Sports bar Champps ends 20-year run in downtown Indianapolis

Champps Kitchen + Bar has ended a 20-year run in downtown Indianapolis—another apparent victim to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Due to unforeseen circumstances, Champps is closed permanently as of Sunday 6/28/21,” a notice posted on the restaurant’s door says. “We appreciate everyone’s patronage over the years and look forward to serving you in other locations.”

The downtown sports bar and casual dining restaurant opened in Circle Centre at the corner of Washington and Illinois streets in 2001 as Champps Americana.

An employee said the restaurant simply could not continue to pay rent at the sizable location with almost no business. The ground-floor establishment thrived for two decades thanks to a steady stream of convention, mall and event business, but much of that dried up during the pandemic.

Champps was once a sizable chain with more than 60 sports bars, including another location in Indianapolis at Keystone at the Crossing that operated from 1995 to 2017.

A Champps at Indianapolis International Airport also recently ceased operations, but that closure was announced in 2019 as part of the airport’s rotating lineup of food and beverage vendors.

The 37-year-old, St. Paul, Minnesota-based company now lists only five remaining locations, with one each in Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Champps is owned by San Diego-based Fun Eats and Drinks LLC, which also owns the pub chain Fox & Hound. Fun Eats and Drinks acquired Fox & Hound and Champps for $26.8 million in 2017 after its former owner, Last Call Guarantor LLC, filed for bankruptcy. Last Call acquired the chain in 2007 from Champps Entertainment Inc.

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29 thoughts on “Sports bar Champps ends 20-year run in downtown Indianapolis

  1. As usual, ignored is the possible contribution of the unchecked downtown rioting last summer that scared people away from the downtown at least as much as did the pandemic. Nothing happens in a vacuum; both the pandemic AND the riots kept people away from downtown; neither should be discounted nor minimized.

    That said, we took our three local grandchildren to the Indianapolis Indians ball game downtown last evening and things seemed calm and safe enough.

    1. I look forward to the Indianapolis Bob Journal in which every article blames Joe Hogsett for all of Indianapolis’ problems. Why do Trumpublicans always have to have a scapegoat, Bob?

    2. Please nominate an alternative for the office. I welcome it and I suspect many other Indianapolis voters would give a serious candidate a serious look.

      A reminder the Republican alternative in 2019 did worse in every measure despite having an easy issue like “crime must be fixed” to run on. And that Greg Ballard won election twice.

  2. From the look of things at pfchangs the last couple of times I have walked by there I don’t think they are going to be open much longer either. Almost empty dining room even in Prime Dining hours

    1. No one is going downtown for work, maybe forever. No one is coming into downtown for conventions for another 6-12 months. If your business is dependent on these income streams to stay afloat, you’re in trouble. It’s very hard to stay in business just with folks coming downtown to eat once a week, tops.

      As mentioned in other threads and in the other local paper, the idea is to convert a few of these about-to-be-empty commercial real estate buildings to residential isn’t a bad one. It’s too late for the mall, but downtown residents would drive up demand for downtown restaurants and services.

  3. The restaurant chain has gone from 60 locations down to 5 in the last couple decades. Their food quality tanking is definitely a big reason for their closure. Most of their business was based on conventions because locals know that their food is extremely mediocre. That’s why the location near the Fashion Mall closed 3 years ago. Anyone blaming this on riots or the mayor is clueless. This is another mediocre chain restaurant with an expensive lease that couldn’t survive the pandemic.

    1. The Pandemic and the fact that nobody wanted to go downtown for the past year given the “peaceful protests”. Or should I say boarded up windows do to the unchecked rioting. We are lucky that things weren’t worse as they were in places like Chicago, now a ghost town. Clueless?? Check the mirror dude.

    2. Larry, that’s not reality. Most people have been over the riots that happened one weekend over a year ago for a long time. You’re only still talking about it because Fox News won’t let it go. Did the riots have an effect for a while in every city across the country? Absolutely. For how long? Probably a couple months at most in the cities that only had one weekend of rioting, like Indianapolis. The pandemic is the primary reason people weren’t packing Downtown. No workers, no convention attendees, and no events happening were all a result of the pandemic. It had very little or nothing to do with rioting. Also, hundreds of rioters were arrested, so it didn’t go unchecked. Also, Chicago isn’t a ghost town.

