Guns, gangs, great blues: Slippery Noodle celebrates a milestone 

click to enlarge The Slippery Noodle - HANNAH SWITZER
  • The Slippery Noodle
  • Hannah Switzer

This milestone is a bit of a misnomer – after all, the Slippery Noodle is far older than this weekend's 50th anniversary party would have attendees believe. In fact, this Indy institution is over 150 years old. But set that aside for a bit while we tell you about the Yeagy family's 50 years at the Noodle.

None have seen more changes come to the city of Indianapolis than current owner Hal Yeagy – excluding the building that houses his bar, The Slippery Noodle Inn, which celebrates its 50th Anniversary under ownership of the Yeagy family. His accommodating business and the city's inviting atmosphere for conventions and sports have resulted in a strong relationship – after all, the Noodle is just steps from Lucas Oil Stadium.

"I like the direction that this city is going and I hope they don't screw it up," Yeagy says grinning one day in early October as we chat inside his bar, the oldest continuously operating in the state.

The Noodle became his in 1984 – the same year Indy acquired the Colts that now play a few blocks away – when Yeagy's father Harold passed away. Yeagy quit his job and took over the bar his father had purchased in 1963, and helped to support his mother, Lorean.

"He had always been very outgoing. You know, some people can tell a joke and it doesn't matter how they tell it, it's funny?" Yeagy says of his father.

Under the Yeagy family the Noodle started hosting live music. Hal added his personal collection of records to the jukebox. Now, live performances have expanded to every night of the week, making The Slippery Noodle the hottest blues destination in the region, with performances from James Cotton and Luther Allison, amongst so many others.

But back to those early days. From the beginning of the building's history, or at least what we can find of it: a great flood caused damage to many of the government buildings in the Downtown area in the early 1900s. Now, where the year of construction should be printed on the placard for The Slippery Noodle Inn, there is instead a curious question mark.

Like most seemingly ancient things, the building is the subject of legends and rumors. Here's what we know: it was once a hideout for John Dillinger's gang, whose target practice is evidenced in marks that dot the wall of the main stage room (then a stable). The building was a German roadhouse, a stop on the Underground Railroad, a dump called Boris's Place and a brothel – which closed after a man was stabbed in a fight over one of the women employed. The assailant allegedly laying the bloody dagger on the bar counter as he left. Now, Yeagy keeps a room set up with furniture and décor dated to the early 1900s.

For their 50th Anniversary, a musical celebration from Oct. 17-20, the Noodle will host several acts including Tad Robinson, Indigenous and Robert Randolph and the Family Band. The Noodle will be releasing a compilation of tunes recorded within its seasoned walls, Live From the Noodle Vol. 4, a CD set that features some of the most lively performances the bar has seen.

Now with a third generation of the Yeagy family involved in the business – three of Yeagy's five children work at the bar – the future of The Slippery Noodle Inn is tied to the future of our city. Yeagy doesn't want a bigger city, but he wants Indianapolis to become a destination for travelers, like it has for Gen Con.

"We get a lot of major concerts coming through. We have a pretty fair arts district. We have a lot of great restaurants," Yeagy says. "I want the city to be something. Nobody wants to live in a no-name city."

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