The Indianapolis location of Dagwood’s Deli & Sub Shop, which opened in 2016 near the IUPUI campus, is closing.
In an email to customers Wednesday morning, owner John DeVries said the deli’s last day of operation will be Tuesday, though it may close earlier if stock runs out.
The IUPUI location at 923 Indiana Ave. is independent of Dagwood’s original location in Bloomington, which opened in 1985 and is owned by John Santos. That location will remain open.
Dagwood’s is a popular fixture in Bloomington, with its meaty sandwiches at reasonable prices winning numerous popularity awards from local and regional publications.
DeVries told IBJ he became a Dagwood’s fan when he was a student at Indiana University, and he reached an agreement with Santos to open the IUPUI store.
The original plan, DeVries said, was for the IUPUI location to be the first of multiple locations in the Indianapolis market. But the local restaurant did not succeed as DeVries had hoped and sales never grew to the point that the operation could cover rent for the 2,200-square-foot space.
“The rent here is really high, and the space is a little bit bigger than what we really needed for the service we provide,” he said.
DeVries said harsh winter weather a few seasons ago reduced customer traffic to Dagwoods, which led to a cash-flow crunch. In response, he decided to cut back on his marketing spending. “I thought the customers would come back,” he said.
But traffic never really rebounded, DeVries said.
“Ultimately, it’s not the product that failed here,” he said. “It was probably more of my fault of not making a wise choice at that time to really push through with my marketing.”
DeVries said he still thinks Dagwood’s could succeed in this market. Though he has no current plans to try again as a solo operator, he said he’s open to partnering with someone to open a new shop in a different location.