Litigious Aristocrat owner seeks parking variance after opposing one for Calle 52

May 8, 2012
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Calle 52 IndianapolisThe owner of the Aristocrat Pub & Restaurant at 52nd Street and College Avenue took his fight against a parking variance for the proposed Calle 52 restaurant across the street all the way to the Indiana Supreme Court, and lost. The court declined on May 3 to hear a challenge to Marion County Superior Court and Indiana Court of Appeals decisions in favor of the city's Board of Zoning Appeals. Aristocrat owner Rick Rising-Moore sued the BZA in November 2010 over its decision a month earlier to approve a parking plan for Calle 52 that provided for 21 on-site spaces, fewer than the 56 required under code. The developers won approval after submitting a valet plan using off-site spaces and making adjustments to the site plan to ease parking concerns.

In an ironic twist, Rising-Moore is now seeking a parking variance of his own as he rebuilds his restaurant after a fire in August. His own establishment was operating outside the zoning codes he pushed the BZA to enforce against Calle 52. A few of the variances Rising-Moore is seeking from the BZA would allow for: deficient parking for his restaurant operation; landscaping in the right of way; outdoor seating; indoor live entertainment within 100 feet of a protected district; an existing freestanding sign; and a replacement awning and canopy. In his suit against the BZA, he had argued additional cars for Calle 52 would hurt his business and others in the area, and create a public safety hazard. Rising-Moore did not return a phone message Tuesday morning.

Meantime, Rising-Moore is not giving up his fight against Calle 52. He's suing the Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission over its approval of a liquor license for the Latin restaurant, which would take over a long-vacant former Movie Gallery store. If the case doesn't go his way, the developers of Calle 52 expect he will again appeal all the way to the Indiana Supreme Court. The owners of Calle 52 are Nicole Harlan-Oprisu and Tim Oprisu (who also own Old Pro’s Table), Bill and Nancy Ficca and Jamie Browning (the Ficcas and Browning also own Usual Suspects in Broad Ripple). Browning said the group is not giving up and that the building owner, Bill Stoops, is willing to wait to ensure the best use for the property. The plans call for 133 indoor seats and 32 seats on a patio, and a menu featuring ceviche, queso fundido, carne asada and pastel tres leche. An earlier blog post (with 99 comments at last check) is here.

  • Wow
    First of all, I like...D the Aristorat. However, the owner is really turning me off. A lot of people in the Midtown area do select businesses which they support both the restaurant itself and the owner. Take YATs for example. The owner is friendly, personable and completely reasonable. Perhaps after the fire he should have simply replaced everything in kind and there would be no problem. I think the BZA should decline his requests and require him to reduce his seating or build a parking garage instead.
  • Boycott of Aristocrat
    I've enjoyed Aristocrat in the past, but ever since Rising-Moore has taken on the role of tyrant, and now hypocrite, I have boycotted the Aristocrat, and encouraged others I know to do the same.
  • Wow...
    ...this guy sounds like a real winner! Afraid of competition, are we? Best of luck to the owners of Calle 52 and may Rising-Moore grow up to be a real man some day.
  • It's true
    The phrase "what goes around, comes around" has never been more true.
  • huh?
    karma sometimes burns.
  • Great Establishment
    The Aristocrat very well be the reason why the area has stayed so vibrant. The food has always been excellent and I am missing the brunch. I look forward to when they re open. The Aristocrat has been in business over 30 years. I don't think you last that long unless you provide a value to community. I also don't think you last that long by not following the laws of the city. Even a 30 year veteran has to follow the same laws as everyone else. The one thing I know about Mr. Rising-moore is he does not cheat or lie. I cannot say the same about others in the area.
  • Throw in the towel already
    The Aristocrat used to a nice place with good food; then it got old and tired. The owner should focus on rebuilding and making it a place people want to go to again instead of worrying about the competition. If he does this right he should't have to worry about other restaurants in the area.
  • Perplexing Behavior
    Has Rising-Moore ever offered any rationale for his campaign to prevent SO-BRO from getting another locally owned and operated restaurant?

    I don't understand how healthy competition could "hurt his business" as indicated in the story, unless his restaurant has poor quality food and service.

    One would think a small business owner would understand how free-market capitalism works and welcome more consumer choice, more exposure to the area, and an increased customer base from which he could also earn new patrons.
    • Never Again
      I vowed never to return to the Aristocrat after the owner's behavior toward the neighboring establishment. And now this?

