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2 years of COVID: Here are the businesses that opened in Indianapolis during the pandemic

Posted at 6:00 AM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-11 14:58:08-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Friday, Mar. 11 marks two years since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic.

The pandemic's impact has been far-reaching, with droves of businesses closing permanently.

In a surprising twist, we've also seen a significant increase in startup businesses.

By the Numbers

Although nearly 20% of Indiana's restaurants closed from March 2020 to December 2020, there was a significant number of new businesses and startups that sprouted up during that eight-month period. In July 2020 alone, 10,208 new businesses were established in the state.

Here are the central Indiana businesses we said goodbye to in 2020

According to the Census Bureau's Business Formation Statistics, over 68,000 business applications were filed in 2020 in the Hoosier state. That's an increase of 28% from 2019.

And in Marion County, 19,294 entrepreneurs launched businesses in 2020, an increase of 40.5% from 2019.

Here's what happened in a few other counties:

According to Yelp's data, new restaurant, food, travel, and local service businesses increased by 16.2% in the last two years.

MORE: Indianapolis sees increase in openings of Black-owned businesses during pandemic

Why did so many new businesses open during the pandemic?

There are many reasons for the surge in startups and first-time entrepreneurs — from the desire for self-employment, job loss, the opportunity to run entirely virtual businesses, plus some companies experiencing a renewed demand during the pandemic.

The pandemic's impact on the U.S. economy and exactly how it has changed the way our world operates is something that still needs to be thoroughly studied by economists, according to a Reuters report by Howard Schneider.

"New ventures often fail, and it may take several years to determine what the surge of pandemic business-creation means. Some of the sectors where business applications surged the most, such as in retail and warehousing, may be most vulnerable if the economy and spending slows, or if a new recession hits," Schneider wrote.

So, the Indianapolis community can choose to look at the glass as half empty or half full.

One thing is for sure: Despite the stay-at-home orders, social distancing requirements, supply chain shortages and countless other challenges, several entrepreneurs took their shot at operating a business over the last two years. Here's a look at just some of those local restaurants, boutiques, bars and more.


317 BBQ: Soon after the Burger Fuel franchisee left the space at 6320 Guilford Ave in Broad Ripple, this new barbeque joint moved in. They opened toward the end of the year first with carryout orders and worked their way up to in-person dining.

Photo Sep 30, 1 26 24 PM.jpg
9th Street Bistro in downtown Noblesville.

9th Street Bistro: Chef Samir Mohammad and his wife Rachel Firestone Mohammad moved from Colorado to Noblesville at the end of 2019 with the purpose of owning their own restaurant. Despite the challenges, the couple's creativity and willingness to pivot helped make their globally-inspired restaurant successful.

Amberson Coffee & Grocer: In June, a new specialty coffee shop and neighborhood grocer opened in downtown Indy's Fletcher Place. Amberson Coffee & Grocer is open every day and has a jar program that is sure to please the most sustainable of environmentalists.

Apocalypse Burger: Apocalypse Burger is the latest addition to the Patachou, Inc.'s restaurant gang serving up "spite fries" and "revenge burgers" on the north side of Indianapolis in the Meridian-Kessler neighborhood.

Bae Latin Food: In Carmel, Bae Latin Food is serving up urban Latin cuisine. The restaurant celebrates Latin culture while also serving up dishes like steak pepito, nachos, tacolanos and arepas.

Brown County Bikes: It's the only bike shop in downtown Nashville, directly adjacent to Brown County State Park. And it was a lifelong dream for couple Danielle and Kate Nolan.

Bubbatown Burrito Co.: Bubbatown Burrito is a pre-ordered heat-and-serve breakfast burrito joint that offers delivery and curbside pickup. You can also try out their burritos on select days at Mass Ave's Love Handle.

Cassandra Smith-Johnson is the founder and face behind "The Cheesecake Lady" in Indianapolis. Here she is pictured during an interview with WRTV at Indy's Kitchen on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022.

The Cheesecake Lady: Cassandra Smith-Johnson says she didn't choose the cheesecake business — the cheesecake business chose her. Now, Smith-Johnson is rockin' and rollin' at "Indy's Kitchen," on the near north side of Indy.

Command Coffee: Where College Avenue and Fall Creek Trail meet you'll find Command Coffee. Once a Starbucks, the coffee shop has seating space and a drive-through.

Dad's Kitchen: In the heart of Broad Ripple, this tiny family-owned cafe promises to taste "like home."

Exchange Whiskey Bar: A "whiskey lover's destination," the speakeasy-style whiskey bar opened in a second location at 301 Massachusetts Avenue.

WRTV Photojournalist Otis Jones gets a first-look at The Garage Food Hall in the Bottleworks District.

The Garage Food Hall at Bottleworks: The community-focused food hall is the first of its kind in Indy, with several artisans, chefs, and independently-owned vendors taking up the lively space.

Goldleaf Savory & Sweet: This establishment features staples from all of your favorite community hangs — espresso, small plates, beer, and wine.

Invy Nightclub: Although nightlife has looked completely different throughout the pandemic, this new nightclub hit downtown Indianapolis in the former Revel Nightclub location.

I Heart Mac & Cheese: Indiana's first build-your-own macaroni and cheese franchise is located in Westfield.

Leviathan Bakehouse: The owners put their stamp on everything that comes out of this bakehouse located at 1101 N. College Avenue.

Living Room Theatres: This two-story, state-of-the-art theater has eight screens that feature independent, critically-acclaimed and Hollywood films — and you can watch all of them from comfortable seating with upscale viewing and dining.

