Carmel restaurant owner claims endless city construction ruining his business

CARMEL, Ind. – A Carmel restaurant owner says the city’s seemingly endless construction projects are killing his bottom line, and it’s not the first time he’s been through this.

John Perazzo, owner of J. Razzo’s, said when he found out Pennsylvania Street near his restaurant would be closed to construct a roundabout, it felt like the worst case of déjà vu.

“I was fuming this morning. I was angry and upset at the same time,” he said, “I didn’t even know the roundabout was going in.”

The roundabout will be just another in a long string of Carmel road projects planned for the next few years, many occurring at the same time. But for Perazzo, enough is enough.

“I’ve been fighting construction for four years now, and the city of Carmel has not been kind to the small businessman,” he said.

Direct access to the Hamilton Crossing Shopping Center from U.S. 31 was effectively cut off by the highway’s reconstruction and expansion. Perazzo said two years of that sliced his lunch crowd by 50% and the dinner crowd by 30%, leading to thousands of dollars in losses.

“I would guess $300,000,” he said.

He was so angry Monday about the Pennsylvania Street construction that he drafted a letter to Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard.

“I was just beginning to rekindle some of the business I lost during this massive construction,” the letter reads, “This has been a burden for myself and my employees who depend on tips.”

Another business owner in the complex didn’t want to go on camera but shared Perazzo’s feelings, telling us that vacancies have increased and traffic is down. That owner fears the worst as well with more construction and detours.

Perazzo is trying to stay optimistic, but he admits that it’s pretty tough.

“I’m disgusted with the city and to tell you the truth, I’m really worried about my business right now,” he said.

According to the city, the Pennsylvania Street and City Center Drive roundabout will take 45 days to construct, weather permitting.

We reached out to the city of Carmel with Perazzo’s concerns, and a spokesperson said they like to work with businesses as much as possible during the construction cycle.

However, both business owners we talked with on Monday said they had no idea about the closure or the roundabout and hadn’t been notified by the city.