The interior of a Huddle restaurant awaiting eager diners. (Image: Evan Finch)
A twenty-four hour restaurant tends to bring out some of the more interesting examples of mankind, especially in the wee hours of the morning. A mix of shift workers, college procrastinators, and weekend revelers trying to sober up on coffee and greasy fare can be found in the vinyl clad booths in area restaurants such as Steak ‘n Shake, Denny’s, and IHOP. While today’s examples tend to be corporate giants, Indy once had a destination where locals cured those 3 A.M. omelet cravings.
The Huddle Restaurants (not to be confused with the Georgia-based Huddle House) proudly boasted breakfast all day at locations on every side of the city. Founded in the late Fifties by Orville Stonebreaker, these family style restaurants were often paired with Haag Drugstores, much like the Knife & Fork relationship with Hook’s. Featuring a long stool-lined counter, hot coffee, and a menu full of greasy delights, a Huddle would be the perfect oasis for the night owl. This local chain had restaurants at 56th and Illinois Streets; Devington Plaza; Twin Aire Plaza; 62nd Street and Keystone Avenue; and in Nora. The location at 2034 North Meridian had to be hopping when the area nightclubs let out. Directories refer to it as Embers Huddle, although no direct tie-in with the adjacent night club has been revealed.
The restaurants were popular throughout the Sixties and are still fondly remembered by residents of that era, despite their fade into obscurity. The 1975 city directory lists Twin Aire as the sole remaining location and by 1976, even that was gone. In 1979, the Illinois Street Food Emporium opened in the former Huddle at 56th and Illinois Streets, where it continues to thrive today. Most of the shopping centers are still around in some form, though the Meridian Street location only huddles parking for Citizen’s Energy. Haag’s Drugs were purchased by People’s Drugs by 1980 and later consumed by CVS.
If you were wondering, the Stonebreaker family is still active in the restaurant business, as owners of the recently relocated Murphy’s Steakhouse at 52nd and Allisonville Road. What late night memories do you have from being in the Huddle?
Polk’s City Directory, 1959, 1961, 1972, 1975, 1976
The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 1994
Indianapolis Star, August 13th 2014