Cafe Nora, Ruth's Cafe close

July 14, 2009
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Cafe NoraCafe Nora, a casual Southern European restaurant along East 86th Street in front of Target, has closed after a more than 7-year run. Owner Jim Nethercott said he had to shut down Saturday because of falling traffic and other financial troubles. His sales were down 34 percent from two years ago. The landlord, Target, is giving Nethercott time to find a buyer, he said. Nethercott also had to shut down Ruth's Keystone Cafe, across the street from the Fashion Mall at Keystone, about two weeks ago.
  • Blame in on Kroger.
  • Good riddance! Maybe it might have to do with the snobby and pretentious service that customers received there.
  • Indy at 1:36, go to hell. It's morons like you that has left Indianapolis a cesspool of Chili's and McDonald's.
  • Seems to me that Cafe Nora has been around much longer than 7 years. Maybe the current owner has only been there 7 years. Am I wrong?
  • Smith & Hawken the garden store is going out of business.
  • Ruth's Cafe was nothing special.Pretty hard to make it with overpriced
    omilet's in that area.I think he was trying to compete with Sunrise Cafe and Le Peep.Very hard to do in this economy.I don't think Ruth's Cafe will be missed.
  • There has been a restaurant in the Cafe Nora site since at least the mid-80s.

    Hey Pete, chill out. I don't think calling out snobby and pretentious service equates to favoring Chili's and McDonald's. Del Friscos and Laughner's in Nora also suffered from the same defect and they're long gone. A couple of chains disappeared too (BK and Schlozky's). The Nora area still supports independents like Hellas Cafe,the Snooty Fox and others.
  • Equating Laughner's with Cafe Nora is further proof that people in Indianapolis know nothing about food.

    For the record, Cafe Nora hardly had snobby or pretentious service. I realize that having a wait staff not decked out in goofy buttons or wearing Dr. Suess hats must be hard for normal Indy residents to handle.
  • Good riddance to Smith & Hawken. I went there once and decided it was the kind of place Betty Draper would shop at so she could tend to her garden in designer gardening gloves and a sun dress.
  • Sadly, the food (or the service) at Cafe Nora just didn't stand out.... and before you get started on me Pete, I can appreciate good food every bit as well as you, so bug off!
  • I just noticed a for lease sign at the Abbey Coffee House by the Central Library. Any news on that?
  • Can't speak for Cafe Nora but I was a fan of Ruth's...
  • Pete,
    Think before you call people out in this forum. What simply is implied is that the service at Cafe Nora was terrible. I for one agree. There are many restaurants that serve good food in town, but have subpar service. Cafe Nora happened to be a restaurant with subpar service to go with the subpar food. I had only eaten there three times in the last year and a half, but two of those trips left me wishing I had picked somewhere else.
  • Everyone is suffering in this recession..........and to be fair Cafe Nora (in my humble opinion) was just eh far from horrible, but it seemed like they didn't keep things interesting if that makes sense.
    I didn't get a chance to go to Ruth's but I love the Patachous! Also Tulip Noir isn't bad either! Indianapolis doesn't seem to suffer from a lack of independent breakfast places.
  • Seems like it's easier to report who is still open these days..
  • It seems apparent to me that Indianapolis has just about given up the proverbial ghost when it comes to independent restauranteurs. There have been too many lost within the past few years, even prior to the recent implosion of the economy.
    I travel quite a bit for work and am constantly surrounded by the so-called big-box restaurants, where I typically refuse to eat. We try very hard to patronize locally owned and operated establishments, even when we travel, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to do. My mother-in-law was quite fond of Cafe Nora, I was not because like several others have noted, I felt it was pretentious and the food and service was typically sub-par. But, there again, I find one of the more popular eateries on Mass. Ave to be equally as pretentious, but they have better food. Nothing like spending $150 for dinner for two and being ignored by the celebrity chef when she pointedly comes around to every table in the small establishment to chat with the regulars and totally ignores those of us who don't frequent this tony bistro on a nightly basis, I suppose.
  • I always hate to see a local operator go under. I still kick myself for passing up a few trips to Fletchers and the Pawn Shop. I am now inspired to head to Canal Bistro for dinner tonight!

