Indiana convenience-store chain pumping up Indy presence

Valparaiso-based convenience store chain Family Express, which opened its first Indianapolis store earlier this year, plans to start an expansion here with three suburban locations next year and several more in the works.

The Indianapolis store is at 7073 W. Washington St., near the Indianapolis International Airport. Family Express bought the property, which had housed another convenience store, last fall and opened earlier this year.

“Knowing our plans for the suburbs, we had an opportunity to get into a bit of a high-profile site near the airport,” said Family Express President and CEO Gus Olympidis. “We developed the site as sort of an hors d’oeuvre into our plans for the market.”

The Indianapolis store occupies 2,343 square feet, and Family Express has applied for permits to add another 1,370 square feet to the building.

Meanwhile, the company has new stores in the works in the Village of WestClay in Carmel and in Zionsville and Whitestown. The new stores will be built using the chain’s new 5,500-square-foot prototype, which includes an in-house Cravin’s To Order restaurant. Cravin’s To Order sells made-to-order pizza, boneless wings, pretzels and breakfast items, with interior and exterior seating for 28.

The stores will also feature a pet wash. The climate-controlled feature is similar to a self-service car wash; for $10, pet owners can give their pet a 12-minute bath, complete with shampoo, conditioner and flea and tick treatment.

Olympidis declined to provide the street addresses for the three stores in the works, nor would he specify the number or locations of future Indianapolis-area stores.

But the state’s liquor permit application database shows that Family Express has secured permits for stores in Zionsville, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Lebanon—nine locations total. Family Express secured the permits in anticipation of future growth in the Indianapolis market, Olympidis said.

Family Express, whose original name was Time Low, opened its first store in 1975 and will have 75 stores by year’s end. All locations are in northern and central Indiana. The publication Convenience Store Decisions named Family Express as its Chain of the Year in 2015.

In other retail news this week:

— Menswear chain Bonobos will open its first Indiana store Oct. 25 in a 1,300-square-foot space at The Fashion Mall at Keystone. Bonobos began as an online-only retailer in 2007, and it opened its first brick-and-mortar sites, which it calls Guideshops, in 2011. The Indianapolis store will be the company’s 58th location. 

Guideshop shoppers visit the store either by appointment or on a drop-in basis, and they receive one-on-one assistance from a guide who helps them select items for purchase from the store or online. Walmart Inc. acquired Bonobos Inc. last year.

— A Cabin Coffee Co. coffee shop is set to open next spring at 5530 E. U.S. 36 in Avon. The husband-and-wife team of Jordan and Stephanie Yant are the owners of the franchised location. The shop, which will take over a space previously occupied by Ritter’s Frozen Custard, will offer a drive-through, outdoor seating, a dining area and a meeting room that can host 28 to 30 people, Stephanie Yant told IBJ.

This will be the second Indiana store for Cabin Coffee Co, which also has a store in Goshen. The chain sells coffee and other hot and cold drinks, baked goods and other breakfast items as well as sandwiches.

Cabin Coffee Co. opened its first store in 2002 in Clear Lake, Iowa. The company now has more than a dozen stores in Iowa, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Joella’s Hot Chicken will open its Broad Ripple restaurant Oct. 22 in the spot that formerly housed Applebee’s at 1072 Broad Ripple Ave. The 4,800-square-foot building will offer a beer and wine bar and seating for 180, including a 30-seat patio that overlooks the White River. Each of the first 100 people in line for the opening will receive a one-year supply of chicken—52 coupons.

This will be the Louisville-based chain’s second Indianapolis store. Its first, at 4715 E. 96th St., opened in late 2016. Joella’s has two restaurants in Louisville, two in Cincinnati, one in Lexington and a Bloomington restaurant set to open in November at 3002 E. Third St.

Macy’s Castleton Square Mall store is one of 50 that the department store chain has upgraded as part of its Growth50 initiative.

The Castleton store added 28 employees, including specialists in beauty products and style advisers to help fitting-room customers. The site has also added new brands of beauty products, clothing and accessories; upgraded its checkout technology; updated its restrooms, lighting and flooring; and added a dedicated area for pickup and return of online purchases.

The Castleton store was the only one in Indiana included in the first wave of the initiative, which Macy's announced earlier this year.

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