A Maven’s Guide to the Indianapolis International Airport

Exciting changes are afoot at the Indy airport, so whether you’re jetting off on a nonstop to Paris or slogging through another business travel workweek, here’s the inside scoop on where to nosh, sip, and splurge the next time you’re at IND.

The Indianapolis International Airport has been lauded as the Best Airport in North America for seven years running by the Airports Council International. But not being one to rest on their laurels, the Airport Authority Board has plans to revamp most of the shopping and dining options and has made a concerted effort to focus on local businesses and homegrown products.

Planned to roll out over a three-year span, the Authority Board’s “Concessions Refresh” initiative recently went into action with an opening of 14 stores, and throughout 2020 and 2021 there will be new places to shop and eat. So although the airport is losing favorites like Café Patachou, Qdoba, South Bend Chocolate Co., Champps, Au Bon Pain, and Auntie Anne’s, to name a few—their replacements are fresh and filled with local talent.

A couple of notable local gems will stay on: The ever-popular Harry & Izzy’s is not closing—it is actually expanding, with plans to add a raw bar, wine display, and cocktail sauce mixing station. You’ll still be able to get your popcorn fix, too: Just Pop In!, created by twin sisters and Indiana natives Mandy Selke and Carly Swift, will add a festive bubbles bar (did someone say pre-flight mimosas?) and drink pairings. Mandy and Carly had this to say about the changes: “We are so proud to have completed our first 10-year contract with the new Indianapolis International Airport and earning the next 10! Travelers will find themselves now being able to sit, sip, and enjoy in our newly renovated space as we bring in our beautiful wine and beer program. We are thrilled to redo our space in our fresh, sunny, and cheerful decor while playfully honoring our family, specifically our Grandpa Ed and his famous saying, ‘Glad you got to see me.’” 

In addition, Enroute Spa will expand to a larger, full-service location in Concourse A. Enroute is owned by Hoosier native and mother-of-three Erin Humphreys, who is also a partner in all of the Hudson Group stores at the airport. “We are incredibly excited to expand our wellness services at IND by adding a 740-square-foot spa just beyond gate A7. This new location will feature a beautifully updated brand with high-end design elements our savvy female Indy travelers are sure to love,” Humphrey says. “Table massage will be available in our fully enclosed private treatment area. Additionally, our manicures, pedicures and chair massages will all be available in convenient time options, and we are also adding new retail from local handicraft Indiana vendors.” 

So now that you know what’s staying, here are some highlights and photo renderings of what to get excited about at IND. And a little pro tip: If one of your favorite stores or restaurants is in a different terminal than your flight, don’t worry—after you pass through security, both Concourse A and B can be accessed via a common walkway.

BEFORE YOU GET TO SECURITY (AKA CIVIC PLAZA)

FAO Schwarz (now open):

Snag a surprise for the kiddos with this fun-filled offering from the iconic, revitalized toy store.

HotBox Pizza (Summer 2021):

This locally founded, quick-service pizza chain will stick to its roots and offer ready-made pizzas and its crave-able “breadstix.”

Indiana Pacers Courtside Club (Fall 2020):

You’ll feel like you’re at Bankers Life Fieldhouse when you eat at this memorabilia-adorned restaurant that is planning to feature some favorite dishes of Indiana Pacer players.

The Circle City Beer Garden (Summer 2021):

Centrally located in Civic Plaza, this beer garden will have wooden picnic tables so you can sit and enjoy the Indiana-made craft beers on tap, as well as tapas and appetizers for snacking.

CONCOURSE A

Ben’s Soft Pretzels (Summer 2020):

Originally from Elkhart, Indiana, these Amish-inspired soft pretzels are 100% addictive.

Bento Sushi (Spring 2020):

This Toronto-based sushi restaurant will be located in the middle of the concourse and plans to offer both made-to-order sushi and grab-and-go options. 

Bub’s Burgers (Spring 2020):

Founded in Carmel by Matt and Rachel Frey, Bub’s Burgers are hand-pattied from fresh ground chuck. 

