Coming changes keep downtown a dining hub: Au Bon Pain coming to Circle, Noble Roman's returns

September 26, 2005

Downtown is still sizzling for national restaurants looking to expand, based on recent deals.

Au Bon Pain is cooking up a 2,200-square-foot Monument Circle store, taking over a recently closed Roly Poly Sandwiches shop and the Hardwickes Pipe & Tobacco that has entertained passersby for decades with its caricature statues.

The Boston-based chain's arrival in early 2006 will mark one of several dining changes near the Circle and one of the final steps in a tenant retooling of the Guaranty Building.

Elsewhere, sandwich chain Jimmy John's has signed a lease for the former Bad Ass Coffee Co. shop in the King Cole building at Washington and Meridian streets, and Noble Roman's Inc. is planning to open a co-branded Noble Roman's Pizza and Tuscano's Italian Subs location on West Market Street near the Statehouse.

A nightclub is seeking to take over Nicky Blaine's old haunt in the King Cole building, and several tenants are said to be eyeing a first-floor restaurant space in Simon Property Group Inc.'s headquarters, now under construction at Washington Street and Capitol Avenue.

Au Bon Pain's planned Guaranty Building location would be the chain's third in the city. The other two are at 901 Indiana Ave., near IUPUI, and at Indianapolis International Airport.

Mansur Real Estate Services Inc., which leases and manages the Guaranty Building for local Guaranty Holdings Co. LLP, is working with Hardwickes to find a new downtown location, said Mansur Leasing Manager Dave Buchanan. The store is expected to close late this year or early in 2006.

Hardwickes' managers declined to comment.

When Au Bon Pain ("bon pain" is French for "good bread") moves in next spring, it will have entrances on both Meridian Street and Monument Circle. The restaurant, which offers bakery items, sandwiches and soups, plans to locate its bakery in the former Roly Poly space and the café in the Hardwicke's space, said Mark Perlstein, a principal of locally based Linder Co. who represented Au Bon Pain in the deal.

"I think anybody who's been looking [at restaurant space] has looked at the southwest quadrant [of the Circle]," Perlstein said. "It probably has the most foot traffic. It has great visibility and a great view to the monument itself."

The Au Bon Pain deal represents a resurrection of sorts for the Guaranty Building. Including pending leases, occupancy stands at about 95 percent, up from less than 40 percent when Mansur took over leasing 10 months ago.

The Guaranty Building, along with Circle Tower to the northeast, offers some of the only ground-level retail spaces on the Circle, noted Mansur President Chuck Cagann.

Just south of the Guaranty Building at the corner of Meridian and Washington streets, Porter-based Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches franchisee Finner and Finner has signed a lease to occupy 1,500 square feet in the prime corner position of the King Cole building. Bad Ass closed a short-lived coffee shop in that location early this year. Principal Todd Finner said his company is negotiating to purchase the Jimmy John's franchise at 15 N. Pennsylvania St., a block away.

Also in the King Cole building, a group of local businessmen is working on financing for a nightclub in the basement, occupied until last fall by Nicky Blaine's Martini and Cigar Bar. Nicky Blaine's moved to larger digs in the basement of the Guaranty Building last December.

The as-yet-unnamed nightclub has received approval for a permit to serve alcohol, but is still working on financing and other leasing details, said partner Nick Patel.

To the west of the Circle, a nearly 2,600-square-foot Noble Roman's/Tuscano's is slated to open at 135 W. Market St. later this fall, said Noble Roman's President Scott Mobley.

The store will be modeled after prototypes open in Zionsville and Fishers, Mobley said. The locally based company now has about 100 co-branded locations open nationwide, Mobley said.

Looking further into 2006, Simon is rumored to be close to signing a tenant for the first floor of its 315,000-square-foot headquarters building across the street from the Statehouse. Restaurants said to be eyeing the space include Colorado-based Paradise Bakery and Café, which has a local store at Simon's Clay Terrace shopping center in north Carmel; locally based Café Patachou; and Seattle-based Starbucks.

"There's continually a nice selection of restaurant concepts looking to do something downtown," said Brian Epstein, a principal of locally based Urban Space Commercial Properties. "There's more demand than quality locations."
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