Fall Creek bridge project forces local landmark to close, move

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 7, 2014) — A local restaurant with decades of history on the northeast side of Indianapolis is closing its doors and moving in the wake of a major construction project that kicked off this week.

Murphy’s Steakhouse, open since 1977 in a building that has served food to the community since 1958, will close its North Keystone Avenue doors after dinner service on Valentine’s Day.

The City of Indianapolis said the project to reconstruct the Fall Creek bridge will restrict traffic through mid-November and not be completed until summer 2015.

Murphy’s Steakhouse owner Craig Stonebraker said that’s too much for the restaurant to bear, forcing him to merge with another local spot.  Pat Flynn’s, about one mile north on Allisonville Road, will close for three days, renovate and reopen as a new version of Murphy’s.

“I was 25 when I bought this restaurant, so I have a love affair with this building, this neighborhood and this restaurant.  [I]t’s gut-wrenching to move,” Stonebraker said.

“But if we’re going to survive and our staff, particularly our servers, are going to continue to make a living, we have to move.”

City of Indianapolis public information officer Kelly Janssen said the city had no choice but to take on the project.

“Every two years, federal guidelines require us to inspect the bridge,” Janssen said.  “This time, when we inspected the bridge, we found that the structural integrity of the bridge had been compromised, therefore requiring us to do reconstruction.”

In consideration for its troubles, the city’s contractor is paying Murphy’s to rent its parking lot to store its equipment during the construction project.

Stonebraker is trying to stay optimistic, while keeping well aware of the history from which he’s being forced to walk away.

“Small, owner-operator restaurants – there aren’t many of us left.  Communities need us and we thrive on our community business,” he said.  “I don’t think I’m frustrated about the bridge project.  I’m sad that we’re moving, but I’m excited that we’re staying in business.”