A building on Main Street in Zionsville that local lore says has housed a tavern or restaurant continuously since the 1880s has a new owner who promises to keep the streak alive.
Eric Bretzman, an engineer for Chip Ganassi Racing, closed March 1 on the purchase of 40 S. Main and negotiated a new long-term lease with il Villagio, an Italian restaurant that has operated in the 4,000-square-foot building for 10 years.
Emilio Cento, the owner of the restaurant, wasn't available for comment, but Bretzman and the broker who sold the building, Ross Reller of Colliers International, said Cento had been on a month-to-month lease because the building wasn't being maintained.
Cento's success with the restaurant in the face of deferred maintenance that sometimes had him paying for repairs out of his own pocket played a role in the decision by Bretzman and his wife to buy the building, which is their first commercial property.
"He's survived the 'infant mortality rate' of restaurants," Bretzman said of Cento, who he's betting will be a solid tenant.
Il Villagio is closed—but not for long—while the building gets a new roof and new mechanical systems. Cento said he wanted to be able to serve Easter brunch, and Bretzman has promised the building will be able to accommodate diners again by March 26.
The building housed Adam's Rib & Seafood house immediately before Cento took over the space.
Reller listed the building for its out-of-town owner in the fourth quarter of last year for $385,000. He said the listing price was firm, with no allowance for the building's deteriorated condition. He's not surprised it sold, primarily because of the location.
"To be on the bricks and have a little piece of the village" is a big deal in Zionsville, Reller said, referring to the cobblestone street that runs through the heart of the town's business district.
Bretzman sees a big potential upside for rents, which he said are running at the low end of a range between $15 and $24 a square foot. He thinks an improving economy will give a lift to what is already a desirable location.
Tammy Kelly, who manages the commercial division for ReMAX Ability Plus, agrees with Bretzman's assessment.
She just leased 1,700 square feet to Inga's Gourmet Popcorn, which will open this summer at 140 S. Main.
Kelly has two other listings in the neighborhood:
—The 14,000-square-foot Carter Building, at 91 S. Main, which is listed for $2 million. Built in 2006 by the late Robert Carter to house his toy museum, the building has off-street parking, custom oak finishings, high ceilings and a one-bedroom apartment. Kelly said it would make a great live-work space.
—A former flower shop at 305 S. Main. The 2,023-square-foot building is listed for $375,000. It's for sale or lease.