After being forced to close his doors for months due to the coronavirus pandemic, Jazz Kitchen Owner David Allee decided to make the most of the downtime by renovating his historic Broad Ripple club.
“Two months in, we saw this was going to get extended out a little further,” Allee says. “The last renovation we did was darn near 20 years ago, so it was kind of time. We’ve had a lot of people coming through. The bathrooms got a lot of use. It was time to get it done.”
The historic Jazz Kitchen first opened its doors in 1994 and has been serving up tunes and delicious New Orleans-meets-Midwest cuisine ever since. Located on North College Avenue in Broad Ripple, the venue is currently operating at 25% capacity with shows on three nights out of the week.
Like much of the entertainment industry, the Jazz Kitchen was forced to close its doors in mid-March, before eventually reopening on November 9. During that span of eight months, Allee and company remained busy as they made improvements on the much-loved live music pillar.
“We did a little more than put new paint up,” Allee says. “We opened up some walls and just made the space more open in general. We upgraded the ventilation systems. We upgraded the bathrooms. A lot of that was in response to the current COVID situation. I think all of it kind of blends together. It’s definitely a long-term play, but also deals with the new world we’ll be living in.”
In terms of the bathrooms, Allee says his crew installed new wall tiling from floor to ceiling.
“They’d seen some good use through the years, so they definitely needed some love,” Allee says of the bathrooms. “We probably wouldn’t have done tile all the way up the walls. With COVID we just want people feeling comfortable that we’ve got good, cleanable surfaces, and if we wash it every day, it’s not going to deteriorate like a paint or something would.”
As for improved ventilation, the Jazz Kitchen went that extra mile as well.
“We have UVC lights in the ventilation systems to help kill viruses and bacteria,” Allee says. “There were some things that we probably went a little further on than we maybe would’ve normally done.”
As concert attendees enter the Jazz Kitchen, they will be greeted by a new vestibule, which was added to ensure comfort while awaiting entry.
“Sometimes on second shows, we’d notice we’d have a line outside going down the block,” Allee says. “While that looks great for advertising, it’s not real comfortable, especially on a cold or rainy day, so we put a big, long bench in there.”
Allee says music lovers have been excited to make their way back out to the storied Broad Ripple staple.
“I think by and large, people are eager to get out, but I’ve also gotten a lot of compliments,” he says. “They feel like this is a place they can come, be safe, and not feel like they’re in danger of catching something – so I guess we’re just going to keep on scrubbing.”
The Jazz Kitchen is located at 5377 North College Avenue in Indianapolis. You can reach them via phone at 317-253-4900, or visit their website at TheJazzKitchen.com.