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The Colonial Tavern is an Indianapolis Southside landmark with a history dating back to at least 1912. There are countless stories and legends of the establishment which is known to have been a restaurant, tavern & gambling house as far back as the 1920’s. In the early 1900’s the location was a stop on Indianapolis’ Interurban railway which ran down Shelby Street until the system’s financial collapse in the early 1930’s. During the Great Depression, the property was acquired by Frank Kokemiller who operated it under the name Casino Grille.  Kokemiller was the leader of the notorious southside Kokemiller gang, with an extensive criminal record including assault with intent to kill a police officer, in which he sustained a non-lethal gunshot wound. It is also on record that Kokemiller was arrested for operating an illegal moonshine still, in violation of the Prohibition Act. Some insist that the Colonial is haunted by a prankster; perhaps it is Frank still up to no good. Although the Colonial is now a popular spot for students from around the corner at the University of Indianapolis, it was strictly off-limits to students the early 1900’s when the school was called Indiana Central College, a Christian institution very actively involved in the alcohol prohibition movement. The establishment has gone by many names over the years, such as Carrie’s Tavern, Boy Howdy Grille, and was known as Madison as Lilly. The piano room is now the “Karaoke Room” where the Colonial has been offering karaoke nightly for over 20 years. New owners completed major interior updates in early 2022 & reopened as Colonial Tavern. We welcome all who seek a fun, friendly and safe spot for fantastic Pizzas, Craft Brews, Wines, and Liquors & Music.

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