Why some Indianapolis bars won’t stay open late despite tournament crowd

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Despite large crowds looking for entertainment and an extended curfew, some Indianapolis bars and restaurants are choosing to close by midnight.

With the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in the city, bars and restaurants are trying to turn as many tables as possible. Whether it is that there aren’t enough customers to stay open or there are too many customers that are getting out of control, it seems it’s the people in the crowds who are leading bar owners’ decisions on how late they will offer service.

While there are still options downtown for people to grab a nightcap or a late-night meal, “Any hours open is obviously always good because we get extra hours of revenue and revenue is obviously good,” said Steve Kelly, regional manager at Kilroy’s Bar and Grill downtown.

Some bars and restaurants have chosen not to take advantage of the extended 2 a.m. curfew in Marion County to attract college basketball fans.

“Yeah, it surprises me. That is just lost revenue if you are not pushing it and maximizing your sales during this time,” said Jeff Huron, general manager at another downtown bar, The District Tap.

World of Beer Bar & Kitchen is one of many spots downtown still closing early. The owner says the later the night gets and the more drinks that are consumed, the more difficult the crowd gets to control when it comes to social distancing and mask wearing, which is why the bar has chosen to close between midnight and 1 a.m. for the last couple of weeks.

Kelly at Kilroy’s said, “More people coming into town and staying here and more of a destination spot for the tournament and having fun and traveling from outside the city and coming into the city we saw a lot of influx of business.”

Kilroy’s Bar and Grill is a destination for those wanting a sports bar experience, so come tournament time Kelly says there are certain kinds of businesses who can benefit from the extra two hours, “such as nightclubs and what-not, and us more of a bar atmosphere verses a restaurant, so it obviously helps us out a lot.”

Huron at The District Tap says it is staying open until 2 a.m. at least on tournament days and weekend nights, “but that Sunday through Wednesday, you know, it is a little softer. It is busy during the day, you know; lunch is good, early dinner, early late night. But once you hit around 10 or 11, you see a pretty sharp drop-off.”

At a time when this bar owners say they have to be flexible when it comes to their game plan, some bars that are not taking advantage of the extended curfew time now will consider changing their hours when restrictions are lifted and they don’t have to police their customers as closely.