A few weeks ago, I was invited to visit Jillian’s restaurant by Kelly Sherwood, their promotions & marketing manager. So my business partner, Paul, and I decided to pay it a visit, since it was only a few blocks from the office. I had only been to Jillian’s once before, so we walked over expecting a nightclub that served lunch in the daytime.
Man, was I wrong. This has got to be one of the coolest places ever! I’m not kidding when I say it’s got something for everyone. Rather than try to weave this all into some clever narrative, I’m just going to give you the bullet points, because everything Kelly showed me was one more eye-bugging, jaw-dropping piece of information.
- This is one of only 3 all ages nightclubs in Indy (the other two are the Spaghetti Factory and Hard Rock Cafe). On the main floor, they’ve got the main stage and an open air bar, where live bands will perform. And families and teenagers are still allowed in for the shows, even on weekends.
- There are more big screen TVs than you can possibly watch. Their smallest one is 64 inches. So if you go in during the day, you can not only watch sports, but they have videos from their very own video library.
- Paul and I are becoming regulars for their $.35 buffalo wing Mondays. And since they’ve got so many TVs, we’re spending some time there watching the World Cup too. (My favorite are the Caribbean Jerk wings, Paul favors the regular buffalo sauce. We also thought the wings were better, bigger, and meatier than some restaurants that specialize in buffalo wings.)
- They have a pool room to the left of the open bar/dining area, and you can play free pool every Wednesday, or even play free pool over lunch, while you’re waiting for your food.
- For the tech geeks out there, remember how I just said “video library?” Imagine having 20,000 songs on your iPod. And imagine creating playlists for a party you’re holding by connecting your iPod to your stereo. Now imagine having 20,000+ videos on a huge computer, and playing those for your party on a bunch of big screen TVs. Kelly showed us the giant mega server and how it’s connected to the TVs to serve up a non-stop video party. I even got to pick a video to run in the playlist (I picked 9 Inch Nails “Closer” because I was feeling a little nostalgic for the 90s).
- As “Closer” played, we walked up to the second floor, where they have 25,000 (yes, that’s 25 thousand) square feet of video games, NASCAR driving simulators, air hockey, and more video games. You could spend an entire day playing the games, and still not finish them all.
- If there is anything cooler than a 25,000 square foot arcade, it’s the 8 lane bowling alley on the third floor. In fact, it’s the only bowling alley downtown. A lot of companies use it for a corporate team building meeting place, and in fact, there were two companies that were having meetings, lunch, and were bowling a few frames.
- On the 3rd floor are more sitting areas and TVs. One of the things Jillian’s will do is allow alumni groups, especially from non-Indiana or non-Big 10 schools to congregate in one of the sitting areas and watch their alma mater play football. Great for those Tennessee, Florida, and Ball State alums who just aren’t getting the football love from the other bars in the area.
- Kelly also said a lot of athletes and celebrities will rent out the third floor for private parties. After Duke won the Final Four this year, the entire team went to Jillian’s for the celebration, and it’s the same for other big events.
Jillian’s is a great place for anyone visiting the city, or anyone who wants something more than just a plate full of food for lunch. Kelly says Jillian’s is a huge favorite of the convention crowd, and anytime there’s a convention in town, they’re packed, with even bigger crowds for things like the Final Four. I can’t imagine what the Super Bowl is going to look like.
Photo: Erik Deckers