Art house cinema, restaurant to debut in Windsor Park

Susan Orr •

An art house cinema and restaurant that have been in the works for more than two years are set to open in early 2020 in the Windsor Park neighborhood.

The Kan-Kan Cinema and Brasserie will occupy a new, 14,500-square-foot building at 1258 Windsor St., a block east of the intersection of East Brookside and Commerce avenues.

About three-fourths of the two-story building will house four movie theaters. The largest of the four will have 146 seats. The smallest is a 12-seat screening room.

The rest of the space will be devoted to a European brasserie-style restaurant operated by Abbi Merriss, the chef and co-owner of the Fletcher Place restaurant Bluebeard. Patrons can visit Kan-Kan to eat at the restaurant, watch a movie or both.

“We’re trying to create an environment for people to socialize and talk about film,” said Ed Battista, who developed the project along with his father, Tom, and business partner and film enthusiast Sam Sutphin.

The not-for-profit Indianapolis Film Project was created to own the building. Executive director for the organization is Louise Henderson, who was the festival director of the Heartland Film Festival in 2013 and has held numerous film- and festival-related positions since then. Local film-maker Daniel Arthur Jacobson will serve as the organization’s programming director.

The Kan-Kan will focus on first-run independent films and will screen movies seven days a week, Battista said, but it will also offer film-related educational programming. “Film education is a big part of our mission.”

For instance, the Kan-Kan plans to host film discussions and perhaps a series in which local film professors talk about a topic and show relevant examples from films.

Battista said the organization also plans to form a community advisory board whose members will provide input on programming.

“We’ve studied other models around the country, and the ones that really do this right connect with their communities,” Battista said.

Battista said the Kan-Kan is shooting for an opening in late February or early March.

The Battistas, local real estate developers who are known for repurposing old buildings, had originally intended to renovate the former Christian Unity Missionary Baptist Church for use as the Kan-Kan. But after discovering the church was in worse shape than expected, the team decided last year to tear down the church and start from scratch. Opting for new construction made the project much more expensive than the $1 million to $2 million the team originally projected in 2017.

Battista declined to reveal the total project cost, saying that it was more than $6 million but less than $10 million.

Oh, and about the Kan-Kan name: It comes from the Kurt Vonnegut novel “Cat’s Cradle.” Vonnegut coined the term to describe something that brings a person into a group whose members share a deep connection.

Originally published in Indianapolis Business Journal.