The International Marketplace district on the city’s northwest side is experiencing a flurry of restaurant activity, with two recent openings, two others opening this week and another handful expected to open by the end of the year.
An Asian restaurant, Homey Hot Pot, opened Wednesday at 3649 Lafayette Road in a space formerly occupied by Szechwan Garden. It offers a buffet, sushi rolls and a hot pot experience where patrons can select items and cook them at their tables.
This is the third location for Homey Hot Pot, which also has restaurants in Bloomington and Vincennes.
And Bon Appetit, a Haitian restaurant owned by Mickerson Joseph, opens Sunday at 4225 Lafayette Road.
Joseph immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti in 1992 and worked at restaurants in Orlando, Florida and Texas before coming to Indianapolis. He has 26 years of culinary experience.
Taste of Dubai, a Middle Eastern restaurant at 4672 W. 38th St., opened earlier this month, and Thai Town Cuisine opened last month at 5130 W. 38th St.
All told, nine restaurants have opened in the district this year, which spans Lafayette Road between 34th and 46th streets and 38th Street between High School Road and Commercial Drive. Another four to five are expected to open yet this year.
“This year has been extremely active,” said Mary Clark, executive director of the International Marketplace Coalition.
The not-for-profit coalition, originally named the Lafayette Square Area Coalition, was formed in 2005. The group decided to pivot from saving Lafayette Square to embracing the area’s emerging international flavor and changed its name to reflect that, Clark said.
Clark said the area will be home to 109 ethnic restaurants by the end of the year, spanning cuisines from Mexican and Indian to Ethiopian and Peruvian.
Clark said she believes restaurateurs are attracted to the district as it gains more widespread recognition. “We’ve been getting a lot of press in the last couple of years.”
The publication Food & Wine profiled the International Marketplace in a story last fall in a story headlined, “The Most Interesting Neighborhood in Indianapolis.”
Public Radio International did a piece on the International Marketplace in 2016, and the National Culinary Review wrote a story in 2015. The New York Times wrote about the area and its restaurants in 2011.
In other news this week:
— Sun King’s Broad Ripple Tap Room opens Saturday at 1021 Broad Ripple Ave. It will offer food from Offshore, a concept created by FK Restaurant Group, operator of the Pier 48 Fish House and Oyster Bar in downtown Indianapolis, which opened last month across from Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.
Sun King took over the Broad Ripple space from Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co., which closed June 9 after parent company Scotty’s Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Sun King acquired the location’s assets, including its liquor license, equipment and furnishings, at auction this summer.
— Boot Barn is opening a new store in the Southport Commons shopping center at 4850 E. Southport Road. Plans filed with the city of Indianapolis indicate the retailer is taking a 13,603-square-foot space on the west end of the shopping center, which is anchored by Target, Home Depot and Kohl’s. The retailer, which sells cowboy boots, cowboy hats and other western attire, is targeting an early spring 2020 opening.
This will be the Irvine, California-based retailer’s second Indianapolis store, joining one at 8366 Castleton Corner Drive near Castleton Square Mall. Boot Barn has two other Indiana stores, in Clarksville and Evansville, and a total of 242 stores in 33 states.
— Chick-fil-A plans to open at 2020 E. County Line Road, just east of U.S. 31 on the Indianapolis side of the Marion County/Johnson County border.
A former Fifth Third Bank branch stands on the site. Fifth Third vacated the building in 2015. Chick-fil-A said it plans to demolish and replace the building. It’s shooting for an opening in late fall of 2020. The new store will join another Chick-fil-A just across the road to the south, inside Greenwood Park Mall. The mall location will remain open.
Based in Atlanta, Chick-fil-A has more than 2,400 restaurants around the U.S., including more than a dozen in the Indianapolis area.