Buggs Temple doesn't stay empty for long

November 7, 2013
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It appears the historic Buggs Temple won’t stay unoccupied for long, after tenants Creation Cafe and Euphoria Events abruptly closed their doors Tuesday.

Buggs Temple 225pxOne of the city’s largest caterers, Thomas Caterers of Distinction Inc., has agreed to lease both levels while it pursues a purchase of the two-story building, owner Kelly Early said Wednesday.

“Our plan is to gut it out and just make it an open event space so people can come in and do whatever they want,” she said. “Hopefully, not too much needs to be done.”

Early’s mother, Susan Thomas-Crannell, founded Thomas Caterers in 1984. With $4.7 million in revenue last year, the company has grown to become the city’s third-largest caterer, trailing only Kahn’s Catering and Ritz Charles, according to IBJ statistics.

Thomas Caterers’ kitchen and offices are located at 4440 N. Keystone Ave. It operates an events facility, D’amore, on the top floor of Chase Tower, and has the food contract at the Scottish Rite Cathedral.

With the Buggs Temple, Early is shooting for a studio-warehouse look to give clients an option that falls between the gothic-style Scottish Rite and the modern-looking Chase space.

Early hopes to open in the spring.

“The fact that it has outside event space and is along the [Central] Canal makes it a wonderful events facility,” she said.

A representative of the building’s owner said that the five-year lease for Creation Cafe and Euphoria Events expired Oct. 20, and the two sides were too far apart in negotiating a new agreement.

Creation Cafe co-owners Lynn Shepherd and Amy Hornsby posted a note on the restaurant’s website, indicating they are searching for a new location to reopen the restaurant.

Buggs Temple, built in 1918 at 337 W. 11th St., underwent a $3.5 million renovation that dragged from late 2003 to 2007. When the building reopened, the downstairs eatery was known as the Grille at Buggs Temple and the upstairs restaurant was called Tavern at the Temple. Creation Cafe and Euphoria replaced those tenants in 2009.