      It's called community BUILDING. I can't wait to frequent Calle 52.
    • Good business ethic
      I used to like the Aristocrat, but price/quality has never been its forte. It is unsurprising therefore that the current owner would rather spend money in legal fees than in improving the quality of the food and offerings. The setting in the neighborhood is unique and he should be mindful that there are not that many good offerings around save Taste, Patachou, and a few others in similar price range. He should capitalize on this. I for one plan to attend any meetings concerning zoning variances and support Calle 52 in any way possible.
    • Not About Competition
      Josh, It was never about competition. I hung out at the bar so I have the inside scoop. The building next to the old movie gallery is owned by Mr. Rising-Moore. That building is now worth less than half because of the parking issue. The retail space below has no parking and neither does the residential above. So it was never about the restaurant competition it was about the value of that building.
      • Thanks
        Anthony, thanks for adding some context. Part of the issue on that corner, as the link to the old story explains, is customers of businesses in the building Rising-Moore owns next to the Calle 52 site had been using parking spaces in front of the vacant video-rental store without paying. Also, customers had to drive onto the video-store lot to access parking spaces next to Rising-Moore's building. Rising-Moore basically is arguing that he should be allowed to continue using property he does not own for his customer parking.
      • Bad Business
        Aristocrat hasnt been relevent for years, the food quality slipped, service was bitchy and sucked, atmosphere tired. I agree with the comments so far - business begets business not the opposite. I will spend my money at OPT and Usual Suspects from this point forward.
        A fancy new Aristocrat is not enough to get me to spend my money in a morrally bankrupt, hypocrites business.
        Rick, you obvioulsy dont give a crap about the development of our neighborhood, why should we give a crap about you?
      • Perplexing Rationale
        Ah, now I get it. It's an "everybody needs to suffer like me" situation. Heaven knows I've parked in the vacant Movie Gallery lot in order to patronize Rising-Moore's business and tenant's businesses.

        By developing the vacant lot to suit it's needs, Calle 52 will eliminate Rising-Moore's overflow parking (which, in truth, has served as his own private parking lot for years).

        Makes sense to me now. I have chosen to drive to Glendale or Nora instead of fighting the traffic and lack of parking in this area. I still think it's spiteful and wrong to throw up roadblocks for Calle 52, but I see why Rising-Moore would do it.
      • ARISTOCRAP!!!
        I couldn't agree more with the other comments - having another locally owned restaurant in SO-BRO is great for the huge majority of residents. It really angers me that Rising-Moore fought Calle 52. I would rather eat PB&J than spend a dime at the Aristocrat.
      • Aristocrat Parking, Outdoor Seating and Garden Established First and Before Creation of City Codes
        The Aristocrat had permits, but not variances. The Aristocrat parking, outdoor seating and garden were established at least 25 years ago - when there were a total four outdoor cafes in the entire city and before there were any codes.

        The city issued the permits for everything and did not look to see if variances needed approval before issuing the permits. Since then, the city has found some of the original paper work. So we trust this will get straightened out.

        These issues are being exploited by a few new businesses that seem to have the same political connections. The city often has not been following their own ordinances nor followed state law on the granting of variances and liquor licenses to new businesses. These issues led to Rick's lawsuits.

        Many of the new businesses have been asking for a high number of variances. Calle 52 originally asked for two parking spaces for a 165 seat restaurant, then they increased this to maybe 21 yet there is no evidence of where would these parking spaces be.

        In the last ten years, the neighborhood has had a parking shortage develop due to the granting of 670 parking space variances to new businesses. We the area residents have to struggle to drive through there and find parking. Something has to be done to stop the madness.

