The owners of Bellacino’s Pizza & Grinders in Carmel have decided to close their 16-year-old restaurant, citing a major decline in business after the massive reconstruction of U.S. 31 limited access and visibility to the eatery.
The restaurant is set to shut down at the end of the day on Friday, co-owner Anne White told IBJ on Tuesday.
White and her husband, David, opened the business in 2001 in a retail center at 12590 N. Meridian St. They later added their son Patrick as a co-owner.
The Whites were an early franchisee of the Bellacino’s chain, which was founded in Portage, Michigan, in 1998. Each of the 60 or so locations in the chain are locally owned and operated.
Anne White said the family-friendly restaurant, which features a menu focused on pizza, sandwiches and salads, enjoyed a steady business until the massive U.S. 31 construction project completely changed roads and traffic patterns in the area.
The project tied up traffic in the area from 2011 to 2015 and turned North Meridian Street into a limited-access highway. Vehicles that previously were able to reach Bellacino’s from a busy intersection at Meridian and 126th Street no longer have that option. The nearest exits are now at 116th Street to the south and Main Street (131st Street) to the north.
“The changing of 31 gutted our business,” Anne White said. “If you’re traveling on 31, you either have to anticipate or backtrack to get our restaurant.”
In a Facebook post, David White said the “reconstruction of Highway 31 has changed our visibility and accessibility, resulting in a loss of over half our business. … With the loss of revenue combined with higher rent, it no longer makes sense for Bellacino’s to stay in our current home.”
Anne White said the restaurant’s lease in is up at the end of the month, so they decided to “pull the plug.”
The Whites considered opening in a new location but, after years of falling revenue, didn’t have the capital necessary to make the move.
The closure leaves one remaining Bellacino’s Pizza & Grinders in the Indianapolis area, at 1620 E. Michigan Road in Shelbyville. An Indianapolis location in Park 100 closed in 2015 after 15 years in business.