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Real Estate & Retail

Downtown's Legal Beagle quietly closes, but could reopen soon

April 11, 2016

Even as downtown’s restaurant scene turned trendier, a local institution continued to churn out tenderloins and other pub fare for famished lawyers frequenting the City-County Building.

But Paddy’s Legal Beagle at 20 N. Delaware St. quietly closed about three weeks ago. The contents and liquor license that are available for $70,000 are generating strong interest, however, suggesting it could reopen soon in some capacity.

legal beagle 225px“I don’t think it will stay closed for very long,” said Larry Battershell, a commercial broker at Indiana Business Advisors. “There’s not that many bars with that type of character left downtown.”

The Beagle had survived a string of ownership changes in recent years. The last operator, Joe Chamberlain, who founded Hoaglin Catering, died about 18 months ago. His estate is selling the contents and liquor license.

He bought it in 2012 from local criminal defense lawyer David Hennessy, who still owns the building that houses the restaurant.

Hennessy actually had operated the Beagle a couple of different times and said Chamberlain had planned to rename it Murphy’s Law.

“It’s got all the charm in the world,” Hennessy said. “I just think it’s a really cool neighborhood bar.”

The three-story Italianate-style building is one of the oldest commercial structures in Indianapolis, constructed in 1866 by brothers John and Adam Hereth to house their saddle-and-harness shop, according to HistoricIndianapolis.com. Law offices mostly occupied the upper floors of the building, which was named the Hereth Block.

The Hereth brothers died in the early 1900s, and it's unclear what happened to the business after their deaths.

Another former owner, Gordon Etchison, is credited with changing the bar’s name to Legal Beagle from Connor’s Pub at least 20 years ago.

Etchison found himself in legal trouble in 1998 following an altercation in which he claimed he was only trying to protect the privacy of then-Indiana Pacers coach Larry Bird.

Etchison ultimately was convicted of battery for evicting a woman who spoke with Bird as he was drinking with an assistant coach, according to news accounts. Etchison told the woman to leave Bird alone and grabbed her wrist and her arms and pushed her toward a door.

Bird at the time said he had been having a conversation with the woman, “and the next thing I know, somebody asked her to leave, and he grabbed her arm or something.”

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