president and chief operating officer. Formerly a vice president at Roly Poly Rolled Sandwiches, Church met Hogshire when Roly Poly started offering Charlie & Barney’s chili.

Church left Charlie & Barney’s a few years ago and is president of CZ Growth Strategies LLC in Carmel.

Hogshire said he launched Charlie & Barney’s with the Ohio Street location, and it “just kind of progressed from there.” He named the restaurant after his two cats.

“It's kind of a sad time," he said. "I hate to see it go."

The restaurant had about 10 employees at the time of its closing, Hogshire said.

Crystal Houston, a broker at CBRE, is marketing the downtown space to other restaurant operators. The location, which is next to the Gold Building, seems to be attracting interest. Houston said she might have a tenant signed soon.

 

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  • gone but not forgotten
    I worked at the C&B Tulsa store In The Late 80s Early 90s. From Bartending To Managing. Still To This Day If People Find Out I Worked There They Will Comment On How That Was The Best Chili Around. Made Some Great Memories Over The Years. Sorry To Read It Has Since Closed Shop.
  • The Avenue
    I saw a sign on the first floor of the The Avenue building over by IUPUI campus that they are opening one up there!
  • Wow!
    I used to go to the one in Atlanta practically everyday for lunch. There were zillions of other places in the downtown P'tree Ctr food court, but this was always my favorite. When it was my turn to pick the place for lunch, my lunch buddies KNEW what my choice was going to be.
  • Used to work there
    Used to work at the Broadripple location back in the early 90's. Its seems like eon's ago. I basically worked my way through college during my undergrad degree there.
  • Sad...
    I too used to work downtown and ate there often. Loved their chili, hot dogs and taco salads. When my sister and her husband would come up from TN, they always wanted to go there to eat. Guess I will have to check out the VP offerings. Hate to see them end their run!
  • ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
    sorry to see this go. when i used to work downtown and visit other venues, found C&B to be the ONLY chili i would eat other than my mom's HOOSIER CHILI. Never knew 'outside' chili could be that good (very finiky) and the (to me) sophisticated addition of sour cream and shredded cheese was terrific. Now always eat homemade chili that way. Sample of convenience store product was a ghost of the main store quality. Now gotta get out my chili pot and make Mom's cause I'll miss C&B.
  • Will be missed
    C&B was one of my go to spots for lunch, especially in the winter. I remember going to the location at 86th & Ditch all the time with my grandma. It was our favorite place. I hope it comes back in some form.
  • Say It Ain't So!
    Every Friday night was C&B night in Broad Ripple for my husband and myself, and any number of friends and coworkers we would bring along. Where am I going to get my chili & frank w/ s'ghetti? I'll be on the lookout for a future C&B --perhaps a foodie truck? That would be awesome!!
  • Farewell
    The 86th & Ditch location was a long-time favorite spot of ours. The food always was good and prices very reasonable. I do hope C&Bs is recreated in some form - and would love to see one located on the northside again.
  • Gonna miss their chili pie!
    Guess I'll need to bring my own bag of Frito's when I order my chili out. Bummer!
  • Great Memories
    Sorry to see it close. When I was in high school 25+ years ago, I worked at the Charlie & Barney's in what was then called the Hyatt Regency Center. My job every morning was to fry all the bacon that would be included in the sandwiches that day. Charlie & Barney's always served great food at a decent price.
  • Sad to see it go...
    When I was a kid lawyer, we used to stop in there after work. Some of the other lawyers in the Gold Building would stop by. Alot of them are pretty prominent people these days. Sad to see it go, but times change.

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