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Historic Steer-In

The Historic Steer-In has been serving comfort food for decades in Eastside Indianapolis. We spoke with current owner Barb Kehrer to learn how she and her family maintain the restaurant’s authentic charms.

In just a few words, how would you describe the Historic Steer-In?

It’s been an Eastside secret for more than a half century. Since our family took over ownership a dozen years ago, we’ve kept the original character inside and out, and our menu features some of the old-time favorite items in addition to our own family recipes.

How did your restaurant get started?

We’ve lived in the neighborhood our whole lives. In 2007, we heard the restaurant was closing, so my son, Casey, suggested we buy it. We had owned a bar, so we had some food-and-beverage experience, but I hesitated; my husband and son didn’t. I had to get talked into it. So we bought it. For awhile, we weren’t making money—business was good, but we were just paying our bills. Then, in March 2011, The Food Network featured us on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and it was like flipping a switch. It was great exposure. We’re just 7 miles from downtown, so we get a lot of travelers and have had renewed interest from locals who hadn’t come here for many years.

What are some of your signature dishes?

Our Beef & Noodles dish is number one be- cause it was featured on the show. I cooked it for my kids when they were growing up. Also big is our Hoosier Tenderloin—a fresh- cut pork loin, grilled or breaded, served with tomato and lettuce on a toasted bun. That’s our most popular sandwich. And then there’s our coleslaw—an original recipe since 1964. We make it from scratch, and it’s amazing how many people come back for it. It’s creamy and sweet, and we also sell it by the pint and the quart.

[With Sysco] it’s more than just a business- customer relationship; they really help us grow our business.

Barb Kehrer, Owner

What items do you typically source from Sysco?

We buy everything from Sysco, with few exceptions. All our meats, produce—we’ve been partners with them for a long time.

How has Sysco been an integral partner in your success?

They have been such great partners for us. They’ve always been there, helping us to save money where we can and to improve our offerings. We get three deliveries a week from Sysco. It’s much more than just a business-customer relationship; they really help us grow our business. We recently worked with Sysco to redo our regular pizzas. We conducted a lot of tastings and listened to what the Sysco team said about taking different approaches to recipes for the dough and the sauce. Before, they
weren’t popping [taste-wise] as much as we wanted them to. They are now!

Do you have a favorite Sysco product?

I think the thing we’re happiest with is the quality of the meats. The Sysco team has been great in working with us on getting different cuts, and we rely on them for suggestions, too. Sysco has also worked with us on developing our menus for many years.