They’re casual and formal and ready for you to order in or for take-out.
New owners plan a ‘lighter’ and ‘more open’ bar named The Corner
A baby boomer sing-along in the Corner Wine Bar basement Friday night broadcast a raucous “Rockin’ Robin.” Upstairs, in tiny, wood-paneled The Wellington Pub, chill millennials threw darts and nursed craft beers, happily oblivious to the subterranean shenanigans.
In another room, Parisian charm imbued a snug wine bar. Friends and couples lingered over their last few sips and maybe savored the always assorted crowd, just as was in that moment.
Once Corner Wine Bar is sold this March, it will never be the same. The final night is March 7.
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“We’re going to try to keep some continuity between our place and the Corner Wine Bar, but there’s definitely going to be a few changes,” buyer Chris Kirksey said.
“For all intents and purposes, The Wellington is not going to be The Wellington anymore.”
The classic British-style pub, nicknamed The Welly, is as beloved as the rest of the 35-year-old wine bar complex in the heart of Broad Ripple. Tucked off the main drag, the neighborhood gathering places linked together under one roof represent civil, friendly and inclusive escapes from the nearby strip’s beer-slamming college bar scene.
There’s history, too. Corner Wine Bar, 6331 Guilford Ave., was one of the first Indiana bars to serve wine by the glass and wine on a patio.
“It’s, well, it’s an institution. It really is,” Broad Ripple Farmers market manager Barbara Wilder said.
Once the Corner Wine Bar sale is finalized this month, the business will be closed for a few weeks while Kirksey and his two silent business partners “lighten” and “open up” the space, making it a single experience named The Corner, Kirksey said.
Remodeling means The Welly is a goner, but the basement will survive, live music and all. That’s little consolation for the pub’s fans.
“For me, and many friends, The Wellington has offered the most reliable and proper pint of anywhere in town,” Stewart M. Burns said. “And it’s tough to beat a pub with a fireplace next to two dart boards.”
Wine will remain prominent on the drinks list and at events but be joined by new cocktails. Kirksey, a Indiana University graduate who did his share of tromping along Broad Ripple Avenue back in the day, has worked over the past 13 years as bar manager at Downtown’s original Mo’s A Place for Steaks and its successor, Prime 47.
Also expect something like the Corner Wine Bar’s Sunday-Thursday $15.95 filet mignon dinner to return at least one night a week.
“We’re definitely going to try to broaden the audience, but we don’t want to alienate that group that has been supporting that place for so long,” Kirksey said. “We’re trying to make changes without making them so drastic that people no longer want to come.”
Broad Ripple Brewpub owners Nancy Hill, an Indiana native, and her Englishman husband, John Hill, opened Corner Wine Bar in 1982. Not much changed when Elizabeth Brunner Morse and Liza Zapata bought it in January 2001. The women elevated the menu from British pub food to slightly sophisticated French dishes like lobster bisque, steak au poivre and crème brulee.
Morse and Zapata were twentysomethings seeking more than corporate jobs when they bought Corner Wine Bar. Both loved the business, first as customers and then as owners, but after 16 years of running the compound, the pair was ready for new challenges and regular hours, Morse said.
Zapata moved on to a new job a couple years ago. Morse, who oversees Corner Wine Bar’s kitchen, plans to work as a private chef, teach cooking classes and maybe pen a cookbook. She’s excited about the future, but saying good-bye to Corner Wine Bar isn’t easy.
“It’s bittersweet for sure. I grew up going there,” Morse said. “Lots of memories.”
Follow IndyStar food writer Liz Biro on Twitter: @lizbiro, Instagram: @lizbiro, and on Facebook. Call her at (317) 444-6264.
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