    Side note: if they survived at least 7 years, they must have done something right (see: Bonjour Café)
  • Its a shame. No matter how you look at it. Indianapolis does support independants, to be sure. But lets not forget, we are is some seriously rough economic times. The places that can provide, good food, good service, and good value, consistently, will endure. The problem that arises in economies such as this is that people are less willing to take a risk with their hard earned dollar. FIne dining is one of the first luxuries to be cut from most families budgets in times such as these, and it is a lot easier to spend your money at a place that has consistently provided a perceived value. So before we go bashing indy again for not supporting local restaurants, keep in mind that restaurateurs all around the country are hurting. Restaurants are closing, because people, in a financial pinch, are reallocating those discretionary dollars. Hell, even the mammoth Oceanaire filed for Chapter 11 protection closing 5 (4?) units. ITS A RECESSION FOLKS. IT HURTS EVERYONE.......
  • creative destruction at work... deal with it.

    Indy has awesome independents and they are growing. Doesn't mean that 90% of the new ventures won't close but give it time. Born and raised here and my first hand knowledge says we're better now than we were when I grew up. We're not perfect, and yes we have bland student housing going up by IUPUI (I for one am glad to see), but we ARE MAKING GAINS.

    Some of my fav independents:
    Corner Wine Bar (food is coming along)
    Bubs/Bubs Cafe (only place for a burger!)
    Union Jacks
    Mud Bugs
    Michael's (bfast joint in Carmel)
    News Cafe (Best Cuban in Town)
    La Piedad
    Patachou (they still count right?)
    Tai Cafe
    Indian Garden
    Mediterranean Cafe

    Gosh I'm going to miss Broad Ripple when I move to Carmel for the schools, taxes, and low crime (and I wish I was kidding)!
  • Average Joe loves restaurant talk as he is a semi-retired inmate from that asylum.

    The recession is an excuse by many operators who have have planned poorly or have bad food/service/value. Many places have not missed a beat in the last couple of years and there are some promising newcomers that seem to have legs.
  • Ruth's took down Cafe Nora....the shame is that there are limited northside places to eat a quality breakfast.....he should have opened Cafe Nora for Breakfast...and he would have done great, with no expensive additional K@Crossing Rent....I liked Ruth's, but it is hard to make it open for 5 hours a day....I also liked Cafe Nora, they had some of the best fish in town, service may have been slow, but it was a place for a meal, not in and out.....unfortunately his financial ruin is his gamble on Ruth's...
  • Ruth's was one of my favorite places for breakfast. They could do a really good Benedict and I liked their scones.
  • Ivo, I'm with you on the list of favorite Indy indies. As for the gripes in some of these posts, there IS a recession, and seven years is not a bad run.

    As for leaving Indy for Carmel? Such is the price you pay for living in the big city instead of a pretentious paved-over cornfield. Carmel is nice, but dull. (Let me say some of my best freinds and family members live there.)

    Indy? Yes it has diversity AND a little danger -- spice of life. Some people are better suited for Peoria than Chicago, New Rochelle rather than NYC -- so be it.

    I've lived in this city, well south of Broad Ripple for ten years and can't say I've felt threatened -- yes a little more on my toes, but I've yet to be victim of a violent crime, even a property crime. Hamilton County has its share of crime: bored kids vandalizing property, bored hoousewives and husbands killing each other. At least in Indy most violent crime's on streetcorners and homes in certain neighborhoods -- usually one bad guy against another bad guy.

    Schools? Yes it might be hard to argue IPS over Carmel, but good Lord, for all benefits, Carmel has little choice, pretty much one big suburban mindset, and one big fat high school -- how many students? 4,000?

    Taxes? Are they that much cheaper there? For all the roundabouts, it sure has some questionable ways of funding them.

    The grass may be greener on the other side, but I like to mix it up with a few weeds and wildflowers.