        I hope Rick wins. And, yes the food, service, and atmosphere have been excellent.
      • Greed
        Greed is alive and well at the Aristocrat. I've got mine and I want more even if I have to step on others to keep and get it. The rules are for eveyone. Lots of OTHER "really good " places to eat .
      • I Beg Your Pardon
        Did I miss something? Did the Aristocrat add a bunch of parking that I'm not aware of? As I recall they have parking for about 8 cars on their property yet he wants to see that no one else has access to the same market for reasons he can't resolve for himself. You'll forgive me for thinking this has become a "do as I say, not as I do" issue. Thanks for being part of the neighborhood for 30 years, but welcome to the new millenium. If you want more parking in the area, build some. Otherwise, don't get bent every time someone wants to open a business in the area. We appreciate options!
      • What I am thankful for...
        1.) I am thankful that Rick Rising-Moore operated a wonderful restaurant with a really terrific garden burger even if he had not complied with all of the confusing zoning laws that he was supposed to while he was originally open before his fire.
        2.) I am thankful that Rick was able to smell smoke and hear alarms while next door to his building that apparently his tenants had not. By all reports he valiantly awoke and saved his tenants!
        3.) I am thankful that even while Rick was spearheading the movement to prevent another restaurant from opening across the street from his establishment, his ardent supporters and attorneys never flinched when it became public that RRM had not had a chance to comply with the zoning restrictions he was so doggedly defending across the way.
        5.) I am thankful that now that RRM is rebuilding his space, he is apparently looking to comply with all appropriate zoning laws he previously did not have a chance to.
        5.) Finally, I am thankful that RRM had the courage to fight this case all the way to the Indiana Supreme Court, and as a taxpayer and concerned citizen, I am quite disappointed that they chose not to hear the case. What could be more pressing than this???

        I am thankful that Rick Rising-Moore is a leader in our community, and you should be too.
      • May never go back
        My wife and I live just down the road and used to enjoy walking over there and sitting out on the patio, but we have boycotted the Aristocrat since he started fighting with Calle 52 and given the owner's behavior may never go back even once Calle opens. I certainly hope they judge his variance request by the same standards he wanted them to use for Calle.
      • I love the Aristocrat
        The Aristocrat has been rocking that corner for 30 years! They will rebuild and be better than ever. Long live the Aristocrat!!
      • love to take my grandkids to the Aristocrat
        My daughter lives in the neighborhood and its always been a special treat for us to be able to take her family there from the time they were infants. Being able to consume great, gourmet food with little ones along is a special treat. The kids are older now, but the Aristocrat will always be my favorite place to take the family.
      • Sad
        We live just a few blocks from the Aristocrat. I loved going there for brunch and any time we could sit out on the patio. However, I've really been turned off by the owner's actions. His views do NOT mirror the majority of the neighborhood and quite frankly, he's ticking a lot of people off. My husband and I decided we would rather take our business elsewhere and will continue to do so.
      • Calle 52 Hypocrites
        It's too bad that this is making Rizing-Moore seem like the devil and making the Calle 52 owners look like angels. While Nicole Harlan-Oprisu and Tim Oprisu were going through all of this, they managed to find time to be at EVERY Kilroy's hearing, opposing the parking variances, liquor license, etc. You would think they would be on the same side going through this themselves. But it all comes down to business owners doing whatever they can to prevent any competition instead of improving their own business.
      • NEVER Again
        I will never, ever, ever eat at the Aristocrat again... haven't since this whole thing started. It's funny, because I used to eat there once a month, at least.
      • The Great Defender of Zoning Laws
        Sorry, but the comments from Mike are so ridiculous that they border on surreal. Essentially it sounds like he's saying RRM was so busy fighting to defend the existing "confusing" zoning laws he "had not had a chance to comply" with them himself? Sometimes I wonder if some people can hear themselves talking.
      • Kilroys
        The owners of Calle 52 opposed Kilroys going in next door to Old Pro's Table! Cory, where is your story on that subject? So much for fair and balanced journalism. This pathetic article is one sided. I can't believe you didn't even mention the Clark building or the other 10 establishments on the corner that stand united with Rising-Moore.
        • Let's stick to facts
          As I reread this story, it occurs to me that the point of it is that Rising-Moore has been suing for years now for zoning restrictions that he himself had not bothered to comply with. As a matter of fact, it appears that his vehemence was so great that he tried to take his matter to the State Supreme Court!?! Does that not smack of hypocrisy and an abuse of the system? Did the OPT owners reject the findings of the alcohol and zoning boards and mount years of suits as a result of their not liking the results of the Kilroy's proceeding?
          Seriously, if you are pursuing "fair and balanced", do yourself a favor and reread the article. As a matter of fact, go to then to the website and read the subject matter of the opinions of the issues that are elevated to the state supreme court. You will find that the last 4 opinions posted concerned matters such as : murder, child support, environmental insurance dispute , and issues surrounding benefits for the poor. I wonder if Rising-Moore truly believes that his issue is at that level.