    3. Wesley, downtown Chicago is a ghost town. Why? because the incompetent Democratic mayor does nothing about crime and thanks to her and other Democrats demonizing the police force, many have left and those that remain only get involved when they absolutely have to. Of course when they do, someone will accuse them of police brutality and the liberal media will come running. You do watch the news, don’t you? Yes, Democrats have done wonders for Chicago. Wake up.

    4. Riots only effected things for a couple months? Really. And only over one weekend. Really. A) that is one weekend too many and B) ask the people of Portland how long the riots went on. You are living in a dream world and guess what— I don’t watch Fox News which is what you blame everyone’s thinking on. I don’t need over the top news shows to tell me how to think. Not Fox, Not CNLemon, Not MSNBMaddow

    5. Larry, this is the Indianapolis Business Journal. Portland has nothing to do with 90% of the rest of America. Rioting happened in Indianapolis one weekend, which is the case in 90% of the country. And yes, I firmly believe riots effected people’s desire to go Downtown for only a couple months. Now right-wing people like you probably will never go back, but I’m sure you’ve said the same thing after any incident of crime and hardly spent time there to begin with. And I don’t care what right-wing media source you frequent. The point is that right-wing sources are where you get “facts” from. Not sources like Indy Star or IBJ.

      The reality is that the pandemic is responsible for 99% of downtown Indy’s current problems. Champps didn’t survive because there are no convention crowds due to the pandemic, and locals have better taste. Stop over hyping the riots so much. It happened one weekend over a year ago, and it has long since gone away.

  4. Funny how the liberals on here ignore the obvious causes and play the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” game. As a lifelong resident of the Chicago area (who is on his way out to Indiana) I can tell you liberal democratic policies (i.e. “peaceful protests”) will absolutely ruin your cities and State. Don’t let that happen.

    1. Funny how the conservatives ignore that if you consume nothing but scare tactic news that tells you everything is going to hell, you think that everything is going to hell … regardless of the reality.

      Or that any news item that you don’t like is “leftist trash”.

      Or how the economy magically was awful under Obama but was great when Trump was inaugurated… which was in no way reflected by any economic indicator. Just reflected in perceptions.

      If you think your perception is more important than reality, you need to reassess.

  5. Joe, I live just outside of CHICAGO, in ILLINOIS, was born and raised here. I can tell you first hand what the REALITY is and what liberal policies like the ones you embrace have done, and continue to do, to that city and the state. I don’t need “scare tactic news” to tell me. As much as you would like to blame Trump, and Republicans in general, for everything, I got news for you: it wasn’t him, or Republicans, rioting and setting fires, causing havoc in pretty much every major city last summer, driving out good people and businesses during those “peaceful protests”. You’re just like every other liberal, and your straw man arguments, no matter how many times you repeat them, don’t work. (And before you bring up Jan. 6, which I know you’d like to, we’re not talking about DC; we’re talking about the REALITY of the failing cities and towns that we live and work in)

    1. TM, remind me, why were people rioting … this time? And why have they been rioting for well over 100 years now?

      From the Tulsa race riots (and before) to today, IMO people riot when they feel threatened, when they think violence is the only answer to their problems.

      And, you brought it up … January 6th is pretty much the same thing with a different group of people. People who felt that had no voice, and felt that violence was the only alternative.

  6. Yah, no, not the same thing. Wrong as it was, they were let into that building, didn’t start fires, happened in one city, not multiple, was over in a matter of hours, not days, nice try. Your comrades think violence is the only answer because they were taught that it’s OK by the media and Democratic mayors who pacify and enable them. You think your scum buddies anti-fa felt threatened when they decided to hold Portland, Seattle and other cities hostage with their “peaceful protests”? Let’s see if you excuse them when they burn your house or place of business down. But I guess in your view the ends justify the means, right?

    1. And there goes any credibility you had. If they were let into the building, why are they on video smashing windows and beating police officers? You obviously don’t watch anything but Fox News and right-wing Facebook videos. By the way, Downtown Chicago is not empty.