    Getting back to food, if you like Wonder Bread, make Hendricks County home; Pepperidge Farm white bread? Make it Carmel. And you'll have no trouble finding chain restaurants.
  • According the Star, Cafe Nora opened in 1992 - but the current owner has been in charge the last seven years. So it made a good run.
  • Sorry to hear Ivo. It will slowly... well, maybe quickly, suck your life away. Maybe you'll find a way to stay in a real city :)

    I can't speak for Ruth's, but I do worry about the chains defining the uniqueness of a place. I don't have an answer, but I think its very easy to turn into a cheesy place that way.

    Check out Variations on a Theme Park
  • Ivo -

    I live in Indianapolis, in one of the best school districts in the state (Washington Township), in a neighborhood that is extremely safe, and property taxes are very low. Just a few miles from Broad Ripple and a short 15-20 minute jaunt to downtown. In the middle of some great shops, restaurants and parks. No long commutes to the burbs. You CAN live in Indy and experience a great quality of life. You don't have to run off to Carmel and give up. But you obviously wanted to, and that's ok. Nothing wrong with it.
  • I fear news like this is going to get more frequent in the next two to five years. We all need to support our communities rather than the corporate raiders that take all of our money out of here.
  • I will miss Cafe Nora. I never had bad service there. The food may have been a bit overpriced but it was a good atmosphere and a very nice asset to the neighborhood. Sometimes it is nice to not have to go to broad ripple or downtown to get something unique.
  • Carmel, IN = too many boring over the hill soccer moms.
  • Parkershade - my sentiments exactly! I live south Broad Ripple and love it - yes there's crime from time to time, but I've never personally experienced it. I like my house, neighborhood, and it's location in the city.

    IVO - you left off two of my favorites from your list - Marco's and the Keystone Deli. Both vastly different from each other but both are delicious! I would also add Mississippi Belle - their home style meals and sweet tea are good too. Oh, yeah, and the Donut Shop - I think their donuts are MUCH better than any Dunkin'.

    Woody - the Pawn Shop lives again between Marco's and Just Judy's on 54th Street. I don't know how it compares to the original, but it always looks crowded.
  • Biscuits in Broadripple is good for breakfast.
  • Well,it looks like we have all got it figured out...Sounds like all of us need to go into the resturante business...Ha ha
  • We had our wedding rehearsal dinner at Cafe Nora's. How sad that it's closing.
  • Too bad about Cafe Nora. I ate there once but wasn't knocked out.

    Ron, regarding the Abbey, I hear that Mark and Moises have taken jobs in Texas. I would love to see something nice go into that spot.
  • Its amusing how many people are so quick to stereo-type Carmel. Over the past 7 years I have lived in Broad Ripple, Downtown Indy, and Carmel. My current neighbors in Carmel are more ethnically diverse than I found in either Broad Ripple or downtown. My neighborhood has a large percentage of residents of Asian and Middle Eastern descent, much more so than BR or d-town. And here's the real shocker. A gay couple recently moved into my neighborhood (gasp! sarcasim) And yes, they have been socially accepted by the community.

    So those of you who insist on portraying everybody in Carmel as white-bread soccer moms need to face the facts. Carmel in 2009 is not the same as Carmel circa 1989. Continue to throw stones if you want, but let the record show that you are dead wrong in your assumptions.

    Finally, to the person who said taxes in Carmel are roughly the same as Washington they are not. In fact, the tax rate in Clay Township is roughy HALF the rate in Washinton Township.
  • I too try to support the independent restaurants in Indy and am glad for their success. I am a bit worried about the breakfast/lunch spin-off of Mama Carolla's tho. Sure is slow coming on line...
  • The reason Indianapolis has higher taxes is because of aging infrastucture..........None of the suburbs are going to be immune from that. If the wealthy tax base didn't continue to move further away from the city core every 10 years or so taxes wouldn't be a huge issue........we keep putting off the costs for the next generation. Carmel's bill will be due at some point.
  • Yes, some day, Carmel will be the OLD north side......
  • Parkershade and others: I know where you're coming and heard it all before. I'm the product of IPS and sorry but I WILL NOT subject my kids to it. If have an xtra 10k/year per child I'm absolutley staying. Otherwise I feel I have no choice. Ok enough about me.

