There's always plenty of shifting happening inside the guts of the Murphy Arts Center, but this week's move is a big one. Pending inspections (which fall after press time), the MOKB Presents/DO317 team will close the doors to the DO317 Lounge on the second floor and open the doors to their new venue, The Hi-Fi.
"We like the neighborhood and we like the people around us," Josh Baker, co-owner and operator of MOKB Presents and DO317, says. "Craig [Von Deylen] and Larry [Jones] that run the Murphy have been really supportive of us, so when the opportunity came up to get that space, we jumped on it."
That space he's talking about was previously occupied by a vintage shop IndySwank; it's a Virginia Street-facing storefront snuggled between iMOCA and Pure Eatery that Baker describes as "bigger, but not by much" than the Lounge. Baker owns the Hi-Fi alongs with business partner Craig "Dodge" Lile; Spencer Hooks is the Hi-Fi's general manager and RJ Wall has been named bar manager. "It's still the same team," Baker says, "just moving downstairs."
Local designer Brian Presnell build and designed the space. "A lot of folks go with these super high end designers but we trust our vision to Brian who makes magic happen on a small budget," Baker says. "From an art standpoint he's one of the most overlooked artists in the local scene."
For right now, they'll continue to serve beer and wine, but they're perusing a liquor license that will allow them to serve hard liquor as well, with a goal to secure that by mid-June. The Hi-Fi, like the Lounge, will only be open only to those 21 and older. Baker acknowledged that, although he is interested in the idea of more all-ages spaces in Indianapolis, it's just not possible for The Hi-Fi.
"It's not feasible from a business standpoint. We can't sell enough water to keep it open," Baker says. "We all want more all-ages venues. I applaud people like the Hoosier Dome because they're doing it with no other incomes."
Baker and Lile will use The Hi-Fi as a space to grow bands new to Indianapolis, and give locals a space to play.
"For us, it's like a place where we can bring all of our newer bands who can't do the business at a bigger club," Baker says. "It's a good chance to get them in the market early, and then we grow them into a larger room."