Shapiro’s Delicatessan will close its Carmel eatery effective Monday after years of struggling to make ends meet.
The venerable restaurant’s operation at 808 S. Meridian St. in Indianapolis and an Indianapolis International Airport outpost will not be affected, the company said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
Closing the location at 918 S. Range Line Road in Carmel was a “strategic decision” that will allow Shapiro’s to focus on its flagship downtown restaurant, which specializes in sandwiches and other Kosher-style dishes.
“My family and I worked very hard for more than a decade to sustain the Carmel restaurant,” company President Brian Shapiro said in the statement.
Shapiro’s built the 11,500-square-foot restaurant in 2001 and was the first occupant at Carmel City Center, but nearby development occurred more slowly than expected.
In 2010, the Carmel Redevelopment Commission bought Shapiro’s $2.5 million mortgage, and the company began making payments to the CRC.
Eventually, it fell behind and stopped paying taxes on the property. The CRC settled an overdue tax bill of $8,138 in January to protect its interests; another $3,944 was due last month.
Brian Shapiro’s BJS LLC remains the 98-percent owner of the property, but Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said Shapiro is in the process of signing over its stake in the building to the CRC to avoid foreclosure.
“If he’s not going to oeprate a restaurant there, there’s not much point in continuing to own the building,” said Ice Miller attorney Tim Ochs, who was fielding media inquiries on Shapiro’s behalf. Ochs declined to answer questions about the company’s debt or payment history.
The city now is weighing a couple of options for the building, Brainard said. It could use it in whole or in part to house city offices. Employees now "are stacked like sardines," the mayor said. The second option is to sell the property.
A consulting invoice from CRC Executive Director Les Olds filed with the city includes several references to Shapiro’s, including an April 23 note that he was beginning to prepare a request for proposals for the sale of the property “with an anticipated June or July 2013 bid date.”
The Hamilton County Republican Party's June Breakfast Club meeting, scheduled for Monday at Shapiro's, has been moved to Stanford's Restaurant in Clay Terrace.
City Councilor Luci Snyder said the building cost more than $200 a square foot to build, and nearby development wasn't as quick to take off as initially expected.
She said Shapiro's had great sales, but too much space. There's been talk of it closing for several months.
"The long and agonizing death throes appear to be at an end," she said.
The assessed value of the property was $1.4 million in 2012, according to county tax records. CRC officials were working to get a new appraisal this spring.
“It’s really too bad. Shapiro’s is an institution,” said City Council President Rick Sharp. “In the end, the overhead involved with supporting a building of that size was just too much.”