Chatterbox Jazz Club to reopen, owner explains how he survived closures

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The banner announcing the St. Patrick’s Day 2020 choir song still hangs behind the Chatterbox Jazz Club bar. Chatterbox owner David Andrichik was preparing for the club’s annual Irish holiday celebration when coronavirus restrictions took hold in Indiana. Since March 16, 2020, the bar stools have been stacked upside down on the counter while waiting for customers.

For almost a year and a half of the Chatterbox shutdown, Andrichik spent his business savings, personal savings, and part of his retirement savings to keep the jazz club he has owned for nearly 40 years in hibernation. .

“Nobody knew when it started. Would it be 30 days, 60 days, six months and now it won’t quite approach a year and a half,” Andrichik said. “Fortunately, fortunately, I was able to survive.”

Andrichik looks forward to welcoming customers back to the original club decorated with colorful lights, racing flag pennant garlands and history scribbled walls. It plans to reopen the doors in early August, but no exact date was announced Thursday afternoon.

Andrichik said the lifting of Marion County’s COVID-19 restrictions on July 1 made reopening financially possible.

On July 1, restaurants, bars, gyms, hairdressers, museums, concert halls, sports facilities and other businesses were allowed to open at 100% capacity in Marion County. Unvaccinated people are also not required by the county to wear masks indoors, but some businesses may still need masks.

Following: Marion County to Lift All Remaining COVID-19 Restrictions on July 1

Andrichik said some people don’t understand why the Chatterbox couldn’t open when restaurants and other jazz clubs were able to open earlier in the year. But due to the stage spacing and social distancing that would have been required for a bar and concert hall, Andrichik said it would have been nearly impossible to make a profit in the long, narrow space of the Chatterbox which is only 18 feet in diameter.

“It would be pointless if we opened before we could go bankrupt and had no business at all,” Andrichik said.

Although the restrictions kept his jazz club closed, Andrichik said he supported Mayor Joe Hogsett’s COVID-19 guidelines because they were based on science and data specific to Marion County.

“Dr. Caine has been great,” he said. “I watched or read about each of their press conferences.”

Former Andrichik employees, some of whom worked at Chatterbox for over 20 years, will also return. Hours have changed slightly, but the club will still be open seven days a week, he said.

For now, the Chatterbox stage is Andrichik’s makeshift workspace where his laptop and coffee are located. The 123-year-old building is undergoing much needed repairs, but the walls and shelves above the bar will remain as they have been for years.

Since Andrichick bought the building in 1982, clients have taken care of much of the decor. The walls were regularly plastered with photos, postcards, stickers, newspaper clippings, Sharpie messages, dollar bills with handwritten notes, sketches of clients and paintings of the musicians. A similar collection of random trinkets – including a zoo macaque monkey statue, Ronald Reagan figure, puppet, bowling pin, papier-mâché Mr. Potato Head, and Transformer toys – can be found on shelves behind the counter.

“Even regular customers, which means we’ll see them once or twice a month, they’ll come back and ask, ‘When did you get that? And I’ll say, ‘Well, I had that in 1987,’ “Andrichik said.” You know, you notice something new because you’ve never focused on it before. “

Andrichik bought the bar as a young architect looking to expand his investment portfolio. At that time, Chatterbox primarily catered to workers at the nearby factory and was open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Drawing on his love of live music, Andrichik quickly added a stage to accommodate local bands and opened the bar later in the day. The club has long embraced the local jazz scene which began in Indiana Avenue jazz clubs in the 1930s and 1940s and has been fueled by local high schools and universities with high profile music programs.

“It was the Indianapolis legacy that still pays dividends today,” said Andrichik, noting the descendants of some Indianapolis jazz icons who play Chatterbox today.

It is a tradition that he intends to continue with the reopening of the club and the return of its regular musicians.

Over the past year, Andrichik thanked the Indianapolis Arts Council, the Parks Department and the NCAA Tournament for creating live and outdoor music opportunities for musicians and fans alike. live music. He loved seeing his musician friends and Chatterbox clients at shows.

“It has helped boost our musical culture and our city and it has helped me personally and psychologically for sure,” he said.

While he’s thrilled to reopen, hear live music again every night, and see all of his customers, there is one item that will be dear to Andrichik since the year the Chatterbox closed.

During the protests after George Floyd’s murder, Andrichik barricaded his windows to protect them and, thanks to the Arts Council’s program, artist Aaron “Ezi” Underwood painted a mural on the boards.

“It was our identity during COVID,” Andrichik said.

Recently the boards were removed after the mural was digitally archived, but Underwood gave Andrichik the board with Underwood’s signature as a keepsake. It’s now in the Chatterbox window, a symbol of the beauty that was created in the midst of darkness and a new addition to the Chatterbox story collage.


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