  • Waste
    What a waste of an awesome building. I'll be sending an email of displeasure to this catering company and making sure that others who may use them know about this. You go from having a vibrant business bringing foot traffic, dogs, and other mini events around the head of the canal (even on a weekend and Sunday morning). IUPUI schools used this facility a lot for smaller alumni groups (doubt they'll be able to afford the renting of the facility now). Guess we will only see swarms of people occasionally now. This is a loss for the Canal District and downtown (and dog lovers). Hope CC can find a great location elsewhere. Parking was never that bad. Hell, there was an entire parking lot with meters just past those houses under the monorail about 25 spots, plus all the on street parking.
    • Mike, Agree.
      Agree with Mike here. The canal has grossly been mismanaged by having the development near it be strictly private for the most part. We need more public facilities with space that will attract cafes, shops, restaurants, etc. The eyesore of apartments should have never been allowed and it will be a great day when some of them are demolished for better development. The canal should have more of a feel similar to the river walk in San Antonio.
    • Dogs
      Mike you seem very concerned about how this business change will affect Indianapolis Dogs. Are Thomas Caterers notorious Anti-Dog people and I didn't know it? ;)
    • Another Event Meeting Place NOT Needed
      The Indianapolis Metro area has more than enough stand alone "locations" to hold meetings and events. They are so numerous and plenty in number, I have no idea how so many of them stay afloat with the small pool of users within the area. They are going to GUT the building? After the $3.5 million dollars in renovations that had previously occured? I just hate to see this building vacant and unused more of the time than not. If you are going to have events in the building, think about the possibility of having a daily destination restaurant. The building is wasted on passive use. Creation Cafe was an OUTSTANDING hub of canal activity. Let's have something of that caliber take its place.
    • New Life
      It's a shame that the canal doesn't have more restaurants in the first place and also that Creation Cafe was not able to negotiate a contract to stay, but as a fan of Thomas Catering and former bride in need of a great venue I am thrilled to see new life in this space! I have no doubt that Thomas will do great things in this building.
    • Out of touch with reality
      I agree with the premise that we would all "like" to see the canal be this beautiful place that caters school events for a very good price, but that is not possible. The costs for the real estate went up to a point that the restaurants that we're in there were unable to come to terms. Higher building value is a direct result of all of the development (mostly residential) on the canal. Now a successful business is offering to pay this higher price for a building that could very easily have remained empty instead and put a business in that will generate additional revenue for the city and the canal district. How is that a bad thing? How will that effect your ability to walk your dog? I still think the canal is beautiful and the city has done a great job. Be careful what you ask for though because San Antonio River Walk is mostly bars and restaurants and night life...are you sure you want that here in Indianapolis? I for one, do. I wish they would open up more bars/restaurants/shops so that it is more of a destination vs. a place to walk dogs...
    • Confused
      Why is this the catering company's fault? They needed space and this space was unexpectedly available. Not sure why they are bad guys. If you want to be mad, be mad at the owners of the building and the owners of Creation for not being able to come to agreement. Thomas is just renting an empty building.
    • Please maintain a restaurant!
      Nooo!!!! This neighborhood doesn't need this incredible building to sit empty on a daily basis. Thomas Caterers, please consider what a restaurant on the main level could add to you business!
    • AGREED!
      It's so disappointing to read that it will be an event space. This was the perfect location for a restaurant. Let's face it, the food at Creation Cafe was just not good enough to draw people in. There will now be no reason to visit that end of the canal... very sad. It's amazing that retail space has failed on the canal with the relatively large number of residents in the area. Hopefully we will see a turn around someday. All of my out-of-town friends are shocked when they visit the canal... we need to do a better job of utilizing this space.
    • ^ I Agree.
      Though a sad turn of events, the reality is that places I frequented, are now gone. Thomas has a very unique opportunity to take a beautiful space with an even more gorgeous location and do something magical. Consider a mid-range decor event space AND indoor/outdoor cafe and restaurant for the daily populace. Embrace the neighborhood and the existing culture of the building to keep people interested in coming around the north tip of the canal. An exclusively private facility would KILL the area, trust me. Parking is a negligible issue....people downtown are used to meters.
    • Gutting this space?
      I, too, am very concerned that a go-to location with great views of water downtown will just be a limited-access event space in the future. I have very fond memories of lunches in the summer, though service was sometimes spotty -- and then there was the fabulous IUPUI Regatta for the last 4 years, with music, crowds, plein air painting, canoe races -- gathered around the Café. But, maybe it is too soon to tell -- it's a fabulous location; I do hope that Thomas uses this space consciously to draw more people to this jewel.
    • agree with most
      I agree with most of the posts here. It was nice to see activity at the end of the canal both from a eating perspective and events (such as Humane Society). I'm also of the mindset that this space will be dead much more often than not and now will only be used by those whom are part of the private event. This building and location are too cool to not be enjoyed by the masses! If Creation Cafe reopens somewhere else though, they do need to address their below-average service issues!