    Parker: check out Urban's Series on Carmel (info packed):

    As Preston stated this aint your Dad's Carmel. I'm a fan becuase it is steadily becoming a world class (that's right I said it) edge city full of diversity.

    I encourage you to research what's going on there. BTW... roundabouts from a stand point of efficiency, cost over time, design, aesthetics, etc are the freaking shizznit my friend.

    My ripple taxes are roughly 300% higher than they would be in Carmel. Nuff said.

    For the record I wouldn't not move into a suburban style development anywhere! I roll TND and walkability baby! I REFUSE to give that up! If you don't know now you know sucka! j/k :)
  • It is funny how the conversation can start about indy restaurants and goes to schools and the burbs. Looks to me like a fish bowl effect and both the owners and the city suffer. Invest in your self, neighbors and businesses, thus walking the walk not talking it. Half the restaurants named are now local chains. There is nothing wrong with a chain. What is for sure they define another place or demographic. You want to have a city culture then build one. Or, is everyone happy to be a burger with fries? I know that the ethnic restaurants in the city are great and they are making it. Why? Cause they are good at what they do. You can not say that about our diners.
  • (Aside: Ivo, IPS' Magnet Programs are fantastic and attended only by students whose parents care enough about their kid(s) education to apply to them.)

    I had heard Ruth's was a great breakfast, too bad I never made it there.
  • Oh, oh, and also: I had outstanding Vietnamese yesterday at a hole in the wall by Lafayette Mall? Square? Somewhere near 50 and lafayette, I think. I had thought there was no good ethnic in Naptown - obviously it just takes some hunting in neighborhoods I don't usually travel!
  • Ivo, Firewoman et al.

    Do not mean to throw stones at Carmel. Yes it's too easy -- like it's easy throwing stones at Indy from Hamilton County. Now THAT never happens does it? Bottom line, if it were not for Indy, Carmel wouldn't be there.

    As for restaurants, anyone notice how E. 54th Street between Keystone and College is an avenue of local dining, most of it outstanding?

    West from Keystone, start with Steak n' Shake (local for us,) then Marco's, Just Judy's, Pawn Shop, Mississippi Belle, Zest, the new pasta shop, Locally Grown (produce & food), Momma Carolla's, Momma's in the Morning, Jazz Kitchen, Yats, Bulldog, Moe and Johnny's, Cornerstone Coffee, Sam's Middle Eastern, Northside News cuban sandwiches, and throw in Fresh Market for good measure. That's quite an array in a short stretch of street. That synergy alone is worth mentioning.

    There are more locals scattered throughout, north to Broad Ripple of course, and spots south of there on College, Penn, and don't forget 56th and Illinois. Throw in downtown, and lots of interesting international stuff in the Lafayette Square area as was mentioned previously, and you have a buttload of mostly good food, and local owners. I'm impressed even as I write this!
  • Don't forget Fountain Square - Siam Square, Peppy Grill, Naisa Asian Cafe, Gusto!, Luxor Egyptian/Italian/Mediterranean, Deano's Vino, Smokehouse on Shelby, shelBi Street caFe and Bistro, Maria's Pizza, Santorini Greek Kitchen. All independent, and all within a few blocks of each other.

    Well-run independent restaurants CAN make it in Indianapolis. Go to Fountain Square for lunch, and you'll see people who choose these places because the food is great, the prices reasonable, and the service above average. Sure it's a little shabbier than Carmel or Broadripple, but that's part of its charm. Other neighborhoods too - East 10th Street and Irvington - have great local dining choices. As Donna pointed out, there are great independent and independent ethnic restaurants all over the city. Seek these restaurants and neighborhoods out - it is worth the minimal extra effort.
  • Chefo, it is funny how this blog can start with one subject and freely warp into other subjects. I find that interesting and enjoyable. Maybe that is why Cory won Gold at this years Alliance of Area Business Publication' summer conference June 17 in Minneapolis for best staff-generated blog. There seems to be a large number of us who read this blog and IBJ in general everyday. Kudos to all at IBJ. They certainly make my day more informative and interesting.
  • I'm willing to bet that a complete inventory of restaurants inside 465 would show dramatically more independents and small local chains than large chains. Because large chains are most often located on major streets with high visibility, people drive past them all the time and it feels like they dominate everything.
  • Never got to Cafe Nora, unfortunately. My mother-in-law went there once when she was in from the east coast and she said it was good but seemed overpriced. My bigger worry is about Nora as a whole; there are a lot of empty store fronts up there, and still more retail is being built. When the Kroger is finished there will be three groceries within a block, one of them will end up going down.

