Delicious burgers, cold beer, and a century-old story of an immigrant’s generosity make the Workingman’s Friend one of Indy’s very best lunch hideaways…
Tucked away just west of downtown Indianapolis, the Workingman’s Friend has a long record of satisfying the hungry and thirsty working folks of Indy. While you’ll come for this epic cheeseburger, you’ll surely come back for the friendly vibes, just as people have for nearly 100 years.
The Workingman’s Friend’s story begins humbly with a Macedonian immigrant named Louis Stamatkin who found his way to Indianapolis via Ellis Island. Once “landing” in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1918, Stamatkin opened the Belmont Lunch.
With a dirt floor and no roof, the little luncheon wasn’t fancy, but it was perfect for nearby B&O roundhouse railroad workers in need of good grub. As the luncheon prospered, so did his personal life. By the mid 1920s, Louie and his wife had 2 boys and with the steady stream of hungry railroad workers, the future looked quite bright for their little lunch counter.
Then the Great Depression took hold.
Like millions of other Americans during the 1930s, many of the railroad workers and other local patrons of the luncheon were very short on money. Louie’s heart for his community led him to often allow folks to eat their meals on credit. His trust and generosity was noticed by patrons, and one day a worker even quipped Louie was “the working man’s friend.”
Louie continued to be a friend to the working man until his death in 1946. With his passing, the torch went to his sons who would build the current building around the original luncheon. The “new” building was opened in 1952 with its new name without ever closing during construction.
Today, the Workingman’s Friend is in its 3rd generation of Stamatkin family ownership, and it’s obvious to any visitor the principals set forth by Louie are alive and well today.
Aside from a menu serving some of the best burgers in the state and a full bar for washing away a hard day’s work, there’s just something intangibly special about the Workingman’s Friend.
While we were only there for one lunch, it felt like if we ever returned, someone would remember us. Blue collar and white collar folks mixed, mingled, and dined. Servers greeted regulars like you only see on an old episode of Cheers. Even its cash-only policy just seems to lend to the overall vibe of a simpler, friendlier time.
In terms of what to order, first-timers have to go with a double cheeseburger and some onion rings. Perfectly crisp edges and juicy centers put their burgers toward the top of the list for any Indianapolis burger aficionado.
While you devour your burger and gulp down your fish-bowl beer, take a minute to absorb the history and local pride on display all over the Workingman’s Friend. From the 3 green posts salvaged from the old railroad roundhouse to the numerous Indianapolis 500 trinkets, the ambiance of the Workingman’s Friend is almost as good as that crispy-edged burger.
If you’re looking for a hearty lunch served by warm hearts, the Workingman’s Friend is the place for you, just as it has been for hungry folks since 1918.
234 N Belmont Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46222