Many businesses have come in and out of The Village. Todd Donati, director of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission is working to bring Muncie residents to the Village by adding more food establishments. Samantha Brammer // DN File
Village turnover may not be a problem, but that doesn't mean area is perfect
Scott Wise has seen a lot of businesses come and go in the Village.
The former owner of Scotty’s Brewhouse has been there for 20 years, but he doesn’t see the turnover as a problem.
“It’s just a life cycle of businesses,” Wise said. “It would be great it you could have a business stand test of time and be there for much longer … but Muncie’s business traffic has kind of changed a bit.”
What has closed in the past few years?
- Puerta al Paraiso
- Cleo's Bourbon Bar
- The Locker Room
- Dill Street Bar and Grill
- D Lux Bar and Lounge
- Brother's Bar and Grill
- Two Cats Cafe
- Village Promenade
- HotBox Pizza
- Body Language Tattoo
- Let's Spoon
Some businesses, like Scotty’s and the Chug, have been a consistent figure of the Village. Others come and go as the demographics and times change. Many of the recent closures have been smaller bars, replaced instead by the bigger chain, Brothers Bar and Grill.
Wise remembers being a teenager and hanging out at the arcade and the hot dog and root beer stand. Those aren’t there anymore, but Wise still loves the area.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that need to change. Todd Donati, director of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission is working to bring Muncie residents to the Village, and to help them see it’s a good place to eat and shop.
“The issue right now is getting the right businesses down there, the right mixture,” Donati said.
He wants more food establishments, maybe even a grocery store-type outlet for students and residents who live in the neighborhood.
Even so, the turnover isn’t a concern for Donati. The area is just something that can be improved.
The main thing, Donati said, is that people need to feel comfortable coming into the Village and spending time there. Students are already at this point, but he wants more Muncie residents to come and shop.
Wise agrees that getting the community into the Village can be a challenge at times.
“I hear a lot of the community saying they can’t wait until summer so they can go back into the Village,” Wise said.
But this isn’t just in Muncie. Wise hears this on Kirkwood Avenue in Bloomington with Indiana University and Wabash Landing near Purdue University.
One of the main concerns for Muncie residents is parking, Donati said. Students can walk from campus, but it’s harder when residents have to find a parking spot — which often isn’t near where they’re going. The Village doesn’t have a lot of street parking or lots near the businesses. Instead, there’s a large parking garage just a few-minutes walk away.
“We’re finding people in this town have a tendency to avoid parking garages, for some reason,” Donati said. “People have a tendency to want to pull right up front, go in, spend money and get right back in and leave.”
Parking was one of the reasons Puerta al Paraiso closed in October after being open for a little less than two years. But they also relied too much on the students keeping them open, Donati said.
“They didn’t have a plan B,” he said. “I think they weren’t ready, they weren’t prepared.”
But other small businesses, like Let’s Spoon, are doing fine, he said. In fact, about 90 percent of the businesses there are doing well.
Wise, who has seen the Village grow for around a quarter of a century, thinks overall it’s a successful area.
He’s seen it improve, both with the businesses there and with the quality of the buildings themselves. If Ball State continues to grow closer to the Village — as the campus master plan aims to do — it will help even more.
“I’ve seen highs and lows, and recessions,” Wise said. “Business isn’t easy or everyone would do it.”
And even through those highs and lows, any problems the Village may have are fixable, Donati said.
There’s a plan in place, Donati said, and while it may take some time to complete, it will get done.