Moore's Bar cheers local clientele

Thursday, January 26, 2012
New Moore's Bar owners Jackie and Jay Hopkins go behind the bar to serve soft drinks to longtime owners Jenny Butts (right) and Carolyn Hammond, daughters of the late LeRoy and Inez Moore who bought the Greencastle establishment in 1950.

Lyrically, the bar in the long-running television show "Cheers" stands as the iconic place "where everybody knows your name."

Comfy, crowded, familiar, friendly, harmonious. "And they're always glad you came."

Instead of that Boston TV tavern, they might as well have been singing about Moore's Bar, a Greencastle fixture for more than 60 years now.

At 17 S. Indiana St., it's perfectly situated for its multi-layered clientele -- a stone's throw from the courthouse square and a frisbee fling from DePauw University.

"It is sort of like a Cheers," new owner Jackie Hopkins agreed, pausing to ponder her recent indoctrination into the corner tavern world that is Moore's Bar.

"It is homey," Jay Hopkins adds from behind the bar and just below the shiny iconic Moore's tin ceiling.

Jackie and Jay Hopkins have purchased the bar from sisters Carolyn Hammond and Jenny Butts, daughters of LeRoy and Inez Moore. The Moore family owned and operated the bar from 1950, when they acquired it from the estate of Inez Moore's brother Edgar.

"It was Carlin's Tavern then," Carolyn said. "He (Edgar Carlin) passed away in 1950 and they bought it from the estate."

Carolyn and Jenny and their late sister Lois Steele (she passed away three years ago) were pressed into service as kitchen and clean-up help as soon as they were old enough.

"It was a different time," Carolyn concedes. "Women couldn't tend bar unless they owned a place. You couldn't walk around with a drink in your hand. You had to sit and drink at your seat."

"And you couldn't come up to the bar and order, you had to be served (by a waitress or bartender)," Jenny added.

Moore's Bar quickly became a 1950s hot spot, they recalled.

While several other bars dotted the landscape, most notably the Double D on the north side of the square and the Town Tavern at the northeast corner of Indiana and Franklin, Moore's had something the others didn't.

"We had the first TV," Jenny said.

"And the first air conditioning," Carolyn added, pointing out that where it has said "good food" on the Moore's sign that hangs over the Indiana Street sidewalk in recent years, the message once read "air conditioned."

"This," Jackie Hopkins interjected, "really was the place to be."

Husband Jay recalled how the storefont to the south, no longer connected to Moore's, was once the Colonial Room where you didn't have to be 21 to enter.

"I shot pool over there with Dad when I was seven or eight," he recalled.

The three Moore sisters took over the bar in the early 1980s and have fond memories of nearly 50 years of involvement at the bar even as they relinquish control to the Hopkins couple.

"I remember after the fair parade one time we had the Shriners in here," Carolyn Hammond recalled.

A drink or two and one thing led to another, and the next thing Carolyn knew, the Shriners had propped open the back door and were riding their mini-motorcycles right through the bar and out the front door onto Indiana Street.

"In their tall hats and all, it was kind of cute," she recalled. "They even left tire marks on the floor there. Of course, they were feeling pretty good."

Through good times and bad, fair weather and foul, regulars and drop-ins alike have found Moore's a comforting place.

"It just seemed like people were always here," Carolyn agreed. "During the blizzard (January 1978) we had people ride their snowmobiles into town just to come to the bar.

"And in that 'downburst' (August 1990 windstorm), we didn't have any power but we had beer iced down in the sinks and candles on the bar."

Carolyn and Jenny agreed they would do it all over again ... if they were younger. They admit slowing down in recent years and knowing it was time to pass the baton.

"It's been an experience," Jenny assured. "I'll tell you one thing, if you've owned a bar, you can handle anybody."

And even provide a shoulder to cry on when necessary.

"I always got all the sad stories," Carolyn added, "the ones who just lost their girlfriend."

And that continues today.

"I've already gotten some of that, too," Jackie Hopkins smiled.

Through it all, they will remember their interaction with the people.

"I've had a lot of people, especially DePauw alumni tell me, 'I had my first drink there,'" Carolyn said.

Generally, however, they backtrack and specify, "My first legal drink," she laughed.

Meanwhile, Jay and Jackie Hopkins have jumped into the business with both feet. Their dream has always been to retire to some place like St. Thomas, where "I'll be braiding hair and he'll be tending bar," Jackie mused.

"So maybe this is our transition."

Jackie says Jay had been trying to talk her into such a venture for about a year.

Then, after the Stellar Communities grant for Greencastle offered incentives like funding to renovate building facades downtown, they decided, "this was the business that stood out."

"If you're going to get one (a bar), this is the one to get," Jay added. "It's pretty neat that it's a place where anyone from students to judges to townspeople come, and they've been coming for a reason."

