New downtown Indy business owner looking to revamp hot spot for crime

INDIANAPOLIS — A new downtown business owner is looking to revamp a popular stretch of South Meridian that’s been a hot spot for crime in recent years.

Lifelong Hoosier, Todd Johnson, bought the former Taps and Dolls building on 247 South Meridian Street. 

Johnson said he’s fed up with the violence downtown.

That’s why he bought the three-story building in order to revamp and revive a section of Meridian often associated with crime.

“I was noticing all the things that were happening here and just was starting to really turn on us this whole area it wasn’t giving Indy a good look,” said Johnson.

This week, Johnson opened chain-restaurant, Walk-on’s Bistreaux and Park & Rec in the building.

It’s a sight many people were happy to see.

“It was so much chaos that was here before the pandemic hit. I really didn’t want to come down here – until now,” said Indy resident, Thomas Fleming who on Thursday visited Walk-On’s Bistreaux.

“This is what the city needs, especially in the downtown area,” said Indy resident Kelli Gore, who visited Walk-On’s Bistreaux Thursday. “It was pretty bad. Especially for those couple years of COVID. That [COVID] helped just demolish the area even more. So, I think that it’s a new face to an old city. I’m excited!”

On the first floor is Walk-on’s Bistreaux – a family-friendly restaurant Johnson hopes will bring a more positive vibe to the area.  

“We’ve had a plethora of police runs before here,” Johnson said. “Well over 100. Eclipsing that number in just one year.  Since we’ve been open, we’ve had zero police runs.”

On the second floor is a pub and game room called Park & Rec, named after Johnson’s son, Parker.

To get in, Johnson has installed brand new security complete with a metal detector and the same ID scanners used at TSA. This allows Johnson to not only flag problem patrons but share their info with other business owners who use the same technology.

“It’s not going to be tolerated here,” Johnson said. “We’re not just trying to push crime and ill will from this building to another spot across the street.”

On the third floor will be an upscale event center which Johnson plans to open sometime this summer.

All changes Johnson hopes will be just the start of positive changes downtown

“I don’t want to have a great product on the first floor. And then have the top two floors just be Armageddon,” Johnson said. “I want to make sure when you come in here you know when you step foot on 247 south meridian street, it’s operated properly, and people are going to come in with a smile on their face and leave in a safe environment.”

Johnson also said he is eyeing other buildings downtown and in the metro area to revamp.

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