Zing, L'ex and Eddie Merlot

August 8, 2008
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Zing IndianapolisA couple of restaurant updates today:
  • Workers are adding a wraparound balcony to Zing, a new small-plate restaurant in the old Payton’s Place at 543 Indiana Ave. Restaurateurs Mark Jacobs and John Perazzo hope to open by late August. Over the years, the building has been a barber shop, grocery stores and restaurants. Most recently it was Payton’s Place in early 2000s.

  • Chef Neal Brown definitely plans to move his L’explorateur restaurant downtown and has hired a local firm to design it, but he's still zeroing in on sites. He remains keen on 111 S. Meridian St., the former home of Brenner Luggage, but another site also has entered the fray. He's shooting to open in the first half of 2009 and has hired Sequences Space Design to plan the space.

  • Upscale restaurant chain Eddie Merlot’s plans to add 12 locations throughout the U.S. within the next 24 months. Owner Bill Humphries founded the chain in Fort Wayne in 2001 and expanded to Indianapolis in 2003. New locations in Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, opened this spring. And new stores are coming to Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Denver, Co., Minnetonka, Minn., and Northbrook, Ill. in the next year. The chain is negotiating for 8 additional locations throughout the U.S.

    • I'm very exited about L'explorateur moving downtown!
    • Zing: And yet another beautiful historic building is trailer-parked, a la The Distillery. The face-mounted railing is especially classy.

      I really like the 111 S. Meridian space. I kept hoping a friend would open her bookstore there (with cafe, please). I'll take a restaurant, though. Parking might be problematic for those not living downtown.
    • While I understand the Zing owners' interest in providing outdoor seating, this is atrocious! I worked at IUPUI for many years in the nearby Mary Cable Building and always fantasized about living or working in that building. The addition of the wrap-around balcony blocks the most interesting architectural details. Who approved this?
    • Opinions of design are completely subjective, I know, but I have to say that I think that this balcony is dog ugly, and it's a shame. Oh well, it's Indianapolis, Incredibly Always New!.
    • By the way, if you'd like to check out more photos, check out Dig-B.
    • Regarding the Zing restaurant, it looks like something they'd have in Wrigleyville, which i quite like! It'll just add to the vibe of the NW Quad of downtown i hope. :)
    • ARGH!!! After looking at the new photos, it's even worse. I half envision revelers tossing Mardi Gras beads off the balcony. Erich, while I respect your opinion, comparing it to Wrigleyville is an insult to that neighborhood.
    • I'm usually one who runs around claiming that buildings are *always* more beautiful under construction than finished. This Zing balcony, however, may be the exception.

      I think it looks pretty bad now: too stark, too silver-ey compared to the limestone detailing (will the underside of the decking be painted?) and too high-waisted, i.e. the columns are too spindly for the bulkiness of the balcony platform above. But once the top is filled with tables, chairs, and happy patrons, and hopefully the arcade has some hanging flowers (to help with that high-waisted feeling), plus some street furniture (benches) underneath from where to enjoy the shade on the sidewalk below, I think it could all look welcoming, in a basic urban vitality kinda way.
    • 1) I'm happy that this building is being reused in some way or other. It will be a welcome addition to the canal district, and I'm looking forward to possibly moving to the area after finishing my architecture degree in May
      2) I question the need for a wrap-around balcony, especially when it faces a street as loud and often congested as West/MLK Street(s). What's the angle here? I can't say I have too much interest eating outside when I have to fight traffic to have a conversation.
      3) The balcony is absolutely hideous. A little bit of capital-D DESIGN would have cleared this problem up from the beginning.

      Anyway you slice it, this is a good thing to happen to that building (minus the addition of the balcony). I hope this restaraunt is as successful as I think it could be.
    • I don't know why, but this balcony just screams no permits to me. I hope I'm wrong. If I knew the address, I'd check.
    • Nevermind my last comment. It's legit.... Metes and Bounds Legal / 1260 SF Deck and Dormer Additions per Regional Center Approval: 2007APP172 / CBD-2 / Center Twp
    • I find it interesting that people always comment after the fact on developments. The Zing building was on the market for several months if not years. If people want a specific design or look for a building, why don't you pony up the funds to develop it yourself. Put some skin in the game before complaining about designs. It's like not voting and complaining about the administration after the election.
    • If not playing, I couldn't have said it better myself. I have to warn you, you will now be labeled as a mean ugly developer by some on this board.
    • Blah blah blah. I like whatever anybody does, and nobody else should comment on it... If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Do you guys really want to sound just like my mom.

      At this point, I'd say it looks ugly, and I doubt there's really going to be much demand to sit out there, especially on the West side.

      Cory, does the City's website just need to be updated? It indicates exterior plans to be submitted later...

      Case number 2007APP172
      PetitionType APPROVAL
      Disposition AP
      Final Decision Date 2007-12-20 00:00:00.0
      Petitioner Name Walter Wolf & Andi Metzel
      Comments Approval for use as an office and restaurant only, at this time. Exterior improvement plan to be submitted.
      Staff Recommendation AP
      Entry Date 2007-10-31 00:00:00.0
      Staff Planner JYORK
      MDC Date
      APV Type RC
      Conditions Y
      Zoning I3U RC
      HOV Date
      HE Date
      BZA Date
      Exp Date
      Address 543 INDIANA AVE
      Board N

    • idyllic -- I'm pretty sure there were 5 or 6 permits on a door on the back side of the building the last time I checked, and one of them was for the exterior patio work.

