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Edwards Drive-in, closing after 64 years, thanks customers

The beloved restaurant on the southeast side of Indianapolis closed this month after more than six decades of business.

INDIANAPOLIS — The owner of a beloved Indianapolis restaurant that's closing its doors after more than 60 years in business is saying thank you to customers.

Edwards Drive-In on Sherman Drive is known for tasty tenderloins, coney dogs and root beer. The 1950s decor and jukebox added to the charm of the place that's been run by the same family since the start.

But like so many restaurants, the pandemic took its toll, ending the long run of this iconic Indy diner.

Jeff Edwards, the restaurant's operations manager, walked around the now-empty restaurant, pointing out the etched artwork, made especially for the diner: Marilyn Monroe and Elvis, early model automobiles, records, guys in penny loafers and girls in bobby socks.

"I'd really like for this to find a home," Edwards said about the largest piece of glass that's now for sale. "These are unique pieces, you know? That means a lot."

The '50s-style diner has been a staple on Indy's southeast side for six decades.

"Sixty-four years, yeah, this would have been the 65th," Edwards said. "I've been working here for 48 years myself, so I started real young."

RELATED: Edwards Drive-In closes after 64 years in business

Over those years, Edwards Drive-in has been serving up classic menus and memories for generations of customers.

"We've had first dates, you know, engagements, anniversaries," Edwards reminisced.

But the family-run business that survived three fires and two tornadoes got put down by the pandemic. The family was forced to sell.

It is with great sorrow we announce that Edwards Drive-In has permanently closed. Our last day of operation was January...

Posted by Edwards Drive-In on Wednesday, January 12, 2022

"With the rising food costs and the lack of labor and all those things, how do you maintain it? We had one application in four months. One," Edwards said. "We were losing a considerable amount of money just trying to hold on. The reality of it all set in and we said we gotta do something quick."

Edwards said the decision to close was never about the customers.

The diner got worldwide attention from television food shows. Booths were always full of locals, business was good. 

And that, Edwards said, is the toughest part.

Since the doors closed Jan. 8, he's heard from so many customers saddened by the closure. Some who have dined here even came back to the parking lot, even though the place was all locked up.

Those are the stories that make Edwards get emotional.

"One older lady came by. She said, 'This was my normal Thursday stop,'" he said. "She goes, 'I just automatically came here. I don't know where to go.' Since her husband had passed, she'd been eating here every Thursday for the last ten years. One of those days where you go ... 'this is when it's really tough.'"

Credit: WTHR
The restaurant is selling some of the items from inside the building, including the custom etched glass.

But Edwards stressed this isn't goodbye, it's "See you soon." 

The diner is coming back in food truck form. They started a food truck when Indy hosted the Super Bowl in 2012. Now, that will be their main source of business.

They'll have a smaller menu, a bit different service, but the same tradition so many have grown to love.

"We didn't sell the brand. We retained all that. We just sold the shell. We didn't sell its soul," Edwards said, tearing up. "We'll take that with us."

If you'd like to purchase the glass artwork, an Edwards Drive-In t-shirt or an aluminum tray that was used to serve food in people's cars, you can contact the diner through its Facebook page. That's also where they're posting updates on the food truck business.

If anyone has pictures of the Restaurant over the years and would like to share them please attach them to this post. After the fire in 2006 many of ours were destroyed.

Posted by Edwards Drive-In on Saturday, January 15, 2022

Plus, they're asking people to share pictures of the restaurant through the years. Many of the family's own photos were lost to fire.