Dunaway’s restaurant building up for auction

June 19, 2014
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The downtown building that’s housed Dunaway’s restaurant for more than 15 years is on the auction block, which could signal the end for the upscale eatery.

Dunaways 225pxDunaways
                              225pxJeff Dunaway, who opened the restaurant in 1998, is accepting bids—starting at $800,000—on the building at 351 S. East St. until July 8.

Dunaway did not return phone calls to IBJ seeking comment. But his listing agent, Bill French of Cassidy Turley, said Dunaway had quietly marketed the building to restaurateurs the past few years without attracting a suitable offer.

“We decided that since we have had activity, this is a good way to accelerate the marketing,” French said of the auction process.

French’s colleague at Cassidy Turley, Ray Simons, is coordinating the auction.

The 11,700-square-foot building sits at the northeast corner of the intersection where East and South streets meet Virginia Avenue. It wasn’t always there, though.

The Indiana Oxygen Co. built it in 1930 a few blocks away on South Delaware Street to house its office and factory. The company manufactured bottled oxygen and hydrogen there until neighboring Eli Lilly and Co. bought the building in 1991, according to Dunaway’s website.

Lilly donated it to the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, which moved the building to its current location to avoid demolition. It’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Dunaway, a local restaurateur and former owner of St. Elmo’s Steak House, purchased the property in 1998 and opened Dunaway’s, the restaurant’s website says.

“He’s an industry veteran; he’s been there for a lot of years,” French said of Dunaway. “I think he has other plans going forward.”

The restaurant remains open for now. Entrees, ranging in price from $30 to $46, include prime rib, filet mignon and New York strip steak, as well as sea scallops, North Atlantic salmon and lobster ravioli.

  • Correction
    The article about Dunaway's refers to the owner as Tom Dunaway. The owner is Jeff Dunaway.
  • Won't be missed
    This restaurant used to be one of my favorites in the early 2000's but then fell of the radar. It became way overpriced, the quality dropped, and the service got much worse. It's too bad because it had so much potential but they quit trying to keep improving and rested on their early success. Won't be missed....
  • Oops!
    I thought Dunaways closed years ago. Isn't there an immigrant welcome center or something like that there now?
    • Facade Design
      Next time you're by this building be sure to look for the Indiana limestone "Indiana Oxygen tanks" worked into the facade. So classy, you'll hardly notice they're there. Cool old building.
    • Off The Beaten Path
      I was also a little cloudy as to whether Dunaway's was still open. And that says it all. The place was (oops--IS!) just too far off the beaten path to be that close to downtown. And yes, its overpriced for the quality of the offerings, service, and experience. Uh, Bob, unless Scott got in there and corrected Dunaway's first name in the time between your post and mine, it DOES say 'Jeff'.
    • @Balthazar
      I'm not sure that location has anything to do with it. After all Bluebeard and Cerulean are just a couple of blocks seem to do just fine. I'd say that it had more to do with charging like a 5 star restaurant and delivering food and service like a 1 or 2 star restaurant. Hopefully someone will take the building over and bring it back to life.
      • WAIT...
        ...You mean Dunaway's has been open for the past 10 years?!?!?!?? What type of business were they running. Sorry, I will have to agree with Matt. Unless this place was a private hall for say...LILLY execs, how many really knew this place was operating? Not once has this place looked open as I drive by weekly. It seems Dunaway's never escaped the 90's IMO. What a great opportunity for a distillery. JOURNEYMAN?
      • Hard when you're isolated
        Food quality and service had dropped over the years (while the prices had not), but their location is a bit of an unusual island. Bluebeard and Cerulean have other activity around them so people are always coming and going. That's not the case for Dunaways. It was a destination restaurant and as its quality declined it simply was no longer worth the trip.
      • Not so much
        Perhaps you're thinking of the Mexican Consulate north of the Oxygen Building though that's not an "immigrant welcome center" either.
      • Always there...
        The Mexican consulate uses it during the daytime for photo ID cards, etc. A great atmosphere and they always supported community events, especially with prominent Colts players'/coaches' causes (i.e. Lymphoma/Leukemia event during ChuckStrong season). Very cool old bar on main floor. Almost feels like they quit trying in an incredibly competitive environment.
      • Satisfied
        I have only been there a couple times but was pleased on both occasions. Food, wine and the service was good. I guess I hit nights they were hitting it right. It is a cool old building and hope someone takes it over. If the owner has had it the past 15 years and he sold St Elmo's to start I am thinking its boredom and wants a new challenge.

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