The original saloon first opened at 1830 South Calhoun in the Summer of 1888. The proprietor was the honorable Ferdinand Oetting. Two years later, in 1890, a fireman for the Pennsylvania railroad, W.T. Harvey, purchased the saloon.
W.T. hired a bartender by the name of Joseph J. Schnee. In 1894 Joseph purchased the saloon, thus beginning the longest family ownership of the establishment. Rosina and Joseph lived above the saloon until approximately 1910.
Shortly after Joseph purchased the saloon, prohibition was ushered in from 1918 and 1931. In 1932, the country began to rebound from the depression, prohibition was abolished, and F.D.R. came into power. Leo Schnee (Joseph’s son) opened the saloon under the name of Hoosier Products CO., Malt.
Leo was said to be a rather cantankerous proprietor. If he liked you, he served you; if he didn’t, he didn’t.
Leo operated the saloon under a variety of names. From 1935 to 1939, it was called Schnee’s Restaurant. From 1940 to 1944, it was known as Schnee’s Liquors.
From 1945 to 1953, the saloon had several different owners and names, the most notable being “The Wiffenpoof”, under the management of M. McNamara and R. Venderley.
In 1954, the real Oyster Bar era began. Hughie Johnston, a local superstar athlete, purchased the saloon and property from Leo Schnee. Hughie played first base for the world champion Zollner Pistons Softball team. In 1954, Hughie brought the team’s star second baseman, Neal Barille, into the business and operated it as Hughie’s Tap from 1954 to 1962. Hughie also introduced oysters in 1954.
During the Johnston and Barille years the saloon became a favorite haunt of prosecutors, lawyers, and other professional people.
in 1963, Neal Barille purchased Hughie’s Tap and changed the name to “Neal’s Oyster Bar.” Neal operated the restaurant/saloon very successfully until 1975. Alan Huffman and Alex Laguna purchased the business and shortened the name to “The Oyster Bar.” Alan remodeled the kitchen, bathrooms, and bar to their present states.
In 1987, a new era began when Steven M. Gard and Brenda K. Gard purchased The Oyster Bar.
We hope to usher in our own era making The Oyster Bar a favorite dining and drinking saloon. The Oyster Bar is serious in its commitment to bringing you the best and having fun doing it, thus our motto – “Serious food in a casual atmosphere.”