Hollyhock Hill, one of city’s oldest eateries, changes ownership

Longtime Indianapolis restaurant Hollyhock Hill has changed hands, but the new owner pledges she won’t be making big changes to the north-side institution.

Kelly Haney of Indianapolis purchased Hollyhock Hill last month from husband-and-wife owners Jay and Barbara Snyder, who had owned the restaurant since 1992 and were ready for retirement.

The restaurant, which opened in 1928, is located at 8110 N. College Ave. It’s known for its family-style meal service and a homespun menu that includes fried chicken, seafood and steak dinners.

“It’s nothing like anything else in the city,” Haney said. “What I love is, it’s nostalgic. It’s been there since 1928. I’m a country girl. I love tradition.”

Haney said she plans a few tweaks to Hollyhock Hill’s menu and operations, while keeping the basics intact. 

Haney declined to say how much she paid for the 150-seat restaurant, but said the purchase included Hollyhock Hill’s recipes.

“I want my customers to know that I am carrying on the tradition,” said Haney, who herself is a long-time Hollyhock Hill customer.

The existing menu items, including the signature fried chicken, will remain, Haney said. But she plans to add some new items such as salmon, child-friendly choices and additional dessert options.

She also plans to open for dinner at 4 p.m. instead of 4:30 p.m.; to start offering brunch service on Saturdays and Sundays; and to make some updates to the interior of the restaurant. 

The changes should take place by the second quarter of 2017, Haney said.

Haney describes herself as a “foodie,” but she does not have prior experience running a restaurant.

That said, Haney said she’ll have the benefit of the restaurant’s 33 employees, many of whom have worked there for 15 years or more.

She’s also bringing in Chef Tommy Thompson, who was involved in the August opening of Salt on Mass seafood restaurant on Massachusetts Avenue.

“I’m not alone,” Haney said. 

Haney also owns a separate company, a business telecommunications broker called Lingotek Solutions Inc.

Haney said she will continue to run Lingotek, and her experience with that company will bring some useful knowledge to Hollyhock Hill.

For instance, she plans to update the restaurant’s website and add options for online reservations and ordering.

“I’m bringing some things to the table that maybe the former owners didn’t.”

The Snyders worked at Hollyhock Hill for decades before they purchased the business. The high-school sweethearts both started working there in the late 1950s as teenagersJay at 16 and Barbara at 14.

The Snyders bought the restaurant in 1992 from Hubert Kelso. Kelso acquired the establishment in 1947 from founder V.D. Vincent.

After more than 56 years, Jay Snyder said, it was time to retire. So when the opportunity to sell came up, he and his wife decided to take it.

Leaving after all those years has been a little tough, he said.

“It’s a bittersweet transition, to say the least.”

The couple sold to Haney in mid-November, but Jay Snyder said he stayed on through Christmas to help smooth the transfer.

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