Mori Sushi: This Japanese restaurant serving ramen and sushi opened right at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Mori Sushi is housed in the Fletcher Place neighborhood and has quickly become a favorite among Indianapolis residents, according to Yelp.

Ohana Donuts and Ice Cream in Fishers is offering decorative donuts, donut skewers, and DIY kits for Valentine's Day. Photo was taken Monday, Feb. 7, 2022.

Ohana Donuts & Ice Cream: Ohana Donuts & Ice Cream in Fishers has maintained the creation of unique sweet treats for every holiday — from monster donuts for Halloween to reindeer donuts for Christmas.

Peppy Grill: Peppy Grill has been around for literal decades in Fountain Square, but its new location opened In The Ave near the IUPUI campus opened June 2020. It's open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Rabble Coffee: After shutting its doors due to the pandemic, new owners took over the coffee shop.

Rose and Lois Cafe: The Carmel cafe opened at the beginning of the pandemic with the goal of getting fresh food to people.

Slapfish: This seafood joint hit Mass Ave in Indy with outdoor seating and a full bar.

Usta Turkish Restaurant: This restaurant that opened on Guilford Avenue in Indianapolis boasts home-style cooking.

Lara Chapman, the founder and lead vocal coach of VoxTape Studios, plays the piano and sings a song while in her Indianapolis music studio on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022.

VoxTape Studios: After going viral on Tik Tok, vocal coach Lara Chapman opened her own studio for music lessons.


A Taproom: A Taproom opened on North Delaware Street next to Goose the Market on the city's near north side, and the name of the spot is as literal as it gets.

Bien Mexicana: After losing her job during the pandemic, Angela Garcia opened a food truck serving authentic Mexican food.

The Block Bistro and Grill: After closing one restaurant due to the pandemic, Terry Anthony opened this upscale American food restaurant.

A Big Burgeezy (left) and Crispy Chick'n sandwich (right) from Burgeezy, a plant-based and dairy-free burger joint in Indianapolis.

Burgeezy: This Indianapolis plant-based burger joint is expanding their menu and restaurant.

Bondo's Cookies: Former Colts player Deyshawn Bond and his wife Ashley hope their new cookie pickup and delivery business will help bring people together.

California Burger: Located on the weat side of Indianapolis, this restaurant attracted a lot of attention when it opened its doors on New Year's day.

The Cannon Ball Lounge: The Cannon Ball Lounge offers an assortment of beers from local breweries, craft cocktails, and wine.

Human Bean Coffee: It's the drive-thru coffee spot on Keystone Avenue you literally always knew you needed on the northeast side. Situated in an old Rally's, The Human Bean first opened in June.

The Hulman: Located inside Hotel Indy, The Hulman is the opportune place to grab a bite to eat before running up to The Cannon Ball. Its menu offers small, medium and large plates.

Lou Malnati's: Lou Malnati’s, one of the most famous Chicago-style pizzerias, has expanded to Carmel and Broad Ripple.

The Mad Griddle on Indy's near east side 'is a vibe all in itself'

The Mad Griddle: Mad drinks. Mad food. Mad vibes. Amanda and Tim Jones opened the long-awaited venue on East 10th Street in Indianapolis.

MOTW Coffee & Pastries: A mission to promote the beauty of commonality between Muslims and non-Muslims on social media turned into a charitable nonprofit that's changing lives. Now, a new coffee shop has opened in Indianapolis as a result of that mission.

Parlor Public House: Situated in the building that once housed a ping pong club now resides a chic coffee 'til cocktails joint sure to appeal to just about everyone's vibe.

The Spark: The Spark is a communal gem on Speedway's Main Street. Since opening in July, the coffee shop has hosted live music events and has been a gathering place for local high school students.

Storied Company: Inside a historic building, just steps off Delaware Street in downtown Indianapolis, a unique tasting bar and retail space unlike anything in the area makes its home.

Sidedoor Bagel: The owner of Sidedoor Bagel transitioned from selling bagels as a side gig to his first brick-and-mortar bakery on East 10th Street.

Top Out Cafe: On the second floor of "North Mass Boulder," a recently opened rock climbing gym on the near east side of Indianapolis, is a health-centric cafe. Top Out Cafe offers everything fresh and clean, from its food to its coffee.

Raw Bar by Slapfish: The owners of Slapfish expanded their reach on Mass Ave with the opening of its first raw bar outside of Californing.

Retro Metro is located at 2943 E. 46th St. on the northeast side of Indianapolis.

Retro Metro: Have you seen that navy blue house with a bright orange door on Binford Boulevard? That's Retro Metro! It's a vintage and consignment shop with plenty of novelties and art.

Ujamaa Community Bookstore: Ujamaa Community Bookstore is doing more than selling books and promoting reading. It's bringing US history to life, working to educate those who stop in about the culture and traditions of the Black experience in America.

YogaSix: Yoga has seen a big boom over the last year because of the peace it can bring to your mental health and overall stress—that’s why the owner of YogaSix in downtown’s Bottleworks District opened her doors.


La Eskina: La Eskina opened in early January in what used to be Tortas Guicho Dominguez in Fletcher Place. Just as before, it's still serving Mexican food just with a new style and exterior look

Sophia's Bridal & Tux location at The Shops at River Crossing: The newest Sophia's Bridal & Tux location at The Shops at River Crossing near The Fashion Mall that opened on Friday couldn't have come at a better time as it's becoming increasingly more complicated to find a wedding dress

Isuka Hibachi Express & Sushi: The corner of 16th and Penn on Indy's near north side is starting to see more life, beginning with the opening of Isuka Hibachi Express & Sushi.

Did we miss your business? WRTV Digital Reporter Shakkira Harris can be reached at You can follow her on Twitter, @shakkirasays.