Las Vegas concept that exited Broad Ripple plans to take over former Hard Rock Cafe location

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Morrison Opera
The Morrison Opera Place building, 47-49 S. Meridian St., was home to a Hard Rock Cafe from 1999 to 2019. (IBJ photo/Dave Lindquist)

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.

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25 thoughts on “Las Vegas concept that exited Broad Ripple plans to take over former Hard Rock Cafe location

  1. “I don’t want anyone who visits my establishment to get harmed. I don’t want anyone walking by to get harmed.”

    I’m sure Davis’ statement was sincerely expressed. But, in order to live up to that statement, she might want to reconsider a couple of small things: the name of the business, the business model, the concept, the design, the clients, the management, the marketing, …

    1. Totally agree. Interesting how their tenure in Broad Ripple coincided with the uptick in violence in that district.

  2. It’s so nice to finally have a restaurant on that corner. Such a prominent location and a beautiful building. Hopefully soon a restaurant will open where Rock Bottom was located. It was nice to have outdoor dining at that location. Currently such a void along Washington Street.

    1. Nothing to do with mayor here. If not mistaken, column describes free market at work. I didn’t read where mayor Joe contacted building owner and subsidized 10 year rental agreement to a bar with a vegas theme. Smh

    2. I mean, virtually every vacant business referenced in this article (and the chit-chat below) had a solid tenant before Hogsett started his illustrious role leading the state’s largest city through the lens of the bottom of a bourbon bottle.

      Not saying all of those closures were Hogsett’s fault. And I was no fan of the schlub Ballard. But Ballard was like another Hudnut, or even a Fiorello LaGuardia, when positioned next to Hogsett.

      Hogsett can’t be blamed for the COVID-19 lockdown idiocy–the social pressure was more powerful than the Commander-in-Chief at that time, and it even seemed legitimate for the first few weeks. But Hogsett was more than happy to prolong it at a point when the rest of Indiana was fully reopened. And his championing of riots, his weak-willed response to criminality (abetted by the “root causes” imbecile Mears), the fact that the city seems dirty for the first time…all has helped lay City Market to waste. It was stronger than it had even been in my life during Ballard. And City Market is just the start. Woo hoo, a new Starbucks opened. How many have closed?

      Hard Rock Café was a hip thing in the late 80s and 90s. Remember how people used to collect shirts of all the cities? Now it’s international chain past its prime, probably making more money from casinos than restaurants. But it was a reliable DT Indy tenant for many years that did NOT have the reputation of attracting thuggery.

      The Reddit chatter says it all. After one embarrassing failure, why ARE people still lending Ms. Davis the money to repeat it? She may be a nice person and her desire not to see anyone “harmed” is probably truthful, but she’s already cooked up a recipe for criminality once. It’s sad that a prime corner in a beautiful historic building is probably more desperate for a tenant than a nondescript Broad Ripple strip.

    3. Lauren B. “The Reddit chatter says it all” Did you really site Reddit as your source, LOL!
      Well, by all means, if it’s on Reddit, we should all believe it. Hysterical!

  3. A 3AM shoot out bar? Wouldn’t that be a Republican party bar with patrons exercising their 2nd Amendment rights as enhanced by Indiana law allowing pretty much anyone to walk around armed???

    1. Truly remarkable how, despite the Republican party being armed to the teeth, at least 90% of all violence takes place in Democrat-run jurisdictions…even in places like Chicago where it is difficult (nearly impossible) to acquire a gun lawfully.

      Partisan clowns like Tim will never address this, but, then, that’s what makes them partisan clowns.

      This was a problem property in Broad Ripple; it would be delusional to think it will somehow bring a higher caliber of clientele in DT Indy. At least one of the many long-vacant downtown spots is getting a tenant.

      Prediction: violence within the first month, a homicide within the first three months, compounding homicides within the first year, followed by another closure….all while helping yank a few more nearby businesses away from downtown along with it.

      The Hogsett claque makes being cynical so easy. They get excited when a smoke shop opens.

    2. I don’t think she’s had any problems with her location on East 56th Street that she opened.

  4. I feel downtown Indy is still really reliant on three things: Colts/Pacers/Indians games, larger events happening at the stadiums/WRSP/Murat, and conventions. Whereas Broad Ripple’s strength is more locals going out for the weekend, particularly locals in the area.

    There’s no right or wrong way to run a business, but I just think the change in location to a larger venue isn’t a guarantee for success.

    1. Downtown also benefits from 30,000 residents living there. They are both young professionals and retired boomers with money to spend.

  5. The comments are hilarious but at the same time it’s clear there’s a disconnect with some of you. Indy wants to be considered as a city and when people visit here they should leave with that impression as well, that they just visited a major US city. Mrs Davis could have taken her idea to ATL, Miami, Cincinnati, Louisville, Chicago ect but she chose to bring her concept to her hometown. She can’t be held accountable for how others conduct themselves but how she manage her establishment. Visitors have said it a thousand times that Indy doesn’t give much as far as entertainment. After attending a convention or sporting event, there needs to be more to do than just go out to eat. If Vegas, a city built in the middle of the desert could establish itself, then surely a city in the middle of the Midwest not far from sprawling cornfields couldn’t do the same.

    1. Why would Ms. Davis have taken her idea to those other cities? She already runs multiple other businesses in Indy. In her defense, at least some of those businesses seem competently managed. But a Vegas-knockoff that became a criminal hotbed for Broad Ripple in just one year…why would we expect to repeat the formula downtown and somehow think it would draw folks from Carmel?

      And what sort of convention folks are going to go to a place like this? We get firefighters, FFA, and GenCon. Organizations who want Vegas chintz for their trade shows will go to Vegas, or Biloxi, or–if they don’t have enough money–Atlantic City. There might be a few questions you should answer yourself before you accuse other people of “disconnect”.

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