[Historic Bars] The Slippery Noodle Inn: A Local Joint With a National Name

Posted on: June 26th, 2014 by Steven Piccione

Continuing our historic bars series, we take a look at the Slippery Noodle Inn, a well-known yet still genuine local bar in Indianapolis.

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The ceiling of the front bar is made of pressed tin and was installed around 1890. The "tiger oak" bar and the bar in the back are more than 100 years old as well.

"When a tourist comes to Indianapolis and asks where to grab a drink, they'll probably be told to go to the Slippery Noodle," says Sara Etherington, office manager of the historic Indiana watering hole.

With live music seven nights a week, a loyal constituent of thirsty locals, and the distinction of being the longest continuously operating bar in Indiana, "the Noodle" boasts a unique mix of having a well-known status and a consistent down-to-earth reputation.

"People like something local and unique," says Etherington. "It's one-of-a-kind."

Certainly the Noodle's famous breaded pork tenderloin, its half-priced Thursdays (a favorite among the locals, according to Etherington), and the every-night live music bring in the patrons, but the bar's appeal is rooted in something deeper than a savvy business model and a charming atmosphere: its history.

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The Slippery Noodle Inn has won more than 20 awards from such publications as Rolling Stone, Details, and Indianapolis Monthly.

Founded in 1850 as the Tremont House, the name soon changed in the 1860s to the Concordia House, in honor of the ship that brought the first German Lutheran immigrants. During the Civil War, the bar became a rendezvous point for the Underground Railroad.

After several changes to its name -- and ownership -- the bar became Moore's Restaurant during Prohibition and then Moore's Beer Tavern when the ban ended in 1935. Fast forward to 1963 to the current ownership, Harold and Lorean Yeagy, who acquired the bar on Friday the 13th and gave it its current name: the Slippery Noodle Inn, a name that was the product of a Yeagy family debate that ended in a vote at 5:00 a.m.

Credit: Sara Etherington, Slippery Noodle Inn
The Slippery Noodle Inn is housed in the oldest commercial building in Indianapolis. The sign for the Tremont House -- the original name -- on the north side of the building dates back to the 1850s.

Fifty years later, and the Noodle is now one of the premiere blues clubs in the Midwest and a local staple of Indianapolis, playing host to an impressive Rolodex of renowned musicians: Luther Allison, Jay Giles, Buddy Miles, and Johnny Clyde Copeland to name a few. (That's not to mention visits by Jimmy Fallon, Tim Tebow, Michael Bublé, Spike Lee, and Liza Minnelli, some of the many celebrities on a seemingly endless list.)

When asked how the Noodle is able to keep its name fresh in the area to maintain its thriving business, Etherington says, "We'll always have live music. ... We rarely advertise."

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Steven Piccione

Steven Piccione

Steven Piccione is an Editorial Intern at the National Trust. He enjoys carbonated water, all things British, and living in a city warmer than Chicago. Follow him on Instagram at @stebbsjp.

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