A local restaurant supply company plans to build a new warehouse downtown on Senate Avenue to replace a building that will be demolished as part of Indiana University Health’s massive expansion of its Methodist Hospital campus in coming years.
Zesco Restaurant Supply plans to spend about $2 million to construct the one-story warehouse at 709 Senate Ave., which will be an addition between two existing structures it already owns at the site. Between the new construction and incorporating existing space, the warehouse project will be about 23,000 square feet.
“We see this as a different way to connect with the culinary industry,” said Andy Helmbock, sales executive at Zesco. “Because of the growth of IU, we need to alleviate one of our properties, and that gave us the opportunity to do this development. We are huge supporters of the downtown restaurant industry, so we think staying downtown is important.”
Zesco sold its current, 37,500-square-foot warehouse at 1410 Senate Ave. to IU Health in late August for $13.6 million, according to property records, but it’s not clear how long the company will be permitted to continue operating there.
The new warehouse will allow a variety of uses for the restaurant equipment and supply service company, including shipping and receiving, repairs and a new retail space. But a majority of the space will be reserved for staging and testing new concepts, Helmbock said.
“They’re really on the cutting edge,” said Steve Alexander, owner of Prince Alexander Architecture, the design and engineering firm on the project. “The new warehouse is more on-demand ordering and delivering, so they’re not going to warehouse as much heavy equipment as they have in the past.”
“Because our model is pivoting, we’re not the supply house that we used to be 20 years ago,” Helmbock said. “So we’ve really grown our relationships through our services, through consultation and through design.”
The building will have areas for potential test or pop-up kitchens, each between 1,000 and 2,000 square feet.
Zesco, founded in 1972, plans to maintain its 25,000-square-foot public showroom at 640 N. Capitol Ave., while adding a retail presence at the Senate warehouse for direct interactions with clients.
The company is the main equipment supplier for dozens of downtown restaurants and hotels, and counts Clustertruck, Huse Culinary and Patachou Inc. among its clients.
Zesco must receive approval for the new warehouse from the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development’s Regional Center Hearing Examiner. The case was slated for Oct. 15 before it was continued to Nov. 12 after a request by an undisclosed neighborhood organization.