Nickel Plate Bar & Grill remains a local favorite more than 20 years later
Writer / Seth Johnson
Photographer / Jamie Sangar
“We are Fishers — we are the local people here,” says Bob Pollock, co-owner of Nickel Plate Bar & Grill. “With all the new things coming in, I think all of those new people are looking for what we have to offer too.”
Located in “old town Fishers” next to the former Nickel Plate Railroad tracks, Nickel Plate Bar & Grill features a casual, pub-like atmosphere with a full-service bar, private dining area, family area and an all-season patio. Initially home to the Parks Place Saloon, the original exposed-brick building was constructed in the 1880s and has housed many local watering holes over the years.
“From what I know about the building, it’s always been a bar/restaurant, except for during prohibition when it was ‘an ice cream parlor,’” Pollock says with a chuckle. “I wasn’t around for that, so I don’t know how much ice cream they sold in Fishers back then.”
An Indiana native, Pollock was first introduced to the restaurant industry decades ago. “I got a part-time job as a bouncer at a place called the Bulldog Lounge in Broad Ripple,” he says. “I started working there part-time, and somehow a year later, I was the general manager. I’ve been in the business ever since.”
It was through the restaurant business that he eventually crossed paths with Nickel Plate Bar & Grill founders Rick and Beth Lux, who invited him to come on as a partner.
“I had already been a manager of a restaurant in Indianapolis,” says Pollock, who moved to Fishers with his wife in ‘93. “Rick and Beth, the original owners, knew me and were looking for help here in Fishers. It just so happened I lived here already, so it was a great fit.”
Having now been a co-owner since 1994, Pollock is thankful for the reliable team he’s had by his side for all these years.
“We have many key people who have been here a long time,” he says. “Managers, bartenders, servers and our chef, who have been at the Nickel Plate 15 to 20 years or more. It’s been a great team effort. As a manager, I am really proud of our group.”
The Nickel Plate Way
Like one might assume, there’s a certain charm that comes with being located in a historic building. Having a staff that’s locally based helps too.
“I think it makes for a very comfortable feel in the building — it’s got a local feel to it,” Pollock says. “We are locally-owned, and everyone that works here is pretty much from Fishers or northern Indianapolis.”
Although the restaurant keeps things simple, the menu at Nickel Plate Bar & Grill has evolved over the years to follow trends in the business.
“We look for new things coming in that people are asking for, and we try to incorporate them into our menu,” Pollock says.
Overall, though, they’ve made sure to stick to what they’re good at.
“There are some basic items on our menu that have always been the same, and those are really our top sellers,” Pollock says. “No. 1 is the breaded tenderloin. We’ve won a lot of awards over the years for our tenderloin. It is probably about 30-40 percent of our sales. We’re also known for our fish and chips and our burgers.”
As for their drink selection, the Nickel Plate Bar & Grill has also adjusted to the growth of craft beer as well.
“We’re kind of limited in the amount of taps we have, so it’s not a whole lot in that regard,” Pollock says. “But in our bottle selection, we have a lot of craft beers involved now.”
At the end of the day, Pollock ultimately attributes the Nickel Plate Bar & Grill’s success to a simple formula.
“We serve really good food at a really good price in a really nice place,” he says. “It’s nothing fancy. We’ve never tried to be fancy. But it’s always been a local favorite.”
In reflecting on the longstanding success of the bar and grill, he couldn’t be more thrilled that the people keep coming back.
“It means a lot,” he says. “We’re very proud of what we’ve done here at the Nickel Plate and how we’ve been able to stay a popular spot in town all these years.”