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
My husband and I would meet at the Glendale Huddle at 11 pm some nights for coffee. He was going to night classes at IUPUI and it was the only time to see each other when we were first dating back in 1968. There were few places that were open 24/7…lots of other college students could be found at the Huddle before and after class. Coffee was cheap and free flowing. Lots of fond memories …. we’ve been married 47 yrs !
Huddle’s food always tasted good, anytime!
I used to hang out at the Devington Huddle in 1963-67, after Arlington High School let out at 3pm. It was a short walk from school with a cut through Haag’s to stock up on candy. Us kids would huddle 8-10 or more around a large table while savoring cokes and french fries, and laughing and chattering like the teen agers we were. My favorite was a cherry coke with cream. We had a blast at the Huddle, it was a great place to have fun and unwind between the demands of the classroom and the boredom of home. We were lucky that the Huddle tolerated us rowdy kids, they never complained.
Although I am somewhat younger than you (went to Brookpark Elementary around the corner from Devington Plaza), I doubt if you guys were rowdy at all in comparison to kids today. 🙂 That’s why you were tolerated.
The Huddle i remember sat at 38th and Post in front of the old North Eastwood Shopping Center. I haven’t been in that neighborhood in years but you can still see the building in street view on Google maps. It sits behind the pizza place on the southwest corner of the intersection. Sign on the roof read Dental Office.
What was the address of the location in Twin Aire? Thanks — Brad
I’m showing the Twin Aire location listed at 2901 Southeastern Ave. Thank you for reading!
Thanks Jeff! — Brad
Huddle Systems was owned by William H Ball Jr.. Ball was of the famous Ball family of industrialists in Muncie from which Ball State was named. I am not certain how many Huddles he owned nationwide but it was more than 20. William Ball Jr. was also President of Huddle Systems,Huddle Systems filed bankruptcy in 1979. He was also President of Haag Drugs and help finance Moxley’s purchase of Haag Drugs in the 50’s. Moxley was a son in law of William H Ball Sr., one of the five original Ball brothers The Huddle Embers was indeed tied into the Embers Restuarant. The Embers was also owned by Mr. Ball. For whatever reason Mr. Ball left Muncie and the Ball Corporation to live in Indianapolis along with his his wife in the 1950’s. They were both very prominant in society and business affairs of Indianapolis. Mr. Ball also owned the first Volkswagon dealership in Indianapolis on West 16th Street which became Speedway Volkswagon back in my day. Mr. Ball had a very interesting life even doing a stint with the CIA after serving WWII.
Thank you so much for clearing this up for people! Bill is my late grandfather and I think people should know how influential he was in Indianapolis!
My brother Don Eberhard met his wife Gloria Eberhard when he worked (managed I think) the Huddle on the north side (Nora I think). They were married like 35 when he died in 2010.
Don did manage the Huddle at 5329 West Washington St in about 1970-71. It was attached to Haag Drug with an open doorway between. He was really short handed one day and talked me into washing dishes using that big square pull down machine. It was wet, sloppy, disgusting, and funny as h—. Hot sweaty work but I loved helping my big brother and we laughed our heads off.
I hope this is not spooky, but my name is Don Eberhard, and I live in San Jose. CA.
Although I can’t claim to have run a fantastic eatery, the menu I serve I refer to as “Habitat for Compassion”. It’s a high energy mix of selflessly paying goodwill to others forward.
If you are comfortable with providing me with your email, I’d be pleased to send you some particulars.
Incidentally, this morning I caught a TV program about another guy with a name likeness who designs the artwork for US currency. His name is Don Eberhart . His last name end with a T versus D. The initials DE appear on many coins he personally designed.
I Googled his name and came up with a scenario about your Don Eberhard who has found eternal peace.
San Jose, CA
I forgot my brother Don Eberhard had previously cooked at a Indianapolis north side Huddle and that is where he actually met his to be wife Gloria Cain.
I don’t have the same late night experience, but as a kid in the 60’s my family would eat at the Devington Plaza Huddle. I most remember the pancakes, and watching the chef’s cook over flame on the grill. As written in the article, I remember the connection to the Ace Hardware store and the direct inside walk-through that went past a wood phone booth on the right. The old Ace was a cool store. At this time of year I remember being fascinated by the aluminum Christmas Tree and the color wheel that Ace had in the window. Lots of great memories.