Fountain Square restaurant, wine shop closing due to staffing issues

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The Wine Market moved into a building on Shelby Street in Fountain Square that was previously home to Pioneer, an Italian restaurant. (IBJ photo/Lesley Weidenbener)

Wine Market & Table, a restaurant and shop which began its six-year run in Fountain Square as The Wine Market, is closing due to staffing issues.

Owners Kris Bowers and Zachary Davis announced the closure on Monday on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

“As you can imagine, this is a difficult decision for us to make,” Bowers and Davis wrote. “In recent months, staffing, particularly in the kitchen, has been extremely challenging and we do not see that changing anytime soon. The constant up and down of that has taken its toll, on us, our front of house staff, and especially on our regular guests.”

Bowers and Davis opened The Wine Market in 2017 at 1031 Virginia Ave. The business was both a restaurant and a shop where customers could buy wine by the bottle, with a focus on smaller winemakers and bottles priced at $20 or less.

In 2021, the owners moved the business to the former Pioneer building at 1110 Shelby St., a much larger space that would allow the business to expand its food and drink menu.

The Pioneer building, which previously operated as an Italian restaurant and a performance space and event venue, contains 12,500 square feet of space over two stories and a basement.

Located at the key commercial intersection of Prospect, Shelby and Virginia streets, the property also offers a dedicated parking lot and outdoor patio.

Bowers and Davis purchased the building from its previous owner, Bryce Caldwell, in June 2021, for $1.82 million, according to county assessor records.

Between the real estate purchase and renovations to the building, Bowers and Davis told IBJ in 2021 that they invested between $2 million and $2.5 million in the project.

Bowers and Davis opened a second location of The Wine Market in Irvington in 2018, but that location fell victim to the pandemic and closed in 2020.

Wine Market & Table will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday for carryout wine sales, according to the Facebook posting.

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11 thoughts on “Fountain Square restaurant, wine shop closing due to staffing issues

    1. Economics tells us that if there is a “shortage” of workers at the wage the employer is paying, then the employer needs to raise wages until they attract enough workforce willing to work.

    2. Chris B., the restaurant business is different from most in that employees are not guaranteed a 40-hour work week and their earnings are a combination of hourly wages (below the state minimum) and tips. In essence, for them it is a “gig” economy where cooks, wait staff, bartenders, etc. go from place to place seeking a better deal in terms of hours, wages, and tips. This fluid environment is one reason why about 60% of restaurants fail in their first year of operation, and 80% fail within 5 years of opening.

    3. Brent, then maybe Indiana should raise the minimum wage of restaurant workers to match the State minimum wage. Isn’t it something like $2.50/hr currently? Dishwashers in California are working full-time, getting health care benefits, and making over $21/hr. It more than makes up for COL differences. I have a friend who’s a waitress at a steakhouse here who averages $120K/year. Is there any restaurant in Indiana where that’s even possible? Restaurants will raise prices or add surcharges, but they’d likely benefit long-term. Price hikes don’t stop most people who regularly eat out from doing so either.

    4. $120K per year at a steak house in Indiana. Not possible. Not even in downtown Indy. I do agree that state minimum wage for a serve needs to go up. It’s been $2.50 since before I could read.

    5. Wesley, the Indiana minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, the same as the federal minimum wage. However, “tipped” employees are exempt from the minimum wage. In Washington state, when the minimum wage was increased to $15 per hour, many restaurants were forced to close down, while others banned tipping. Higher-end restaurants can afford to pay more (while employees still benefit from tips).

      Jaron, there are many wait staff employees at higher end restaurants in Indianapolis who earn in excess of $100,000 a year from both wages and tips. It’s why a tab for two can easily exceed $300 or more.

    6. Jaron, you should go ask the servers at St. Elmo. I bet no one there makes UNDER six figures.

    7. Jaron, let us know when you actually learn to read, as opposed to responding to comments you like. The good news is, you can move in with Wes and go make $120K waiting tables

  1. “Staffing Issues” LOL. I guess the Covid! excuse has been played too many times this month. Odd how Kuma, Upland, and The Dugout, just to name a few, are fine, but “staffing” closed the doors here.
    They had a bad business plan. As pointed out above, the previous location was probably a better fit. The current location is WAY too big for wine and charcuterie dishes. I have been there multiple times at prime time with 20 customers max. The market rejected their product

    1. I have to agree with Chuck on this one. Have been several times and everything from the food to service to parking was just MEH. Always hate to see a small business fold but sometimes it is a positive retrospection for the entrepreneurs.