Although Tanya Davis closed her Vegas Lounge & Bar after one year of business on Broad Ripple Avenue, she expresses confidence about the concept finding long-term success in a historic downtown building.
Davis plans to open a new version of Vegas Lounge & Bar on the first floor of the Morrison Opera Place building, 47-49 S. Meridian St., where a Hard Rock Cafe served customers from 1999 to 2019.
The former Hard Rock site is twice the size of the spot where the Vegas bar operated from June 2022 to May 2023 at 723 Broad Ripple Ave. The difference between 8,000 square feet and 3,500 is a main driver of Davis’ optimism.
“We outgrew the spot drastically within the first few months,” Davis said of the Broad Ripple location.
She also cited violence in the popular bar district and street construction as factors that worked against a longer stay in a building where One Up Arcade was open from November 2018 to July 2020.
Itamar Cohen, who purchased the four-story Morrison Opera Place building in February, confirmed that Davis signed a 10-year lease to open Vegas Lounge & Bar downtown.
Pending the approval of a place-to-place transfer of her beer, wine and liquor license Monday by the Alcoholic Beverage Board of Marion County, Davis said she would like to open in time for a New Year’s Eve event.
Davis said she invested about $300,000 in renovations for the Broad Ripple version of the Vegas concept and that the business generated enough income for her to break even.
In September, Davis opened Ice Bar and Lounge, 9105 E. 56th St., with her sister, Quita Savage, as a 6,000-square-foot food-and-beverage spot in the Fort Benjamin Harrison area of Lawrence.
Davis, who is the sole owner of Vegas Lounge & Bar, said she’s eager to do business in a prominent location where international chain Hard Rock had a two-decade run.
“I’m not intimidated,” she said of the challenge. “I can only get well wishes and make sure my establishment is the best it can be.”
Davis said customers should expect to be impressed by upscale decor and fusion cuisine at Vegas Lounge & Bar.
She plans to employ about 30 people, with as many as 10 devoted to security.
“We’re downtown and we have a lot of visitors from around the country,” Davis said. “I don’t want anyone who visits my establishment to get harmed. I don’t want anyone walking by to get harmed.”
Building owner Cohen said a New York-based co-working company plans to take over the former Kenzie Academy tech school location on an upper floor of the Morrison Opera Place building.
According to public records, the building was constructed by Indianapolis businessman William H. Morrison after a fire destroyed the Morrison Opera Block on Jan. 17, 1870. Its second owner was M. O’Connor & Co. Wholesale Grocers, which occupied it from 1886 until 1924. From then until 1977, the Colonial Furniture Co. and its successor People’s Outfitting Co. occupied it.
It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.