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Heartbeat: Athenaeum vs. Rathskeller



Your Facebook and Twitter feeds may have been taken over this morning by people concerned with the fate of the well-loved Rathskeller Biergarten, who very recently received a cease and desist on the popular concerts held inside the historic Athenaeum area. Plenty of people are voicing support for the Rathskeller's Biergarten on Facebook and other outlets. But what's the real story? Well, we don't really know yet. But below, you will find two excerpted sections which most concisely represent the official statements of the Athenaeum Foundation and the Rathskeller Restaurant and Biergarten.

First, a statement from Cassie Stockamp, President of the Athenaeum Foundation, on the Rathskeller Biergarten negotiations

"We appreciate all of your support. We are limited in what we can say due to the legal matter, but want to provide more information and some perspective from the Foundation.

"Our mission is to maintain this historic structure and community asset that is 117 years old, an anchor of Mass Ave and an important part of our community.

"This is great that we are seeing such support and community conversation about the Biergarten and this historic venue.

"We are a nonprofit and raise funds and donations to keep this entire building open every year for all tenants and patrons.

"Our mission is to manage the entire building, which includes more than just the Biergarten, including the YMCA, Young Actors Theatre, numerous events and other programs.

"We love the Biergarten and don't want to see it go away, and it isn't going away.

"We have attempted to work with the tenant over the last two years to resolve in a mutually beneficial way, and that requires compromise.

"We are seeking an arrangement that reflects the reality that this has essentially become a concert venue.

"The concert activities increase our wear and tear on the building including costs for us that we bear. This includes $6 million in deferred maintenance of which a quarter of a million is to soundproof the Biergarten wall.

"Our goal is to come to a mutually agreeable compromise and to continue to operate this historic community asset and anchor on Mass Ave."

Below is an excerpt from the "Reverse their demand to prohibit the Biergarten from hosting entertainment" petition on from owner Dan McMichael.

"For the past 17 years, it has been my privilege and honor to own and operate The Rathskeller Restaurant. With the help of an incredible staff, supportive friends and family and a welcoming community, we have created one of the best and most amazing restaurants, special events and entertainment facilities — including the popular Biergarten — in the heart of downtown Indianapolis.

When I first took ownership in 1995, I invested my own sweat, tears and dollars into a worn down building and created what it is today. At that time, I cleaned, repaired, remodeled and restored The Rathskeller Restaurant to its integrity. I expanded the restaurant menu, improved food service, enhanced customer service and created remarkable event and venue space.

As a downtown resident and business owner, the transformation of The Rathskeller Restaurant has truly been a dream come true for me. Sadly, the Athenaeum Foundation is threatening to shut down the beloved Biergarten — the very space that has become a tradition to the Indianapolis community. The Foundation has notified me that I can no longer provide live music, entertainment and operate in the Biergarten as of July 1.

I refuse to give up on my dream. The Rathskeller and Biergarten are my livelihood, my family, my history and my future — and to have this happen on the anniversary of my 17th year is devastating. However, I will not rest until I have done absolutely everything in my power to not have the tradition of the entertainment end."

There are two sides to every story, and then there is a third: whatever the various lawyers involved right now are talking about.

That being said, the Athenaeum is a gem in Downtown Indianapolis and should be protected, treasured and sat upon. Read more about ongoing efforts to protect the historic site (home of the NUVO Cultural Vision Awards and just down the road from the NUVO's Mass Ave Crit). The bands that perform inside the Biergarten get amazing exposure and provide a great, affordable and fun entertainment option in one of Indy's most exciting cultural districts. This editor's official stance on the matter? Aufiderzein, drama. I hope the Athenaeum and Rathskeller are able to work this out and come to an amicable agreement in the very near future.

All of that being said, kudos to the Indy Star for a really excellent and alliterative pun in the title of the article released earlier this morning.


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