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INDIANAPOLIS — It’s been months since many businesses in downtown Indianapolis have been filled with customers.

Just as coronavirus restrictions were eased, some restaurants and stores were boarding up windows after protests turned violent. After months of disruptions, one business owner said downtown Indy needs help or it may never be the same.

In downtown Indianapolis this is the new normal — board up businesses trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and a weekend of riots in late May that left windows broken and businesses looted with fewer customers.

“It’s slow. Very slow,” Chris Karnavas, owner of Jack’s Donuts, said. “People are still nervous about coming downtown.”

Karnavas had a front row seat watching downtown Indy go from lively to ghost town. Karnavas owns Jack’s Donuts on Market Street. his donut shop was the first business to be damaged when peaceful protests turned into violent riots on May 29. He said business downtown is slowly increasing but believes the economic damage is already done.

“We’ve lost a lot of business downtown,” Karnavas said. “I think when this shakes down we’re gonna end up with a lot of empty real estate.”