      The majority of the seating (at least 2/3rds) is along Indiana, so I wouldn't worry about demand for sitting along West. This gives you a pretty good idea of the Indiana side:


      I think it looks pretty decent. I don't know if people are basing their opinion on the single picture here or the idea of attaching a balcony to an old building, but I suggest you go see it in person. It's not that bad. My only beef is that the metal isn't painted black. I think a wrought-iron look would have been a lot better.
    • I just want to say that even though I agree that the wrap-around balcony is pretty ugly and doesn't work as well with the building as the one at Bourbon Street, at least it is something that isn't going to ruin the historic integrity and value of the building and could easily be removed in the future.
    • CorrND - I agree. I don't think it would look that bad if it did have a more wrought iron look to it. I love upper balconies like that if they look good. It's a great old building and I'm glad someone is using it.
    • If not playing and Big Daddy,

      It's ridiculous to assert that people have no right to critique what they don't have the means to produce.

      Is that what you say to someone when they don't like a movie? Why don't you just pony up the funds and make your own film?

      or Why don't you just pony up your own funds and start your own restaurant, when they don't like a meal they've been served?

      The fact that some here get defensive about bad architecture is astounding. You're defending something that's done poorly! WTF!

      -cues rolling stones song-
    • I think the point that If not playing and Big Daddy are trying to make is that EVERYONE here complains about EVERYTHING. It is really getting to a point that I dread even visiting here, even though I love being kept up to date on the developments in Indy.

      If all of you are so negative about how things are, then how about you work to change it? You don't have to pony up money to sate your frustrated design aesthetic, but you can go to meetings and complain in a forum that doesn't guarantee your anonymity. Maybe you already do this, I don't know. But there is a process in place where these decisions are made, and believe it or not, I doubt the City is sitting there saying How can we make Indy uglier and annoy people at the Property Lines blog? Frankly, sitting back and complaining about something that as already been lawfully vetted (BW3, regardless) just reflects more on the complainers than it does on the developers. Plus, it's your opinion that it is poor design. Something tells me that the owners of Zing would disagree...is their opinion not valid, too?
    • That balcony is really ugly. It could be worse and it doesn't ruin the historic charm of that fine structure. I agree with many people on here who wish to see it painted black. Maybe add some nice iron work or something but its current look doesn't go with the historical character of the structure or neighborhood at all. It shouldn't be totally over budget to paint it black.
    • Nick: I for one often feel like I'm one of few people in this city who desire it to be more progressive, more forward-thinking, bolder, etc., especially in its built environment.

      I know this isn't truly the case - if it was, I wouldn't have any clients - but it's nice to come here and see that there are people who agree with me.

      Design appreciation IS something that can be taught - maybe the posts here will open some eyes and make people think a little harder about their environment and demand more of the space in which they live their lives. Do you really want to just accept the world as is and never even consider alternatives?
    • I'll reserve judgment on the zing thing until such time as it is complete. Something as simple as paint might totally transform the impression that photo leaves.

      I'm very excited about L'Explorateur (the city's best restaurant) moving downtown. While Indy might indeed by Chain City USA, downtown would feature L'Ex, R Bistro, and Elements, all top notch restaurants, with other locally owned stalwarts like Patachou, Scholar's Inn, and Yats to provide additional quality local alternatives.

      Twill be interesting to see the L'Ex design. I've yet to see one truly stunning restaurant design in Indianapolis, and with the move from Broad Ripple to downtown, L'Ex will have the right setting to potentially do something absolutely stunning with the decor to match the stunningly great food - if they've got the bankroll to pull it off.
    • It looks like this balcony has a somewhat open floor. Is that going to remain? I don't think there's a whole lot of foot traffic here right now, but it sure would suck to have to walk under this and get a beer spilled on you. It really doesn't look like there is room to walk on the outside of the balcony.
    • Unfortunately the steel outside had to be galvanized to prevent it from rusting.Again unfortunately it can't be painted for 1 year for this reason. People should look inside as well and see how gorgeous it is.It was designed by Julie O'Brien, award.winning designer
      Aren't there other businesses with railings? Buggs Temple?
      Indianapolis has to be kinder to independent business people
    • I haven't seen the inside yet but I did see this sticking out of their door yesterday:

    • are backhoes illegal in Indianapolis as well?
      did the person taking the picture realize that the restaurant was adding a brick oven pizza oven?
      does anyone realize that builkding was empty for 4 years,
      that the city did not get any tax money from that building, that the building's roof was about to collapse?.
    • Woah infodoug, simmer! I just thought the picture was funny!

      1. I don't think backhoes are illegal.
      2. I'm the one that took the picture.
      3. I did NOT know they were adding a brick pizza oven (good to know).
      4. I did know that it was empty for 4 years and I'm damn glad someone is doing such a thorough job rehabbing the building.
      5. I did not know that the roof was about to collapse, though I'm betting that's at least a slight exaggeration since they only tore off and raised a small portion of the roof (and the exposed portion didn't even look that bad):


    • i think it is fantastic that some people put their money to renovate the building.Indianapolis has to be more aggressive in seeking new businesses. this will help the tax burden as well as enable the mayor tp keep our streets safe and our schools open
    • i feel that this is a great addition to the neighborhood. there is always going to be negative with change. these same people will eventually enjoy the offerings of this new restaurant. the design is questionable on the exterior but look what they were working with. these seem to be honest and successful business people adding great value to an under developed area. they are using private money and risking alot for this venture i assume. lets support and praise them for their efforts. i think they are more than open to visitors and the chance to take a look around the interior. out.
    • Infodoug, just wondering what factors you would cite to say that Indy is not agressively seeking new businesses, and what more you would ask that the City do.

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