History of the Saratoga

In 1942, my father Abe and uncle Joe Malooley took a leap of faith and invested what little money they had into The Saratoga Bar & Café at the corner of 5th & Wabash in downtown Terre Haute. It was the same corner where my dad at 8 years old, the youngest of his siblings, sold newspapers and shined shoes to help earn money for his family after the untimely death of his father. Little did the two brothers realize what this corner restaurant would come to mean to themselves, their families and the entire community.

The work ethic instilled in both men at such young ages would prove to be the catalyst for enduring the rigors of a growing business. Their commitment to provide a friendly atmosphere for all who entered, offering good food at fair prices was unwavering. Dad became known as “the mayor of 5th & Wabash” while Uncle Joe’s involvement in local and state liquor board garnered so much respect that he was able to influence the saloon keepers as they were called at the time to donate a caboose at Deming Park. Still today, children of all ages enjoy riding the train.

The Saratoga expanded in the early 60’s with the addition of a family dining room. My mom, Kate, became the daytime hostess and was lovingly referred to as “the hostess with the mostess” while Uncle Joe’s long time companion, Lucille, ran the evening shift with gusto. They worked diligently to ensure each and every customer left completely satisfied with a unique dining experience only a family owned restaurant could provide. They are beloved and remain in our hearts along with the countless others who made The Saratoga their second home.

In the late 70’s and early 80’s, George and I joined my parents as Uncle Joe’s health declined. Both of us had worked at The Saratoga before we were married and grew to love the business as much as the others. We decided to dedicate our lives to continuing the tradition with the same mission statement, all the while adapting to the current times. Soon we were asked to provide catering off site and Azar’s Catering Service was created in 1979.

The smallest event we’ve catered was an outside luncheon for two hard working lovely women (how could I refuse?) and the largest was for 1200 (what was George thinking???) Saratoga Traveling Bar and Azar’s Catering has continued to provide food and beverage for countless events and we feel honored to do so.

Numerous changes have taken place over the course of time, the most recent being a third dining room renovation. The first generation would undoubtedly be amazed and we hope proud of the way we have continued the business and honored their legacy. George and I are so proud to welcome our daughter Alexis and her husband Dustin as the third generation couple.

They work tirelessly to ensure the day-to-day operation runs as smoothly, bringing with them fresh ideas and enthusiasm necessary to forge ahead. We couldn’t be more pleased. All of us constantly strive to keep things fun and lively at the corner of 5th & Wabash.

It’s rare that a restaurant survives 75 years at the same location with the same family of owners. We realize we owe that to this community as much as to our own commitment. It’s an honor to provide a place where family and friends gather to enjoy each other’s company. In this world that has become so fast paced and sometimes not so kind, we like to think we offer a little reprieve with a friendly smile and genuine hospitality. Some things transcend time and generations. Thank you for allowing your family to become part of our family.

Cathy Malooley Azar