Indy Like a Local
Who is Tommy?
Owner of James Dant–Purveyors of Men’s Goods in Irvington
Q. What prompted you to open James Dant? And who is “James”?
I dreamed of owning a men’s clothing store from a fairly young age. The catalyst to making that dream a reality was majoring in entrepreneurship at Ball State. The program was pretty rigorous, but made me realize I had no intention of doing anything else when I graduated. James is my middle name. My official given name is Thomas James Dant II. I wanted to put my name on the front door as a form of having skin in the game, but also wanted to keep my own identity. So I used my middle name and, to be honest, it just has a better ring to it than Tommy Dant.
Photo credit: Rebecca Shehorn
Q. What are some of your personal favorite brands or items you carry?
It’s really hard for me to put my thumb on just a few items. It feels like I fall in love with a new brand every few months. I’ve always had a thing for well-built basics. For tees, you can’t beat the heavy bag tee from 3sixteen. For the most solid sweats, Reigning Champ is great. And I’ll never stop being a denim head. Our brand Naked & Famous makes some of the most unique denim in the world. I’m really a clotheshorse, so those are the things I go to first. I mention this only to say that we have some of the most incredible fragrances, hard goods, and accessories to complement the clothing.
Q. What are some of your favorite restaurants in Indy, and why? Any specific menu items you would recommend?
We love to eat. One of our favorites is Livery. Don’t skip on the street corn in the summer. Pro tip: Have them shave it off the cob. For brunch, no one has toppled Milktooth yet. Don’t know that they ever will. The Dutch baby pancakes and loaded grits are over-the-top delicious. R&R Extreme Wings is one of the city’s hidden gems. Go for the founder’s special and have them put the garlic parmesan on the fries. Beholder is fantastic for a meal but don’t skip on the cocktails.
Q. Do you have an oft-visited coffee shop?
Coat Check Coffee and Provider are seriously incredible coffee shops. I’ve been to major cities from the West Coast to the East Coast and several places in Europe over the past five years. Very few shops stack up to what those guys are doing. And we’re so excited to be getting their third location in Irvington. My coffee budget is about to go through the roof.
Q. Any performing-arts organizations you like to support or a favored concert venue?
The Hilbert Circle Theatre has my heart. The symphony series they did with Harry Potter and Star Wars were both incredible.
Q. Where might you take out-of-town visitors for an authentic Indy experience?
I’m not sure that Indy has any greater authentic experience than the Indy 500. Carb Day is a guilty pleasure.
Q. Where else in Irvington do you like to visit?
I love Black Acre. Their new beer garden is pretty fantastic. For a delicious milkshake, you can pop across the street to Wyliepalooza. The Legend has a fantastic burger. I also spend a ton of time in Ellenberger Park.
Q. What events are always on your calendar?
Summer concerts at the Amphitheater at White River State Park are a must. I also always try to catch First Fridays. It’s tough to hit all 12, but we try. Our go-to is the Harrison Center. We always hit up Devour Indy. And you can’t skip on the things Oreo Jones or Action Jackson put on. Those guys are doing amazing things for Indy’s music scene.