Photo Courtesy of Evan Finch

The matchbook above, likely from the 1950’s or 1960’s, advertises for Knobby’s Drive-In, a mainstay in Indianapolis’ mid-20th century drive-in scene.  The original Knobby’s, located at 52nd and Keystone, was founded in 1951 by William A. “Knobby” Knoll, a veteran who served in the Navy during WWII.  A second location, at 38th and Shadeland, opened later, and featured a Polynesian-themed menu.  The Knobby’s at 52nd and Keystone closed in 2001, and a BP is now in that location.  The 38th and Shadeland location changed names and management for a few years but is also closed, and for a time served as a location for Steven Anderson’s A-OK Karate.  Mr. Knoll passed away in 2010, and is interred in the Washington Park North Cemetery.

11 responses to “Sunday Adverts: Knobby’s Drive-In”

  1. Alice Roettger says:

    Prior to locating to 52nd and Keystone, Knobby’s stood on the south side of 38th Street, just across from or a little to the west of the entrance to the State Fair.

  2. Jessica Ballard says:

    Thanks for the confirmation of that location, Alice. I saw it mentioned once while doing my research, but could not get confirmation. I believe the Wigwam (later the Tee Pee) was also in that general vicinity?

  3. DavidE says:

    The Tee Pee was at the southeast corner of the state fair grounds. Corner of 38th and Fall Creek.

  4. Alice Roettger says:

    Yes, the Teepee was located at that intersection. Knobby’s was farther west and just to the east of the well-known Parkmoor restaurant and drive-in. A group of us giddy high-schoolers (about 1952) deicded to liven up our winter break by eating progressive-dinner fashion at all three: a hamburger at one, French fries at another, and a drink at the last one.

  5. Lonny says:

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  6. Gina koster says:

    Is there any actual pic of the knobby’s on shadeland? I would love to be able to get one. My father proposed to my mother there and just celebrated their 50th anniversary.

  7. Scott Wagner says:

    I remember eating at Knobby’s on Shadeland as a child with my family. It was a very distinctive landmark building. I drove by it not long ago. Sad to see its vacant and neglected.

  8. Anonymous says:


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  10. Stan Knobby knoll says:

    The Knobby‘s on Shadeland was the second store that was formed Keystone was the last one

  11. Kent bond says:

    In 1955-1959 I lived on Guilford Avenue just above 38th Street and (at the time) within walking/bicycling distance of the fairground. One of my great joys at the time was bing taken to Knobby’s for a pork tenderloin sandwich I still recall.

    By the way, I still recall my first grade teacher as P.S. 66, then on 38th street, Miss Eddy. Since then I’ve lived in eight foreign countries and at least 10 state but I still recall the Indianapolis of the 1950s

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