Hi Neighbor Tavern badly damaged by fire

Hi Neighbor Tavern damaged in fire. (IFD)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Flames and smoke shot from the roof during a big fire overnight at the Hi Neighbor Tavern.

The Indianapolis Fire Department said no one was inside, no one was hurt and they were able to put the fire out in less than an hour. The damage from the fire was significant.

The fire started just hours after Tuesday's usual "bike night" ended.

"The flames, you could feel the heat, oh my goodness," said Elisa Rattle, who walked down the street from her house when she heard the sirens.

Fire crews estimate nearly half a million dollars in damage to the old-school watering hole, which has been in Indy for 81 years.

Investigators say the building likely can be salvaged.

The fire itself started in the attic and although the specific cause isn't known yet, investigators determined it is not criminal.

Several customers rode up on their Harleys Wednesday to take in the damage and share stories of why this bar means so much to so many.

"It was kind of a big pit in my stomach because I like this place and I like the people," said customer Pam Jones.

The Hi Neighbor Tavern is a quintessential biker bar with cheap drinks, rich conversation and regulars who feel like family.

"It's a bunch of good people," Jones said. "Everybody's got good souls here."

"We're in here all the time. It is like family," added customer Don Lockhart. "I couldn't tell you how many beers, tattoos from here, parties and stuff. Oh yeah, we've had a lot of good times here."

Even if you don't ride a motorcycle, you know the place at 10th and Tibbs.

For years, the Hi Neighbor gave runners a beer for the road during the Mini Marathon: liquid carbs to carry them through the race.

The tavern's hosted countless charity rides and fundraisers for Hoosiers in need.

It's also been in need itself.

An SUV crashed into the bar in 2017, forcing major renovations.

"They had that all redone, all the wood was hand-carved in there," Jones recalled, "And everything redone when the car went through it."

Customers hope the owners can recover from fire, too.

"Oh I'd say yes... they'll rebuild it back up. They don't give up easy," Lockhart said with a laugh.

This is a neighbor they don't want to lose.

Filed under: