Main Street Stories: Hooples in Bremen

Jena Stopczynski / ABC57

BREMEN, Ind. -- Standing the test of time.

That is something Hooples bar, as well as its owner Edwin Morgan, have been proven successors of.

For the longest standing business in downtown Bremen, time has not always been kind, but plentiful.

Hooples was first opened by Civil War veteran CJ Hoople in 1882. Family members continued to run the bar for over a century.

In that time, this historic bar has seen multiple wars, prohibition, the Great Depression, andHooples Bar in Bremen, Ind. by Jena Stopczynski / ABC57 a global pandemic…just to name a few.

"During Prohibition, you know, they did what they had to do to survive. Couldn't get alcohol. So, they had card games and other things going on just to make money. They had a bowling alley you could go to in the basement."

The bar front and back are still the originals at Hooples. You can still see the worn holes in its finish from nervous men of the Great Depression.

"During the depression men would come in and they didn't tell their wives they lost their job. They would come in and get a beer and take a nickel or a dime and carve. And that's how these divots got put into the bar."

No matter what the occasion, or situation, the bar welcomes its friends home every time.

"I haven't changed much other than updating some things, because I want it to feel like home. You know, I want people to say, hey, not much has changed. Well, no. I don't want it to, you know, if it's, it's not broke don't fix it."

Families have "hand me down" traditions of enjoying a drink at Hooples.

"Parents cannot wait to take their child on their 21st birthday. You know, just like their dad did and their dad."

The bar also sees new friends, too.The original bar front and back from 1882 at Hooples in Bremen, Ind. by Jena Stopczynski / ABC57

"Every summer I get tourists from Bremen, Germany. And they travel across to the United States and of course they stop here because it's Bremen. Well, then they find out about Hooples, they gotta come in and see it."

The community's friend, Morgan, who took over ownership of Hooples in October 2002, has seen his share of adversity as well.

Morgan survived 24 surgeries, and defeated bladder cancer 12 years ago.

"Hey, I'm still alive so..."

Morgan is the fourth owner outside of the family that originally owned the historic bar.

CJ Hoople's granddaughter, Lucile Mabbott, was the last member of the Hoople family to own the bar until she retired in 1993, and according to Morgan she was a stickler.

"Women weren't allowed to sit at the bar. According to Lucille women were supposed to be waited on and not served."

The owner before Morgan changed that rule.

Morgan also changed the importance of the food menu. What used to be a one pager is now an extensive three-page menu of offerings ranging from bar cuisine, award-winning burgers, and Morgan's famed prime rib.

"I take great pride in my food."

Also new to the bar was an extended sidewalk in 2021, which was very beneficial at a time when eating inside wasn't always an option for some.

The global pandemic that contributed to the shutdown of many small businesses, still could not dismantle Hooples. According to Morgan, that is due to the community.

"Our little town took care of us during COVID. They helped a lot. That's one nice thing about a small town. They care of you."

When asked if Morgan has plans for passing the bar on when he's done with it, he answered,

"No, not yet. They know that I'm not ready to get rid of it, so. We'll keep her for a while. I like it."

It seems the small town of Bremen does, too.

An article on Hooples and its last owner from the original family, Lucile Mabbott from 1974 hanging in the bar. by Jena Stopczynski / ABC57

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