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Downtown Indy restaurant owner: "Downtown is completely vibrant again"

Posted at 11:23 PM, Jan 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 08:23:54-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- It was a snowy Sunday in Downtown Indianapolis, but that did not stop people from enjoying shops, restaurants and like.

“We’re going from a period of time when we didn’t have much going on and now we’re looking at it what do we need to do to get prepared?” Owner and operator of the downtown Indy restaurant Sauce on the Side, Kels Watson said.

Watson and his team are preparing for potential new and returning customers as events start up again in the area.

“Downtown is completely vibrant again. It’s so awesome to see,” Watson said.

Watson said it was difficult with the slow foot traffic downtown for months, but take-out, to-go, and curbside has helped his downtown business survive.

“Just hit a year here and we made it through our first year. Hopefully, it’s the worst year ever and everything moves forward,” he said.

Research from the National Restaurant Association shows “consumers’ pent-up demand for restaurants is high.” The organization goes on to note, “nearly half of consumers say they aren’t using restaurants as often as they’d like.”

“I’s not as hopeless. You can see light at the end of the tunnel,” Watson said.

Earlier this week, Disney on Ice started at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and it brought the first paying spectators to the stands since the pandemic began.

“We brought Levi down so he can see Disney on Ice, so we’re here early so we stopped in the restaurant to relax before the show starts,” Cynthia Jones Johnson told WRTV as she stopped in to eat at Sauce on the Side with her grandson, Levi, daughter, and sister.

This past weekend also brought cheerleaders and their families from various states for a national competition at the convention center.

As for questions on health concerns with more people coming downtown, Watson said he feels people are acting responsibly and doing their part to stay safe.

“We’ve been practicing it for nine months we should be professionals by this point. Everybody knows what’s going on. Signs are on doors,” Watson said. He added he hopes he can continue ramping up business as the year goes on and is looking at hiring additional staff to help as more events are planned for Downtown Indy.