    • Sad loss for downtown
      Downtown Indianapolis has such a dearth of outdoor dining that isn't right on top of a busy street. Now we've lost the best outdoor-dining restaurant to some banquet hall that I'll maybe go to once every 10 years.
    • Farewell Creation Cafe
      Loved this place. Perfect place for a lazy meal in the summer and I thought the food was quite good. May Thomas WILL put in a café as well. I know the folks at IU Med will be sad.
    • Sad news
      So sad this will no longer be a restaurant. Very disappointing. We stopped there frequently during our bike rides. It was a destination....even if the food wasn't great. It will be way too quiet on that end of the canal and the rare times when there is activity, most of us won't be invited....
      • Creation Cafe was great for the Canal
        I will miss the Creation Cafe and it's fun atmosphere, good food, great desserts, and tasty craft beer selections. They were pet friendly and a built a niche business after several failed attempts by Chuck Mack, the building owner that just booted them out. Thomas has an opportunity to keep the building relevant in the Canal District. Hopefully the city will have input on what actually goes into the renovation.
      • City Needs to Step IN!!
        It was my understanding that this building was purchased by John Bales and Co. (venture) for $1 from the city to renovate the historic building with very specific terms regarding the restroom facilities in the basement must be left open for public use during normal operating hours and that the building had to house a specific type of retail business. This business doesn't seem like it would fit the city's terms that were intially set. It sounds like some journalistic research is in order on this deal given the players and the history of this space. The public who uses the canal looses a great resource for a catering company, really?. So sad.
      • Exciting News
        Thomas Caterers are a wonderful company, extremely helpful, and overall great people. Should be a great use of the building for people wanting to hold events downtown. It was very cluttered in the building before, hopefully it will be a little bit more open now!
      • terrible choice of tenant
        My family including our dogs loved the restaurant that was in this building. We will miss the unique decor that wasn't cookie cutter like every other venue in Indy. Will we still be able to use restrooms when we walk our dogs on canal? Noticed other post and realized what a convenience that is for those who run/walk canal.
      • please dont go!!!
        Please bring the restaurant back!!! My husband just shared this article with me. The city doesn't need another "event" venue. There are more than is needed now. Worst business move possible on building owners part. A brewery would have been awesome! My girlfriends and I will thoroughly miss creation cafe for girls night out.
      • BAd
        That's way too bad. What a waste of a great space.
      • What a shame
        What a shame that this space will be completely private. I agree with an above poster, some journalistic research needs to be done to see if this is even allowed!!
      • Ruh roh, Scooby
        Wow, I read three themes.... dogs, mediocre food, and poor service. Sorry folks, if Creation Cafe couldn't make it, why would you expect someone else to come in and start (another) money-losing restaurant. Flame away! PS. If there's journalistic investigation, perhaps ask the Creation Cafe owners why they scheduled holiday parties and wedding receptions, knowing they were selling and closing.
        • The "Fix" was already In
          I agree with Dan. Some investigation needs to be done to make sure this deal is on the up and up especially in regards to the requirements set forth by the city for the purchase. Perhaps one of the reasons that the landlord and Creation Cafe could not come to terms is that Thomas Catering already had the inside track and comes out as the new tenant two days after Creation Cafe closes? The fix WAS in!
        • To Cat Lover
          If the problems are dogs, mediocre food, and poor service, then clearly Creation's failure has nothing to do with location. It would have failed anywhere. (And, if they're legit about their claim to relocate rather than close altogether, then they hadn't really failed.) A good restaurant could easily overcome the location's challenges, with even a little bit of ingenuity. A bland, inconspicuous location hasn't stopped people from flocking to Maxine's Chicken and Waffles. Real shame to get another events space in such a pretty location, but this isn't causing the canal's lack of oomph--it's an effect. The canal simply isn't that vital of a space, regardless of what some here would say. Yes, it would be much better off if it had even a fraction of the energy of San Antonio's Riverwalk. It doesn't.
        • Investigation
          Can IBJ please do an investigation into this instead of printing a glorified press release???
        • So sorry about this
          Well, Creation Cafe was the meeting room for many IUPUI groups. I loved it and it was my favorite place to go for a lunch meeting. The owners were two talented and hard working professionals who worked very hard to make a profitable business. They finally did and now they had to leave the business. The close of Creation Cafe is a very sad story to the history of Indianapolis Canal.
        • It's Better Than An Empty Building
          Mike, I don't get your irrational outrage over a successful company saving a building from sitting empty on the canal. Why do you think an event space is worse than cafe that apparently wasn't that successful? Also, do you honestly think that businesses care about emails when they are making a determination about where to lease space. Even if they got 100 emails expressing dismay abouy their decision to lease out the building, it would have no effect on their plans since they only care about the many people who will gladly rent out the space for weddings, company dinners, etc. So, why should they care even if 10,000 other people object so long as they provide their targeted customer base with something they will pay for. With all the far more pressing issues going on in the city, it would seem your energy and passion coul be directed elsewhere toward things you might actually have an impact on.
