Civil Discourse Now

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MCL on Broad Ripple Avenue to close on May 17 after decades: one more bit of local flavor gone.

   Broad Ripple—“maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of our lives”—will become a “brand.” In the presentation a couple of years ago about the Whole Foods complex planned for the Village—because, as one presenter noted (to a chorus of boos from the audience that consisted of many customers and fans of longtime locally-owned and operated organic food store Good Earth) Broad Ripple lacks an organic food store—one of the “suits” on the stage of the Broad Ripple Methodist Church said the group from the Broad Ripple Village Association had tried to find a symbol or icon for The Village.
   Broad Ripple might as well become a brand—a corporate symbol to market whatever the pay-to-play people want to sell. Broad Ripple and Fountain Square seem to be little satellite areas to which visitors—for conventions, sports events, etc.—to the Circle City can go when those visitors become bored with the downtown area (built up by hundreds of millions of dollars in TIF funds).
   I remember a couple of visits I made to Broad Ripple shortly after I graduated from DePauw. I hit The Patio and enjoyed the music. A few years later, I was in Caesar’s the night John Belushi died. Caesar’s became The Stone Mug. Somehow I always ended up either at The Alley Cat or—and I did not know where it was, I would end up there somehow—Connor’s.
   As my second year of law school commenced, I moved from downtown to Broad Ripple and Jade North Apartments. Those apartments, on North College, were occupied by a lot of senior citizens. The place was convenient. After class or after work, I would park my ‘Vette—a 1983 Chevette, one of the worst-engineered vehicles ever—and trundle next door to The Mug, or down to Broad Ripple Avenue to Mickey Quinn’s or for dinner at El Matador. Johnny Whitaker’s was in what is now the downstairs of 10-01. Union Jack’s was where it is now.
   If one were adventurous, one could grab a cab to The Pawn Shop—the old Pawn Shop, at College and Kessler—or The Bull Dog, further south on College. Dinner could be at Schaeffer’s, with their fondu.
   Next morning, one could have breakfast at Fox Deli.
   There were cultural aspects to Broad Ripple other than the bars and places for food. There was a used bookstore in a house on Ferguson and Walden Books—okay, part of a national chain—was next to Peaches record store on Broad Ripple Avenue. Big Hat was here for a while, but did not last. I guess the reading public in Broad Ripple prefers to drive all the way to Barnes & Noble at Keystone at the Crossing.
   When I moved to Broad Ripple, in 1987, my old man would drive down occasionally from near Kokomo to have Sunday dinner. The place to which we always went was MCL Cafeteria.
   MCL had good food. MCL’s fried chicken was great. The mashed potatoes were awesome. The desserts were excellent. The folks were worked there all were local and had personalities. Some worked there for at least ten years or more. MCL also is a chain, but with main offices a couple of blocks east, on the other side of Keystone Avenue where Broad Ripple Avenue becomes 62nd Street.
   Once I was out of law school, and my office was here in Ripple, I often had lunch at MCL. Sometimes I had dinner there, or would pick up to take home.
   So I was shocked yesterday when Judy, who usually works entrees but has operated the cash register from time-to-time, informed me MCL will close that location. The last day is this Sunday, May 17. An assistant manager said the landlord refused to make repairs to bring the building up to code, and so MCL no longer could operate. The lease expired. After Sunday, one of the last local places will leave.
   I am confident the owner or owners of the building in which MCL has been located for at least three decades has a plan for the place. Other, smaller businesses are in the building—a nail spa, a clothes alteration place, and a Pak-Mail—and probably will have little difficulty if they have to re-locate. Somehow I think the vacant building behind MCL fits like a glove on a greedy hand with a vacant building in which MCL has been. The great seers who came up with their “vision” for Broad Ripple will pose, in line, to scoop, with ceremonial silver shovels, the first dirt for clearance and construction of—what? Will we see another box-like apartment structure?
   Corporate American wants every bar to be like Applebee’s®. Pay-to-play folks want to fund everything with TIFs, originally created for areas of impacted poverty, but now used for general development and subsidization of investments of interests already with money.  And those TIFs financially cripple the communities in which TIFs are deployed. TIFs were developed in the 1950s in California. As a funding concept TIFs were so successful, California now bans TIFs.
   I shall miss MCL. I shall miss the fried chicken and mashed potatoes. I even had begun to like the spinach and asparagus. I can drive to the MCL on 86th Street---but for lunch?
   And maybe the landlord will make those changes and not tear the place down. A bookstore will go in there. A different cafeteria will occupy the space where MCL has been for decades. Sure. That will be about the time Mayor Greg Ballard admits he was wrong—about anything—and Indianapolis stops funding billionaire sports owners over schools, police and streets.   

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Comment by City Beat Blogger on May 15, 2015 at 9:00am

MCL has always been a nice place, but the jump  (via everyplace that's closed in or around Broad Ripple over the past 30 years in a business where the average life span is 10) to any relationship to the BR "Plan" is just aN excuse for why you'll miss your chicken & dumplings


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