A wonderful little hole in the wall
Kevin and Brenda Kyle hope to create a cozy atmosphere for customers on Main Street
By Jeremy Dunn
“I got a wonderful review on Google the other day. It said, ‘This place is a wonderful little hole in the wall.’ And I thought, ‘It can’t get any better than that for a tavern.’” Brenda Kyle, of KPK Ventures LLC, recently shared. She truly believes that is the ultimate compliment for a bar undergoing changes while trying to embrace a near 70-year history in Beech Grove.
On Feb. 1, Brenda and her husband Kevin “Brick” Kyle, a veteran Black Hawk pilot, took ownership of Main Street’s historic Harvey’s Tavern. The couple quickly realized a need to implement a cozy and welcoming environment for patrons and remind people that Harvey’s Tavern was still open for business. Brenda stated, “When I took the black film off the front windows, people came in and said, ‘I didn’t even know this place was open and that it was here.’ The Beech Grove police came in and thanked us because they could see in here now.” However, making Harvey’s Tavern visible again was just the beginning.
Building a culture
Hard work is nothing new to Brenda, a former language arts teacher, and Kevin, who did a tour in Kuwait in 2001 followed by three tours in Iraq (earning him the “Sagamore of the Wabash” from Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, at his 2016 retirement ceremony as governor of Indiana), and the duo immediately began rebuilding the tavern’s décor, menu and entertainment options. The Kyles masterfully found a way to honor Harvey’s history, keeping the original logo, signage and framed pictures, while adding more color and sharing their own history, with Brenda painting a Black Hawk helicopter on the bar’s front wall and surrounding it with photographs from Kyle’s military career.
Next, the couple started making tweaks to the menu, adding a few specialties, such as Brenda’s mother’s tenderloin recipe, a classic club sandwich dubbed “Jack’s” and walleye on Fridays. According to Brenda, the community has responded favorably to the changes. “Two guys walked in the other day and said, ‘I heard you guys have good food. That is the word on the street.’ So the word on the street is that we have good food,” she said.
Finally, KPK Ventures wanted to revive the entertainment offered at Harvey’s Tavern. Upon purchasing the bar, the Kyles learned that a previous owner had taken a trip to Florida and was introduced to karaoke and was so amazed by its popularity that he brought it back to Harvey’s Tavern, making it one of the first bars in the Indianapolis area to offer karaoke. After becoming aware of this, the pair knew they wanted to rebrand the tavern’s slogan, “Where Good Friends Meet,” by offering more evening events. From Wednesday through Saturday, the tavern offers an open stage night for songwriters, “Geeks Who Drink” trivia, karaoke, dancing and live music.
Adding their own chapter
Thanks to the Kyle family, Harvey’s Tavern will have the opportunity to continue writing chapters in its long-standing Beech Grove history. As Brenda completes the Black Hawk painting on the wall, this duo looks to pen their own additions to Harvey’s legacy. Brenda summed up this transition, stating, “It was very much a dive tavern, and we have now escalated it to a wonderful little hole in the wall place.”
And if you ask the Kyles, you could not ask for a better recognition.
Why did you open this business? It was part of the commercial building purchase.
What did you do to prepare for opening your business? The owners had been looking for three years for a place to open a wine bar and happened upon this chance to turn a ‘dive’ tavern into a wonderful little ‘hole-in-the-wall’ hangout and food place.
Who is your ideal customer? People who like a cozy atmosphere and very selective and great menu. Also, people who like to listen to acoustic guitar and socialize with good friends.
How do you plan to be successful? We are rebranding the slogan, “Where Good Friends Meet” and attracting the non-smoking customers that like to relax with a cocktail or two after work or on a weekend afternoon.
What would we be surprised to learn about your restaurant? According to previous owners, Harvey’s Tavern (formally known as the 19th Hole) was one of the first bars in Indianapolis to have karaoke. It has been around for almost 70 years and is now owned by a great retired veteran. He (Kevin Kyle) is a Black Hawk pilot and instructor out of the Indiana National Guard Aviation Armory in Fairland.
Wednesdays from 7 – 10 p.m. – Open Stage Night for original songwriters
Thursdays from 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. – “Geeks Who Drink” trivia
Fridays from 8:30 – 11:30 p.m. – Karaoke and dancing
Saturday nights from 9 p.m. – midnight – Live music
June 30 – Hitlocker performs live at Harvey’s Tavern
Harvey’s Tavern • 614 Main St., Beech Grove 46143
(317) 591-9026 • harveystavern.com