Carmel restaurants close, blaming construction for lost business

CARMEL, Ind.- Another Carmel restaurant is closing its doors, and the owner is blaming ongoing construction for keeping diners away. J. Razzo’s near U.S. 31 and West Carmel Drive will shut down in September, and other nearby businesses say they’re also feeling the impact of construction.

“Many of our customers here, they’ve become friends,” said J. Razzo’s bartender Nick Carpenter. He said several years’ worth of construction has made this place Carmel’s latest culinary casualty.

“Overall, I understand the big picture that they’re trying to do with the planning but I certainly feel like there were ways they could have mitigated this, said Carpenter.

Carpenter said the slowdown began several years ago, when the exits off U.S. 31 to West Carmel Drive were replaced by an overpass, cutting off direct access to West Carmel Drive from U.S. 31.

“Now they [drivers] have to get off north or south of us, work through some roundabouts, and then come in through the backside of the shopping center to get here,” said Carpenter.

And it continues today, with more construction happening just down the street.

Nearby, Bellacinos, an Italian restaurant, still sits vacant. Last November its owners closed up shop, also blaming construction from keeping diners away.

“It’s affected us because down are the lunches and dinner, too,” said Chris Ayala at La Hacienda, a Mexican restaurant next door to where Bellacinos used to be.

Last fall, the city of Carmel said hates to see any business close and that everything the city does is geared towards helping local businesses thrive.

The city has yet to respond to our request for comment though in regards to this story.

We did speak with one restaurant in the area who said they saw a drop off during the overpass construction, but since completion has seen business return to normal.

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