          • Not better
            While I am sure there may have been some things Creation Cafe could have done differently, it was normally always packed throughout the summer, and it brought a vibrancy to that end of the canal. Yes, of course, it is better that it not sit empty. However, it appears the lease was terminated or they weren't willing to negotiate due to the fact that it was already in the process of being rented/purchased by Thomas. There is no reason another full service restaurant could not have gone in there and flourished. Now it will just be used on an as needed/rental exclusive basis, which does nothing to meet the need of someone casually using the canal.
          • Oh No - Not another 'event space!'
            We have become way too saturated with event spaces. One after another sprout up - the Landmark Center (Old Centrum Church) and soon to be gutted Morris-Butler House just recently. Every museum, zoo, or whatever is vying for the same dollars. Wait until the next dip in the economy and watch what happens. And where will they find parking for any large events if there wasn't enough for the restaurant's customers. This is a major mistake - good thing Thomas has deep pockets - they'll need them.
            • Creation Cafe
              Am I the only one who thought that restaurant was absolutely atrocious? I mean, seriously, the service was bad at best and the food was just so-so. Moreover, everyone I ever talked to about it never really went there for the same exact reason. I just find it hard to believe that no one in these comments has mentioned how bad of a dining experience that place was.
              • Sold...
                It all comes down to the lease/sale negotiations. The restaurant couldn't or wouldn't pay/buy, and Thomas did. I would imagine that if the building sold, the previous covenants expired with the sale.
              • Are you people for real?
                For those who complain that this building will sit empty a large amount of the time, look at what John Mavris has done with a similar space on South East St., which is frequently booked. Every time we drive by there's something going on in it. The success and/or failure of an event space depends largely on the sales and staff of said place. Thomas has a good track record, and I expect they'll do just fine. I don't remember Bales being involved in the first renovation of the building but I remember Chuck Mack of Moe & Johnny's being part of the team though, and if memory serves, that effort ended in bankruptcy. One wonders whether those renovations were done in a way that properly maximized the use of the property. Finally, I'm amazed at the folks who act like this is a crime of some sort. The landlord has a right to charge what he wants, and if the tenant doesn't want to pay it, they can find somewhere else to lease. I remember the same bizarre kinds of comments over Yats' old Mass Ave location. That's just business.
              • Creation
                BP: thank you! I completely agree - the food wasn't very good and the service was bad.
              • Get the facts straight
                BR GUY, I don't know why you made this up but the Morris-Butler House isn't being gutted. It's been painted inside and out and new carpet is currently being installed on the first level. Also the broken and uneven brick sidewalks around the home have now been paved, making it much safer and ADA accessible. I think that's far from being gutted. Also, the Landmark Center is used for a lot of programming and special events both public and private. There is even an art gallery and a resource library inside making the Landmark Center much more than just event space.
              • Landlords were going bankrupt!
                I just learned today from a banking friend at BMO Harris that Venture Real Estate Group is actually on the verge of losing the building (Buggs Temple) as it was sold to a private equity group on the east coast as part of a large loan portfolio sale. He said the Venture Real Estate group with John Bales and Greg Rankin were in a "non-performing" status with the loan. I think there is a lot more to come from this story. Corey Schouten from the IBJ has done an excellent job trackign the inside real estate jobs that Bales and Company were federally indicted on by the US government. It sounds like this might reopen the story for Corey! He also said the owners of the restaurant were simply willing to pay the outrageous rent increase to renew the lease and that it had nothing to do with the business failing. It was a landlord issue from day one.
              • Nasty
                My sister was a prep cook at creation cafe and said the basement of the building floods constantly with raw sewage because of poor construction and landlords unwillingness to fix issue. She claims the board of health should know about the problem. I can't imagine Thomas will stay long when there cooks have to stand in S*&t water while preparing wedding cake and food!
              • Why Does Indy Always Have to Take Away Cool Things?
                This really sux!! I loved to take my pups on a walk on the canal and also be able to take them to Creation Cafe and have them eat w/ us. I'm sure the almighty GREED played a part in all of this! No one cares about renting out another place. I give the whole "event" idea about a year until that idea goes under.
              • mismanaged, overpriced
                absolutely. but how are you going to tell a rich girl - lynn, the fmr. chairman of cummins engine co.'s daughter - that the restaurant, in a word, sucks. the partners watched too many foodie shows and credit card ads featuring "restaurant owners." they were always right...all the way to the closing. STILL awaiting the "new location."

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