."SPEEDWAY — With the Indy 500 fast approaching, tens of thousands of people are flocking to the Circle City. Many of them, at some point, will end up at Charlie Brown's Pancacke and Steak House. It's a Speedway staple with a history that is forever intertwined with the Indy 500.
"This is what people do when they go to the Indy 500. They stop in at Charlie Brown's to have their breakfast, and then they come into the racetrack," says Doug Boles, President of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The diner sits across the street from the Speedway, and over the last 40 years has gained itself quite the reputation as the go-to place for fans, drivers, and anyone who enjoys the thrill of the race.
Boles remembers many IMS milestones that have taken place right in the diner's vinyl booths.
"This is one of those places that sort of neutral ground," Boles said. "This is a neutral ground where people come and you can sit down and have a conversation and try to work things out. In fact, when Roger Penske first bought the Speedway, in November 2019, the first thing we did the next day was show up here for breakfast."
The whole restaurant is a testament to racing. Checkered flags and racing legends adorn every surface. But according to Boles, IMS comes for the service.
"It's people like Debbie who have been here 35 years," Boles said. "You walk in and it's faces you recognize, and they recognize you, and I've got a table, every time I walk in they put me in the same table."
Waitress Debbie Keith says that the respect and affection runs both ways.
"It makes me feel special. Because on Fridays we do have a lot of racers come in," Keith said. "Johnny Parsons what have you. Mayor Bettenhausen. They know us. It just makes you feel special."
After 35 years of feeding the fastest names in racing, Keith is officially a part of the IMS family, along with the entire Charlie Brown's Staff. Every May, there's a reunion.
"It's exciting. It's fun. You see people who are part of your family cause you've been here so long, that you only see once a year," Keith said. "People from California (or) Colorado who you only see once a year. So it's family time."
In the days leading up to the Indy 500, there are a lot of unknowns:
'Will the weather cooperate?'
'Who will win?'
But one thing is certain — all weekend, Charlie Brown's will be full of food, laughter, and family.
"It's definitely a staple in this community, and when people ask 'where's a good place to get breakfast?' We always send them here," Boles said.