The first Peppy Grill opened in Indianapolis in the late 1940s at the corner of Washington Street and Senate, site of the current Government Center. By 1955, there were six locations around town, and by 1960, there were 10.
Gene Sluder was the original mastermind of those earliest Peppy diners. Though his father was listed as owner, young Gene opened and managed the restaurants during its 1950s heydays, starting before his 20th birthday.
Originally, Fountain Square was home to two Peppy locations, with a third just down Shelby Street in Garfield Park. The first in the neighborhood opened at 1024 Morris St., behind the dental clinic that’s still in business. It operated for more than a decade before Sluder sold it to an employee who promptly renamed it Hazel’s Grill after herself.
The second Fountain Square location was at 1004 Virginia Ave., and it is the only one of Sluder’s original restaurants still in operation. (The current 10th Street Peppy Grill was not an original and has no affiliation with Sluder.)
When he died in 1979, Sluder was 48. Over the course of 30 years, he’d owned and operated more than 20 restaurants and established the city’s first—and most enduring—fast food chain.
Husband and wife team Gerald and Mary Wyman bought Virginia Avenue Peppy Grill shortly afterward, and Mary Wyman continued to operate the restaurant until her retirement at age 74 in 2013. She died two years later.
In 2013 Mr Hai Duong bought the restaurant from Mary Wyman and has since re organized the company to include local Businessman Brighton Dube and other Board members.
Peppy Grill Group renovated the restaurant completely but kept the Peppy Grill theme.