    About the Carmel debate: it's fine up there, I would certainly live in that Avriel Schull (sp. ?) neighborhood just west of the arts district. Also, some of the smartest, most thoughtful, and worldly people that I've ever known have come from Carmel. However, I don't understand why people seem to believe why a bunch of subdivisions plopped down in a corn field is posh. My wife and I joke that they should change the name of the town to Carmel By The Corn.
  • I expect Whole Foods to move to another location once the economy improves. I think Marsh will probably stay put. Nora Plaza has done a good job at keeping it fresh looking and not letting it fall a part........unlike a lot of strip centers around the metro area.
  • So anyone else have a recession based restaurant deathwatch list?
    My three based on pure gut instinct:
    Acopoco Joes,
    Adobo Grill,
    and possibly a few more before we get through this.
    Along with Hobby Lobby, a department store chain and a locally owned specialty clothing store.
    They may all be favorites, but if the numbers don’t work, they aren’t waiting for you to show up.
  • Morton's really? I think it has a fair amount of regulars. Adobo is wonderful, I'd hate to see it leave.
  • I've talked to the waiters/bartenders at Adobo and they run a pretty full service Thurs-Sat (particularly Thurs for the margarita special). It can be slow the rest of the week but I don't get the impression that they're operating at a loss or anything. Go there Mondays for the $2.50 pints of beer! Easy seats at the bar.

    And as long as I'm on the topic, I hear that they're one regulatory hurdle (about two weeks) and construction (two more weeks) away from having sidewalk seating. Just in time for summer to be over! They expect to be able to squeeze in four or five tables on their small strip of sidewalk.
  • I LOVE Adobo!!! Please go and eat there people. You won't be sorry.
  • Oh please let Acopoco Joes be next to go. It should have been gone 20 years ago!
  • Acupulco Joe's is a true urban pioneer. Joe's and Shapiro's were downtown feeding people before anyone else was down there.
  • You thought that there was no good ethnic food in Indy Donna? Have you checked out We think are tons of good ethnic places (Guatelinda, Abyssinia, Saigon, Sakura, Kabob Korner, Thai Orchid, Bosphorus, Saffron Cafe, and Santorini's to name a few).
  • Hopefully Alcapulco Joe's won't be closing. I remember when they used to have a line down the STREET at lunchtime. (70's) Joe was living, the food was good and the place was a riot. My last experience there wasn't necessarily the greatest but driving past it certainly brings back memories.
  • Shapiro's wasn't a just stuck around when a large number of people still lived downtown.
  • Thanks color me free!
  • CorrND-

    Adobo runs pretty full Th-SA they tell you, huh? and TH is for a special?
    Ditto that probably for a lot more shops.

    See what I mean when I'm saying weekday/night business downtown is risky? If you don't make rent in a day or two, in general, YOU ARE LOSING MONEY.

