Fried chicken franchises, Argentine eatery call it quits

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A fast-food fixture and an upstart downtown eatery have closed in Indianapolis, leaving a void for both a traditional Hoosier staple and an ethnic rarity.

Five Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits restaurants operated by local franchisee Will Pace have shut down, said Alicia Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based chain.

Meanwhile, it appears Argentine restaurant Taste of Tango has closed on East Washington Street after being in business only about 18 months.

Thompson said the Popeyes closed within the past week. Closed locations include 4920 W. 38th St.; 2402 E. 38th St.; 6707 W. Washington St.; and 6012 E. 46th St. Thompson did not know the address for the other location.

She said company policy prohibited her from commenting on the cause of the closures. But the chain would like to reopen in the city under a new franchisee, she said.

“We’re committed to the market and are looking to reopen in the future,” Thompson said.

A Popeye's location operated by another franchisee in Whitestown remains open.

Popeye’s is likely to bounce back locally, said Steve Delaney, a principal at the Indianapolis-based Sitehawk Retail Real Estate brokerage.

“I’m guessing the local franchisee had an operational problem rather than a location problem,” he said. “It’s a good product. Corporate probably will come back and reopen.”

Popeyes was founded in New Orleans in 1972 and became part of AFC Enterprises in 1992. AFC, traded on the NASDAQ exchange, has no other holdings.

Louisville-based KFC Corp. has a much larger presence in the Indianapolis area, boasting 37 stores. Overall, KFC has 5,200 restaurants in the United States compared to 1,500 for Popeye’s.

Taste of Tango, opened by owner Fabrico Perez in February 2009, was located in the first block of East Washington Street a few doors from Dunkin’ Donuts. A for-lease banner was hung from the building on Thursday advertising the space at $12 per square foot.

The location is too far away from the Indiana Convention Center to attract much business from visitors, Delaney said. But the area has been rejuvenated by nearby restaurants such as Scotty’s Brewhouse, Fogo de Chao, Adobo Grill and Buffalo Wild Wings.

“I think long-term, it’s becoming a good restaurant location,” Delaney said of the block.

What could make the former Taste of Tango space appealing is that its current liquor license is included in the lease. Delaney said downtown licenses typically cost about $40,000, in addition to an annual renewal fee.

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