For the Whole Family

Shallo’s Antique Restaurant and Brewhaus is more than just a bar

By Glenda Winders // Photography by Gabby Brock

If you’re checking online for a listing of places to eat in Greenwood, you’ll find Shallo’s Antique Restaurant and Brewhaus categorized as an American restaurant. That’s true, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
“Some people say it’s their favorite Mexican place,” says  Shane Zoellner, the general manager. “One man comes in to have fajitas when he’s visiting from Arizona because he says they taste like home. Others come for the Alfredo sauce or call us a steakhouse or praise us for our pub food.”
Many people consider the iconic place a bar, and that’s true, too, but there’s more to it than that. Yes, they are one of the largest purveyors of beer in the Midwest, with the bar portion of the eatery stocking some 500 rare, exotic and hard-to-find brews that include imported, local and microbrewery offerings. They have 48 beers on tap as well as wine selections and a full bar. And yes, twice a year they shut down the upstairs area for beer tastings. But still the word “bar” doesn’t provide an accurate description of the establishment.
Owner Paul Zoellner (Shane’s cousin), wants his 40-year-old business at 8811 Hardegan St. to be known as a  family restaurant. Indeed, customers range from babies in highchairs all the way to their grandparents.
“Some people think we’re just a bar, but we’re actually a true family restaurant,” he says. “Specializing in beer is just something we like to do.”
The fact is that you may never have heard of this place at all since they don’t advertise. During and since the pandemic they have made posts on Facebook, but that’s all.
“It’s just word of mouth,” Paul says. “That’s how we have stayed in business, by just doing it the right way.”
He’s proud of the fact that the restaurant operates a from-scratch kitchen with 98 percent of their food items homemade daily or every other day. They make the seasonings for the fajitas as well as their own special “swamp sauce,” which tastes much better than it sounds.
Several years ago, the original owner of the restaurant, Paul Shallabarger (who still comes in to visit), found the Caribbean condiment in South Carolina, and for a while, drove there to buy it by the gallons.
Eventually, the restaurant bought the secret recipe, and now they make it themselves. The tangy red concoction is complex and layered and tastes like a combination of steak sauce, barbecue sauce and much more. They serve it on breaded tenderloins, chicken and nachos. “Swamp burgers” come with a bit of zing that ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise can’t match.
Another specialty is their freshly made potato chips served with homemade ranch dressing for dipping. The chips are paper-thin and cooked as they’re ordered, so the generous basketful of them is still hot when it arrives at the table. In fact, everything here is freshly made. They go through some 200 breaded tenderloins a day as well as many orders of fish and chips that are never prepared until someone asks  for them.
“None of it is frozen,” Shane says. “We don’t buy it in bulk and freeze it like some others do.”
One of his favorites on the menu is the chicken wings — 2 pounds of chicken on seven or eight wings. He says he comes in to have it on his day off since it is too messy to eat while he works.
The French onion soup, packed with onions and with the cheese topping cascading down the sides of the bowl, is also a star. And at dessert time,  their rich chocolate brownie with ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate sauce is hard to beat.
Since customers come back for their favorites, the menu is pretty much the same as it was 40 years ago, except for features and specials, and that’s the way they plan to keep it. Paul says his customers wouldn’t have it any other way.
The ambiance here is welcoming, too. Wood paneling and a pressed-tin-look ceiling make it feel  warm and cozy, and antiques that celebrate the Indianapolis of a bygone era complete the look. Photographs and other memorabilia from the L.S. Ayres Department Store and the Indianapolis 500 combine with an old high school basketball scoreboard, an American flag with 38 stars, an antique sign from a Shell station and more to provide lots to look at while diners enjoy their food. A huge neon sign over the bar that spells out “Insurance” illuminates the area and can’t be missed.
Paul says he likes being independent and family-owned  so that he doesn’t have to wait for corporate approval to put a new idea into play. When officials said dine-in  restaurants had to close because of COVID-19, he went to work making soup and bread, then put out the word that anyone who was hungry or in need could stop by for a free meal.
“We could adapt and change pretty quickly,” he says, “whereas a lot of the corporate restaurants have to go through the chain of command and red tape to get there. Just to be part of the community and to be able to do those sorts of things would be hard for a corporate restaurant to do on the fly like we do.  We’re able to help the community, and we do as much as we can donation-wise with the community and all the local schools.”
Besides being family-owned and family-centric, the restaurant staff treats their customers like family, too.
“We have a lot of regulars,” Shawn says, “and our goal is to make everyone a regular. On any given night I see 30 people that I know and can call by name.”
The people who work here stick around, too. Shane started as a dishwasher when he was 15 and never left.
“I grew up here,” he says, “and I love it to death.”
And his isn’t the only multigenerational family that works here. He especially remembers when the bartender was pregnant, and today, her grown-up daughter works alongside her mom as a server.
On any given night the place fills up. And with no room for a stage for live music, all that can be heard is the sound of lively conversation.
“We have a high volume, and we try to take good care of our customers,” Shawn says. Paul adds: “It makes you have to do your job really well because people won’t come back if you’re not doing it right.