    I'm not faulting any of the fine folks down there pumping it out everyday, but damn! C'mon Indy! Let's live a little!
  • Any newcomers that wish to embark down this road need to keep in mind a few things:

    Cost of goods 30-40%
    Labor 20-30%
    Rent 5- 10%
    Utilities 2- 5%
    FICA/Unemployment 2 - 4%
    Advertising 0 - 1%

    Misc (Supplies, Linen Service, Maintainance, Professional Fees - (Atty,CPA's) Bank Service Charges 5 - 10%

    Take the upper end of these figures and you'll understand why restaurant people smoke & drink so much...
  • Most full service restuarants get a majority of their buisness Thursday thru Saturday........that's the nature of their business. This isn't something that is strictly a down town phenomenon.
  • That's partially correct. But then, following that assumption should an owner just be open TH - SA?
  • There is generally a large lunch crowd through the week downtown. There are plenty of restuarants downtown that have been there for obviously they're making money during the week otherwise they wouldn't be open. St. Elmo's, Palomino, Ruth's Chris, Hard Rock, Spagetti Factory, ect.
  • Barley Island is moving into the old Scholars Inn Bakery in BR, and Arthur Murray dance studio is moving into the old chinese lady's likker store @ 62nd and keystone.

    the 62nd/BR Ave project is looking better each week. Can you say continuous sidewalks!?
  • The Spicy Pickle location in castleton is being taken over by YUKI a sushi bar.
  • Anyone have any more info about Barley Island moving to BR?
  • July I saw the new sign for Barley Island in the old SI location but no date to open yet.

    BTW the new CVS on 16th Meridian street seems to be coming along nicely.
  • Acupulco Joe’s just opened on the Southside in a permanent locale -- I don't think they're heading anwhere but in the black, baby!
  • Yes. They are moving into BR @ old Scholars Inn. Look above. again. Do you want me to turn it into a poem? What other info do you need? :lol:
  • It was sad to see an independent restaurant close. I prefer to support them over the chains. We only ate at Cafe Nora a few times but enjoyed the atmosphere and our meals were good. A independent that's worth the drive is Kelties in Westfield. Indianapolis Monthly writes about them frequently, especially their Sunday brunch. We really like the atmosphere and the food is always better than expected. Like a lot of chef owned restaurants I don't think they are open every night.
  • I was very sad to hear of Ruth's Cafe closing as it was one of our fav's on a Saturday morning. The service was WONDERFUL and the food just as great. My family and I will truly miss Ruth's.
  • I am a resident of Nora and have been for 9yrs…I moved here specifically because at the time I didnt have a car and I needed somewhere close to everything…now am sad to see that so much is being uprooted (literally look at all the tree’s they took out for isnt there a grocery store across the street??)
    all for Krogers and Target…I used to love that I could go rent a movie drop off my laundry grab a bite at Nora Cafe or BK, and mail off care packages to my sister at the post office..all of this is gone to krogers and target…I am sick of the dumbing down and generic crap that is being offered to us….I like target…but i dont want to live in target town which is what we might as well call nora…lets hope my ace and habigs stays in place… I love smith and hawkins but again sometimes we feel guilty for having money and those that dont make money want us to come down to their level…sorry I dont always want mcdonalds to go with my cheap ass target jeans…I like good food and I dont care if they are pretentious or not??? who cares just eat your damn food and shut up..wait no go to mcdonalds…your better off…besides you wont feel bad if you cant fit into your target jeans cuz they were only 30bucks right???

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  1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

  2. As other states are realizing the harm in jailing offenders of marijuana...Indiana steps backwards into the script of Reefer Madness. guys voted for your Gov...up to you to vote him out. Signed, Citizen of Florida...the next state to have medical marijuana.

  3. It's empowering for this niche community to know that they have an advocate on their side in case things go awry.

  4. Apparently the settlement over Angie's List "bundling" charges hasn't stopped the practice! My membership is up for renewal, and I'm on my third email trying to get a "basic" membership rather than the "bundled" version they're trying to charge me for. Frustrating!!

  5. a vendor to both of these builders I guess I have the right to comment. Davis closed his doors with integrity.He paid me every penny he owed me. Estridge,STILL owes me thousands and thousands of dollars. The last few years of my life have been spent working 2 jobs, paying off the suppliers I used to work on Estridge jobs and just struggling to survive. Shame on you Paul...and shame on you IBJ! Maybe you should have contacted the hundreds of vendors that Paul stiffed. I'm sure your "rises from the ashes" spin on reporting would have contained true stories of real people who have struggled to find work and pay of their debts (something that Paul didn't even attempt to do).