          Further, a little research will show you that the BRVA initially opposed the Kilroy's project for the same reason that many people were opposed. It is a wildly held belief that Broad Ripple needs fewer bars offering extreme drink specials, and they need more parking and safety support. There is also no evidence that I have been made aware of that the OPt people (or any other bar owners or that matter) pursued the case any further as it appears that construction is progressing at that spot. If you contrast that with the support of the MKNA for the Calle project and Rick's dogged (and surely $$$) pursuits, doesn't he simply come across as petty?

          Rick was using someone else's parking lot. He is not happy that he can't use it anymore. Nor is he happy that his tenants in the property he owns south of the proposed Calle site will no longer be able to park in someone else's lot. If Taste or the SoBro cafe tried to o into that space instead of where they went, you best believe that he would have fought that too.
        • Let's be gracious in the end
          Anthony, et al., Maybe Mr.Rising-Moore will evolve if some charity is shown in his direction. One of the arguments bemoaned by RRM and re-articulated by yourself (presumably he opined his concerns directly to you as you quaffed one at his beautiful, but dusty old bar in the Aristocrat) is that the limitations to his parking adjacent to the Clark building reduce the commercial value of this building by half. In fact, there is no basis to support this statement It is merely his assumption. As it is, the Clark seems reasonably occupied now (his tenants did not flee). Perhaps, City Dog WILL vacate their space when the lease is up - but there is no real reason to believe that the value of this building has been so diminished. In fact, some tenants - both residential and commercial - may find added value as a result of the increased traffic and services created by an establishment such as Calle 52 and Mr. Rising-Moore's beliefs may be proven completely wrong. It would be wonderful if Mr.Rising-Moore could be convinced that there are positives to the increased commercial density that will be created by the use of this building. It would be great if he could see that no longer having a blighted and empty commercial building next to his beautifully maintained Clark building will ADD value to his property. Time will tell. While I for one never enjoyed eating at the Aristocrat, I hope it will continue to flourish and serve the folks who cherish it. Vitriol and misguided righteousness are detrimental to all of us who live and patronize the businesses in this area. While I have not agreed with RRM position on this AT ALL, it is worth mentioning as well, that some people were concerned not with the parking per se but the lack of parking coupled with the increased access to alcohol on College Avenue. Their worries were a result of a concern that this highly traveled artery with a large percentage of bicyclists and pedestrians were at increased risk with the addition of alcohol and increased parking and driving in the adjacent neighborhood by people drinking it. If nothing else, Mr. RRM's protests gave these people the opportunity to voice their concerns regarding this issue as well.
        • access to alcohol? really?
          "...that some people were concerned not with the parking per se but the lack of parking coupled with the increased access to alcohol on College Avenue..." REALLY? RRM had just installed new taps at the Aristocrat a week before the fire, 20Tap is making money hand over fist NIGHTLY, and M&J's is forever packed. If the people that live in Mid-Bro really cared about communal alcohol consumption they would live there. I stopped going to the Aristocrat because of consistently horrible service, a menu that was WAY too big and not very good, and the subject of the above article. I won't have a reason to go back, ever.
        • lot of talk ,,no action
          tired of looking at it and tired of hearing about it. get your place open already. Improve your menu and your reputation by taking the time to do t right. Quit worrying about the other guy. PS. RRM-- neighbors don't appreciate the construction trailers being parked on residential streets

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        1. I am so impressed that the smoking ban FAILED in Kokomo! I might just move to your Awesome city!

        2. way to much breweries being built in indianapolis. its going to be saturated market, if not already. when is enough, enough??

        3. This house is a reminder of Hamilton County history. Its position near the interstate is significant to remember what Hamilton County was before the SUPERBROKERs, Navients, commercial parks, sprawling vinyl villages, and acres of concrete retail showed up. What's truly Wasteful is not reusing a structure that could still be useful. History isn't confined to parks and books.

        4. To compare Connor Prairie or the Zoo to a random old house is a big ridiculous. If it were any where near the level of significance there wouldn't be a major funding gap. Put a big billboard on I-69 funded by the tourism board for people to come visit this old house, and I doubt there would be any takers, since other than age there is no significance whatsoever. Clearly the tax payers of Fishers don't have a significant interest in this project, so PLEASE DON'T USE OUR VALUABLE MONEY. Government money is finite and needs to be utilized for the most efficient and productive purposes. This is far from that.

        5. I only tried it 2x and didn't think much of it both times. With the new apts plus a couple other of new developments on Guilford, I am surprised it didn't get more business. Plus you have a couple of subdivisions across the street from it. I hope Upland can keep it going. Good beer and food plus a neat environment and outdoor seating.