      Obviously riots aren’t a good thing no matter what group is rioting, but the hypocrisy spewed by right-wing radicals like you is ridiculous. Some elements of your side rioted because you’re gullible and believe an election was “stolen”, even though it’s been proven it wasn’t. Some elements of BLM rioted because of hundreds of years of systemic racism and injustice, which is completely true. Neither side is right to riot, but at least the BLM rioters were rioting on the basis of indisputable facts. Your side rioted because you’re brainwashed by Trump and right-wing media outlets.

    2. The fact that TM calls downtown Chicago a ghost town is also hilarious. I have been 5 x past 2 months and is experiencing a continued building boom and is vibrant. Just so much in way of paranoid scare tactic falsehoods in TMs claims. First of all, as a downtown resident with young children, the protests were by in large part peaceful. The totality of damage, though inexcusable, did not lead to Indianapolis downtown struggles. Our economy downtown is based on conventions and more so the office workers downtown. Indy has been in need of a more densely populated core for some time, and this is could not be more evident as with the pandemic. Luckily the pandemic is improving due to vaccine and we do not have to depend on half of the country failing to recognize the importance of simply wearing a mask to minimize spread. Businesses in indy, chicago and all big cities were devastated by restrictions placed on capacity due to areas maintaining as constant hot spots. A difficult reality where we were a country without a competent leader to combat absurd misinformation spreading faster than virus itself. To blame the mayor and “riots” is nothing more than convenient superficial propaganda. These matters are nuanced in nature and require looking into structural systems and root causes to address. Like Joe B mentioned, more residents in city center is going to go a long way to the future of downtown. As for the mall, cannot see any hope from retail standpoint unless converted to indoor outlet shops/factory stores which include high end establishments driving metro residents to pursue as shopping destination.

    3. OK, Wesley, the credibility cop. I live just outside of Chicago and if you paid attention to the news you’d know how bad the crime is there (of course unless strong arm robberies and shootings don’t constitute crimes in your book) I’d be happy to post links to what goes on there every night, but liberals like you and Jacob will pretend it’s not happening because you want to protect any Democratically run cities reputation. Is Indianapolis like Chicago? No. But it will be as long as liberals like you two have your way.

    4. TM, I honestly can’t believe you live near Chicago if you say Downtown is a ghost town. My cousin lives there and it’s bouncing back nicely. Just search Chicago on Instagram if you think that anecdote isn’t enough evidence. Crime is a problem in Chicago. Crime is a problem in Indianapolis. There, I admitted it! Never denied it in the first place, but you seem to think I did.

      Crime isn’t a Democrat or Republican problem, it’s an American problem. If you want to blame Democrats because they have power in most major cities, that’s fine, but that’s not necessarily a valid argument. I could just as easily say that Republicans who dominate the rest of Indiana politics are at fault. Or I could blame the national Republican Party blocking gun control measures.

      Here’s a question for you. Why are all of the most liberal Western democracies way less violent than the United States? If liberal policies are the problem, why isn’t crime out of control in London or Paris like it is in Chicago?

      I also like how you completely ignored my points regarding rioting. I’m assuming it’s because you can’t refute them, so you wanted to pivot the conversation to violent crime.

    5. TM, you should have stopped while you were behind. You’re right, it wasn’t the same thing – it was far worse.

      “Didn’t start fires”.

      That’s nice of them to show the place some respect. I mean, other than the feces they left behind.

      Where does building a gallows to hang the vice president of the United States land on your little scale?

      More on your “not the same” protest, the first time anyone has stormed the Capitol since the war of 1812. Heck, first time Confederate flags made it that far too.

  7. I like how people say phrases like crappy chain food, as if local mom and pops are inherently high quality. Very few local food places are better than most chains.

    1. Except Champps is crappy chain food. Ruth Chris, Oceanaire, and Capitol Grill are all good chain restaurants within a block of Champps. Weber Grill, also a chain that’s a block away, is significantly better, and serves a very similar menu.

  8. Downtown Chicago a ghost town, lol. It’s always the people who live “just outside” the cities who think they know exactly what’s wrong with them. Small towns, small minds.