“There is such a wealth of jazz talent in Indiana!” — David Andrichik
David Andrichik isn’t a musician or an artist, but he has made life in Indianapolis better for many who are. “In a way it is kind of a blessing I’m not a musician. I can take a step back and appreciate the music and know that the business side of what I’m doing to create a venue for them is just as important.” Six nights a week, local musicians can be found playing all types of jazz at the Chatterbox Jazz Club. Andrichik is an architect — and though he doesn’t practice any longer, he is the “architect” of an urban cultural space that is also one of the city’s oldest jazz clubs. “There is such a wealth of jazz talent in Indiana!” Andrichik says.
The Chatterbox has been a central part in the development of Massachusetts Avenue as one of Indianapolis’ Cultural Districts. When Andrichik bought the club in 1982, there were few businesses on the avenue. Today there are numerous theaters, restaurants, specialty shops and galleries. Originally from Chicago, Andrichik had a vision to own a historic building in an urban area — it just happened that a bar came with it.
He recalls that “The plan was to create a space that I would be comfortable in, with events and amenities that I like — things that were lacking in the downtown when I moved here — and that other people would enjoy, too.” He began by promoting the live jazz that he personally enjoys.
The Chatterbox is known as much for the people it attracts as for the music performed there. Through his volunteer work in the community, Andrichik first met many of the customers who have become regulars: actors, lawyers, artists, teachers, journalists, bond brokers and construction workers who comfortably share tables and drinks with one another.
“People who live and work in urban areas are different and unique — they’re connected because of the locale,” Andrichik remarks. “It’s all a mix. We appreciate that and welcome that, and those who like that same kind of mix come here, too.”
This is reflected in whom he hires: All of Andrichik’s bartenders were customers first, and most of them are artists. And when the Box isn’t open, customers and staff often get together for “Chatter-bowling” and other planned outings.
And of course, there is the unique decor. Racing flags hang from the ceiling, a large Mr. Potato Head watches everything from the corner (“It has a certain patina that only things that have been in the Chatterbox for a long time acquire.”), the back bar is covered in photographs and mementos left from customers and the rest of the bar (and the refrigerator, and the infamous bathrooms) are covered in customers’ graffiti, which Andrichik enjoys.
“We have a great treasure of the written word all over the bar,” he says.
There are even some original works of art on the wall if you look close enough, but it is the lighting that sets the mood. Christmas lights year round and red theatrical gels over the fluorescent lights give the Box its warm glow. There is a reason for this. As the architect says, “Everyone looks good when they come into the Chatterbox.”
— M. Travis DiNicola