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home : columnists : columnists November 18, 2017

The return of a taste of heaven

By Paula Dunn
From Time to Thyme

Oh man, the news that Clancy's is coming back to town sure stirs up memories!

Okay, technically the restaurant will be the "Grindstone Public House" and it's supposed to be more of a Grindstone Charley's than a Clancy's, but still, Toppers will be back and there's nothing that says "Clancy's" more than a Topper!

I know at least one person who's thrilled he'll no longer have to drive to Ohio to satisfy his Topper craving. (The only remaining Clancy's is in Sidney, Ohio.)

If you're new to this area and don't know what I'm talking about, I'll give you his description of Toppers - double decker hamburgers similar to Frisch's Big Boys, with a white sauce, shredded lettuce and cheese.

Or, if you want his shorter version, "Heaven!"

Clancy's was a Noblesville landmark back when I was growing up in the 1960s and '70s. It was "our" fast food restaurant - not just because it was the only fast food restaurant in town (we were beneath McDonald's notice in those days,) but also because Carl Foglesong founded the very first Clancy's right here in Noblesville on South Tenth Street in 1965.

During the next 15 years Foglesong went on to open 31 Clancy's in four different states, all of them in small towns like Noblesville. (Yes, believe it or not, we were small then.)

Along the way he came up with several ideas that set Clancy's apart from other similar establishments, like the first Double-Drive Thru in the Midwest and a 35 seat dining room.

Another thing that made Clancy's different was the menu. They didn't just offer hamburgers and french fries as most fast food places did. They sold other items, too, like roast beef, fish, ham and cheese, and barbecue sandwiches, and cole slaw.

I remember how enthusiastic people were when the second Clancy's opened up on Federal Hill in the building that's now Michelangelo's. Wow, you could buy fried chicken without going to a sit-down restaurant! That was a BIG deal. (The Colonel didn't acknowledge our existence in those days, either.)

And it was all reasonably priced. The Clancy's ad in my 1973 yearbook shows a hamburger selling for 23 cents, regular fries for 22 cents (or if you wanted to splurge for the bigger version, 35 cents) and a soft drink for as little as 15 cents.

All that made Clancy's a very attractive alternative to the school cafeteria when I was in 7th grade. At that time the junior high was in the old Conner Street high school (today it's the Boys & Girls Club building) and was an easy walk to the Tenth Street Clancy's.

So many years have passed now that I don't remember if we had to get permission to leave the school grounds at lunchtime or not, but we did leave. I have a clear memory of hordes of us descending upon the poor Clancy's workers on beautiful fall and spring days.

By the way, in case you're wondering about the name, "Clancy's" came from an old movie with a keystone cop named "Clancy." Carl Foglesong saw the cop as the embodiment of all the positive qualities he wanted in his restaurant.

One of those qualities was a dedication to community service. My cousin, the Dancing Librarian, was the Children's Librarian at the Noblesville Public Library in the late 1970s and she's often remarked how good Clancy's always was about donating prizes to the children's programs.

Don't get me wrong, I've missed Grindstone Charley's, too, but my memories of Clancy's are mixed in with my childhood memories and that makes them extra special.

Welcome back, Toppers!

Paula Dunn's From Time to Thyme column appears each Friday in The Times. Contact her at younggardenerfriend@gmail.com

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