Colts games bring crowds, much-needed boost for downtown businesses

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Colts games are bringing big crowds back to downtown and giving businesses a much-needed boost. Sunday was the first time bars and restaurants could be at full capacity on a game weekend since 2019.

Owner of Stadium Tavern and the Whistle Stop, Rob Strong, said if this year looked anything like last, he would not have been able to survive.

“We’re still behind. You know, last year I lost $100,000 just at this location. So yeah, every little penny helps. Days like today is amazing,” Strong said.

The day wasn’t as smooth as strong had hoped. That’s because like many other business owners, he’s struggling to find staff. Plus, Strong said supplies are still limited.

“A lot of extra hours. Can’t find cooks. One week I can get certain foods and liquors, other weeks I can’t. But we’re gonna make it. We’ll be alright, especially with days like today,” said Strong.

Over at The District Tap, General Manager Jeff Huron said it’s the same story.

“You know, (it’s) not as bad here as some of the other places. Fortunately, I haven’t turned anybody away yet, but most people are pretty understanding with slightly longer waits and things like that,” said Huron.

Businesses are soaking up every second, especially with the COVID-19 delta variant causing more concern. It’s something both Huron and Strong have given more thought to recently.

“That’s obviously in the back of my mind, and I’m sure every other restaurant downtown. You know, we’ll stay in compliance with the CDC and the most current local regulations,” said Huron.

“It’s definitely in the back of my mind. How many times can they shut us down though?” said Strong.

For now, their focus is hiring more staff to make sure customers are well-served. Until that happens, they’re asking for patience, specifically during weekends with large events.


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