The Hopkinses hope to keep them coming back with menu additions like a daily hot lunch special and specialty sandwiches such as the legendary Moore's "hangover tenderloin," of course, and an adopted burger.

"We've brought back the infamous Billy Burger," Jackie said, explaining they got permission from Charlie Alex who created the burger at Varsity Lanes a number of years ago.

It features a 10-ounce hunk of beef with grilled onions, bacon and cheese on a hoagie bun, all smothered in a special barbecue sauce.

"It's been a big hit, word traveled fast," Jackie says, adding that once the revival of the Billy Burger was noted on Moore's website, it got 30 or 40 hits a day and even prompted a call from Florida.

Moore's Bar hours are now 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Sunday -- other than the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 -- will be a day of rest and clean-up.

"We've still been trying to get ourselves acclimated," Jackie says, noting that they actually took over on Monon Bell weekend. "Of course, the game ended up being horrible (for DePauw fans), so they started coming in early and the party lasted until 3 in the morning.

"I really only got mad at Jay once that day," she continued, "when he rang up a $5,000 beer."

Even with that cash register calamity, they survived that opening test and ultimately got comfortable enough to share their story with Banner Graphic readers.

"There were plenty of times that first weekend," Jackie assured, "that we thought, 'What were we thinking?'"

Apparently, what they were thinking was ... You wanna go where people know, people are all the same. You wanna go where everybody knows your name.

View 13 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • Good Luck! And yes, the food is great!

    -- Posted by localman on Thu, Jan 26, 2012, at 5:59 AM
  • They keep the riff-raff out, they should do well.

    -- Posted by ProblemTransmission on Thu, Jan 26, 2012, at 6:09 AM
  • Nice article. Good Luck, Jackie!

    -- Posted by Carla Hurst-Chandler on Thu, Jan 26, 2012, at 8:26 AM
  • Love how the banner chooses to do a story on this drinking establishment rather than ones that arent historically known for being a breeding ground for problematic locals. This story doesn't depict what goes on there at moores from night to night, nor do Depauw students feel welcome inside of moores which is why you never see any of us there. Girls get treated like pieces of meat and us guys won't walk out of there in on peice if we go there. If anyone read this story that has been to moores or frequents the local bars you would have assumed this was the comic section of the paper today.

    -- Posted by coltsalltheway on Thu, Jan 26, 2012, at 2:56 PM
  • A local business ISN'T catering to Depauw?! Scandalous!!! Oh the humanity!!!

    -- Posted by stranded67 on Thu, Jan 26, 2012, at 3:32 PM
  • If you depauw students would act "PROPER" insted of like spoiled little rich BRATS,maybe your outcome would be different,Moore's bar is a fine local establishment.

    -- Posted by obeone on Thu, Jan 26, 2012, at 4:46 PM
  • I agree with "stranded67" and "obeone".

    Maybe mummy and daddy can buy you a day pass and you can sit at the bar with your big boy pants on!

    -- Posted by barlow14 on Thu, Jan 26, 2012, at 5:50 PM
  • This is the reason why the town and university are so divided. I'm sorry if every time I've been to moores my friends and I are harrassed and spend the entire time having our sexuality questioned. My point is I can drink anywhere else in this town and not be treated the way I am at moores. I'm not from here, nor do I frequent the bars. I'm only speaking about my experiences that I've haVe had every time I walk into that bar which is why I don't go there anymore.

    Your insane to think that there isn't a "your not welcome" vibe at moores if you aren't a regular. "where everybody knows your name"? More like "if we dont know your name, we're going to give you a derogatory one and call you by it until you leave"

    -- Posted by coltsalltheway on Thu, Jan 26, 2012, at 8:12 PM
  • I've lived in this town for years and just recently wandered into Moore's and I had a great experience. It's a little crowded sometimes and I wish they had the room to expand but I think the "vibe" has changed since the new owners have been in there. To Coltsalltheway, have you been in there recently and been treated this way? If not, I really do suggest you give it another try.

    -- Posted by WTFRUthinkin on Thu, Jan 26, 2012, at 9:25 PM
  • If only Wayne and Roberta were still with us. That way if anyone got "dead drunk" in the bar the problem could be quickly resolved!

    -- Posted by don'tletmebemisunderstood on Thu, Jan 26, 2012, at 11:20 PM
  • Hey bannner, why the sensorship??

    -- Posted by barlow14 on Fri, Jan 27, 2012, at 1:15 PM
  • Too bad the comment section doesn't have spell-check. I guess you have to consider the sources!!!

    -- Posted by jbastian on Tue, Jan 31, 2012, at 8:46 AM
  • I have enjoyed lunch there many times. And now that there is no smoking I don't see anything to complain about. Good Luck to the new owners!

    -- Posted by peace2019 on Wed, Feb 1, 2012, at 2:11 PM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: