Take a stroll down memory lane to an Indianapolis where fine dining was coveted, dining and drive-ins had a touch of class, and an organ entertained guests at a family-friendly restaurant with this list of restaurants many still lack in the area. city.
The list includes a few restaurants that haven’t been closed for a long time but are missed nonetheless. While not an exhaustive list, it is sure to bring back fond memories to many Hoosiers.
These 24-hour diners were spread across five locations across Indy with a versatile menu that included pancakes and waffles all day, sandwiches, salads, burgers, seafood, and steaks. Huddles restaurants were first opened in the late 1950s and were popular throughout the 1960s before the last one closed in 1976.
LS Ayres tea room
The eighth floor of the downtown LS Ayres & Co. department store was set aside for a luxurious dining experience for anyone who wanted to be served by waiters in crisp uniforms and clean their sticky fingers in bowls filled with water and petals. of rose. The tea room chicken salad, chicken velvet soup, and chicken pie were guest favorites. Children would look forward to a special children’s “hobo lunch” wrapped in a bandana, clown ice cream, Snow Princess dessert, and paper-wrapped treats from the treasure chest if they were wise. The tearoom closed in 1990, but the Indiana State Museum has recreated the Ayres tearoom with similar menu items. It is open to the public during the holidays and available for private events all year round.
Tee Pee Restaurants
The first Tee Pee restaurant opened in the 1930s on Fall Creek Parkway on land now owned by the State Fairgrounds. Co-owner Albert Ray McComb wanted to create an on-site, take-out and drive-through restaurant that would attract customers despite the Depression. The restaurant was known for the large tee-pee on top of its rooftop and was open from 6:30 am to 1:30 am, “practically 24 hours a day,” as an article in a 1969 issue of IndyStar commented. Their specialties were burgers, seafood, steak, a special dressing and a fresh pie. The drive-in trend spread after WWII, especially with teenagers coming to Tee Pee restaurant after school or on weekends to hang out. McComb opened a Nora neighborhood location in the south and short-lived on the north side of town. But as the ’70s hit, drive-ins started to go out of style and all Tee Pee locations closed in the early’ 80s.
Key West Shrimp House
Key West Shrimp House opened in 1950 on the south side near Manual High School to give landlocked Hoosiers a taste of the sea. The restaurant served dill pickles, garlic bread and the lobster bisque at every meal and had circular windows that looked like portholes, making customers feel like they were on a boat. Key West had other locations in Anderson, Bloomington, Madison, and Gas City. The location in Madison still stands.
The country’s first Burger Chef restaurant opened in Indianapolis in 1957. This fast food restaurant grew into a national chain with over 1,000 establishments at its peak in the early 1970s. They were known for their Big Chef double burger. and their Super Chef quarter pounder. As they expanded, they also offered customizable burgers. For the kids, they imagined the Funmeal, which included stories about the restaurant’s mascot Burger Chef and his sidekick Jeff. McDonald’s Happy Meals weren’t invented yet. Hardee’s parent company purchased Burger Chef in 1982, and some Burger Chef restaurants have been converted to Hardee’s.
Supreme Music Palace
This restaurant was built around one of the largest theater organs in the country, nicknamed “Mighty Wurlitzer”. Hailing from the Paramount Theater in Oakland, Calif., The organ was purchased by buyers in Indianapolis and rebuilt into the restaurant in 1978. The restaurant was more focused on the organ performance experience than on the pizzas and pasta they served. The music ranged from Star Wars to sentimental ballads and the organists were treated like rock stars.
This British-style pub existed for almost three decades before closing in 2011. In the current Big Lug Canteen building in the northern Nora district, the restaurant was given a makeover thanks to the Food Network show “Restaurant Impossible” with Chef Robert Irvine in May. 2011 which included improving the decor and adding more British dishes to the menu of soups, salads, steaks, seafood and sandwiches. But the restaurant couldn’t keep up after the changes and closed in October of the same year.
The glass fireplace
Austrian chef Dieter Puska opened the Glass Fireplace in Carmel in 1976 and ran the restaurant for 32 years. A fine dining establishment, guests returned to the glass fireplace for Puska’s cuisine time and time again, even though some entrees were over $ 40.
John and Mildred Clark opened the first Roselyn Bakery in 1943. The bakery expanded to over 40 locations and was best known for its Sweetheart Coffee Cake, Zebra Square Brownies, and Blackout Cake. The Bakery’s Bakery was closed in 1999 for violation of the health code, but was restarted under a new owner in 2005. Roselyn Treats can be found in the Indiana Krogers today. You can still see the remains of Roselyn bakeries around town by looking for V-shaped flying signs.
This pizza chain had a few locations around Indy from the late 60s until the 80s. They served pizza, fried chicken, pasta, garlic bread, potatoes, soups and salads and were billed as a family restaurant, but adults could also enjoy beer and wine with their meals. Old articles from IndyStar show that a banjo and piano band entertained guests on certain nights of the week, and old silent movie comedies played on restaurant TVs during the day. Later, the sports were broadcast on their televisions on Monday evening.
Sam’s Subway Restaurant Group
Sam Hochman launched Sam’s Subway on East 28th Street and Meridian where he sold kosher cold cuts on New York style bread as well as coffee, pastries, a “dark bottom” pie and his famous cheesecake. He and his sons developed in the 1950s and 1960s, opening several restaurants in the city, including a cafeteria-style restaurant at the Eastgate Shopping Center; a chic club and restaurant at Meadows Shopping Center; a restaurant at Glendale Shopping Center; Miller’s as well as Caves n ‘Caverns, a restaurant where patrons would have their own little dining enclave in a maze of tunnels creating the cave dining experience. Sam’s Subway went bankrupt in 1978.
The original Acapulco Joe’s
Originally located on the west side of the crossroads of Vermont and Illinois streets and later moved to 365 N. Illinois St., Acapulco Joe’s opened in 1960 and was one of the first Mexican restaurants in ‘Indianapolis. Joe Rangel, the original owner, was originally from the Mexican state of Guanajuato, but was so patriotic to his new country that he played God Bless America at noon every day in his restaurant. Rangel’s proceeds are said to have survived after Rangel’s death in 1988 and the change of ownership to Grant Redmond. After Redmond closed Acapulco Joe’s in 2019, Ezequiel Fuentes, the owner of El Toro in Zionsville, took over the space on Illinois Street and said he would continue to make Rangel’s revenue.
Contact IndyStar Pulliam Fellow Lilly St. Angelo at [email protected]