Clancy’s Hamburgers is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a one-day return to Noblesville.
The former Noblesville eatery will serve up Clancy’s Toppers, tenderloins, fries, cole slaw and Cokes, and offer its special 50th anniversary drink glasses, T-shirts and koozie, at a booth set up Saturday in front of the Elks Lodge, 35 S. Ninth St., during the Noblesville Street Dance.
The late Carl Fogelsong of Noblesville founded Clancy’s Inc. in Noblesville in 1965. The first restaurant, formerly at 100 S. 10th St., had the first double drive-thru in the Midwest.
At one point, Clancy’s had 31 fast-food locations in a four-state area. Carl’s son, Perry Fogelsong, joined the company in 1982 when the first Grindstone Charley’s opened in Noblesville, just west of Riverview Health, where the Walgreens is now located. Although only one Clancy’s Hamburgers remains, the business still owns Michelangelo’s in Noblesville and Grindstone Charley’s restaurants in other locations. Their company headquarters is in Noblesville.
Carl Fogelsong was CEO of Clancy’s until he retired in 2000 and was chairman of the board until he died in 2006, at age 72.
Clancy’s Facebook page, which has more than 3,300 likes, gets constant comments from fans “about their memories from early childhood and teenage year about going to Clancy’s,” said Blake Fogelsong, 27, Clancy’s owner and director of operations. He is Carl Fogelsong’s grandson.
“We get constant comments from many Noblesville fans saying ‘Come back to Noblesville.’ So I think it’s that good memory, whether it was pulling through the double drive-thru to get a chocolate shake, or coming in with the family and getting toppers and fries. It makes people feel good,” said Blake Fogelsong, Perry Fogelsong’s son.
He shared his grandfather’s history, how in 1964 Carl Fogelsong, while operating a restaurant in Michigantown, Ind., “decided he wanted a fast-food restaurant of his own.”
“Recognizing this kind of restaurant with its speed, economy, and limited menu was more than a fad. Carl resolved to have one that went on step further,” Blake Fogelsong said. “He wanted a restaurant that offered top quality food at a reasonable price. This meant 100 percent pure beef hamburgers, Grade A fancy potatoes for French fries, top-quality brand names for condiments, buns, quality aged cheddar cheese.”
Carl Fogelsong’s concern about giving people quality, courtesy and cleanliness led to his decision to name his restaurant after an old comic strip keystone cop movie character named Clancy. “Clancy was friendly, well liked and a quality person who represented the American value Fogelsong wanted in his restaurant,” Blake Fogelsong said.
In May 1965, Clancy the Cop perched high above a sign out front of the first Clancy’s in Noblesville.
“Clancy’s offered the extra touches that did so much to make it a favorite of the public,” Blake Fogelsong said. “It achieved the reputation for ‘best French fries in town.'” While Clancy’s was not only the first double drive-thru in the Midwest, it also had a 35-seat dining room.
“We went into small towns when McDonalds wouldn’t go into small towns,” said Bunny Fogelsong, Carl’s wife, said. She and her late husband took $10,000 she saved from her teaching job to start the first Clancy’s in Noblesville, where Carl Fogelsong flipped burgers alongside his employees.
Within 15 years, the Fogelsongs opened 31 Clancy’s, filling a niche in small towns throughout Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, Blake Fogelsong said.
The eatery served customers until its closing on Dec. 19, 2004. The building was torn down, and the City put up a parking lot.
“We have so many fond memories growing up and working in the Clancy’s restaurants,” Blake Fogelsong said Thursday to The Times. “To be able to come back and serve food in the town it all started in is going to be exciting and very emotional.”
WANT TO GO?
What: 24th annual Noblesville Street Dance.
When: 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Historic Courthouse Square, downtown Noblesville.
Title sponsors: City of Noblesville and Riverview Health.
Info: (317) 776-0205, http://noblesvillemainstreet.org/
By Betsy Reason