Social Cantina (Summer 2021):

The end of the concourse will house Social Cantina, a hip-yet-inviting spot specializing in Modern Mexican street fare. Like the restaurant’s original location in Bloomington, this offshoot will boast more than 100 bottles of tequila and Mezcal, along with freshly squeezed lime margaritas, loads of taco options and house-made tortilla chips and salsas. 

Stacked Pickle (Summer 2020):

This family-friendly sports bar and sit-down restaurant chain, locally owned by former Indianapolis Colts linebacker and Super Bowl champ Gary Brackett, is opening a location in Concourse A that promises multiple TVs so you’ll never miss a minute of a must-watch game.

Tinker Coffee Co. (2021):

If you’re looking for an excellent cup of Joe, Indy favorite Tinker Coffee is the place to find it. Thankfully, there are two locations planned for the airport, one each in Concourse A and B. Steve Hall, co-founder of Tinker Coffee Co., shares this about the new stores: “We’re in the middle of an important shift in consumer preferences, with more and more people expecting and appreciating quality and craftsmanship no matter where they are…could be an airport, a sports stadium, you name it. Our goal with our airport locations will be to provide an exceptional coffee experience for our guests while still maintaining the speed and efficiency that is required in an airport setting. I think the look and feel of the space will be incredibly unique to travelers through our airport, and we can’t wait to share our vision with everyone very soon.”

Vineyard Vines (now open):

Feel like you’re vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard with a splurge from this classic clothing and accessory retailer, found near gate A7.

CONCOURSE B

Brighton (Spring 2020):

You’ll find a whimsical array of handbags, leather goods, and jewelry at this soon-to-open store.

MAC Cosmetics (now open):

Located near gate B8, this outpost of the popular makeup brand is ideal for snagging a Lipglass or Pro Longwear Concealer before your next getaway.

Shake Shack (Summer 2020):

If you don’t have a photo of a Shake Shack burger on your Instagram feed yet, now’s your chance. The much-hyped (for good reason, it’s delicious) burger chain will be coming this summer. Because it’s located beyond the security checkpoint, you’ll need a plane ticket to get your burger fix.

Sun King Brewery (Spring 2020):

This beloved Indianapolis-based microbrewery is planning a fun-for-all-ages offering, which co-founder Clay Robinson describes as “a family-friendly open beer garden concept that will overlook an all-new kids play area, so you can turn your kids loose while you enjoy a beer. We really want the vacation to start at the airport and not at the destination. We already had a really great airport, and this refresh with a focus on local is really going to take it to the next level.” 

The Farmers’ Market (Summer 2020):

The Farmers’ Market is an approximately 3,300-square-foot market and dining destination created with Indiana Grown, an Indiana Department of Agriculture initiative in partnership with the lieutenant governor’s office that encourages consumers to eat and buy local. One section of the market will feature a sit-down dining area with locally grown salads and hand-tossed pizzas, as well as a full-service menu from Indianapolis celebrity chef Greg Hardesty. You can wash everything down with a selection of local wines and craft beers, and there will also be locally sourced items available for purchase.

“The Farmers’ Market will give people from all over the world the chance to experience and enjoy a taste of Indiana,” says Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch. “We have everything from small-town favorites to top-selling national brands, and this market will allow us to share some of these products with the world.”

Tumi (now open):

This New Jersey-based manufacturer of swanky suitcases and travel bags is located near the TSA Checkpoint B screening area.

Concourse B will also include a second outpost of Ben’s Soft Pretzels (Summer 2020) and Tinker Coffee Co. (Summer 2020).

BAGGAGE CLAIM

Circle City News (now open):

With a nod to Indy’s nickname of the “Circle City,” this store offers up Indiana-themed gifts as well as travel essentials and grab-and-go food items.

Starbucks (now open):

In addition to three revamped locations with expanded seating that will be revealed in the next few months (one in Civic Plaza and another each in Concourse A and B), Starbucks has recently opened in baggage claim, giving you one last chance to snag a cuppa before you head out into the world. 

Stephanie Groves is an Indy-based freelance writer who is seriously considering buying a plane ticket so she can load up on burgers from Bub’s and Shake Shack.

Just Pop In! is an Indy Maven partner


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