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Want to buy Pete’s Simonton Lake Tavern?

One of Elkhart’s landmark bars is for sale.

Pete’s Simonton Lake Tavern, 51426 S.R. 19, Elkhart, is on the market with the asking price of $1.35 million, according to operator Merle Anderson.

Lucille Kilgren, who owned the bar, died in January. “That’s why it’s for sale,” said Anderson. His wife, Linda, is one of five surviving siblings, so the estate is selling Pete’s and all that’s on the property.

The lake view from the back of Pete's Simonton Lake Tavern. (Flavor 574 photo/Marshall V. King)
The lake view from the back of Pete’s Simonton Lake Tavern.
(Flavor 574 photo/Marshall V. King)

In addition to the bar, known for its cold beer and fried frog legs and chicken, what’s for sale is 2.7 acres with 110 feet of frontage on Simonton Lake with a view across the lake, plus a commercial building and four cottages as well.

There’s been a bar at that spot along Simonton Lake since right after Prohibition, Anderson said. Pete Kilgren purchased it in February 1970 and operated it for decades. “It was his passion,” said Anderson. “It didn’t matter if he made $100 a day or $5 a day.”

The bar helped put Linda and other of her siblings through college. Anderson worked there from 1978 to 1990 and again since 2002. “The last day I’m here will be really sad,” he said.

Merle Anderson, operator of Pete's Simonton Lake Tavern, says the bar is for sale. Marshall V. King photo/Flavor 574
Merle Anderson, operator of Pete’s Simonton Lake Tavern, says the bar is for sale. (Flavor 574 photo/Marshall V. King)

Potential buyers are showing interest in the property and all its buildings. “It has a lot of potential with a lot of different things,” Anderson said.

He could see a developer putting in condominiums, a bed and breakfast or a restaurant. With the lakeside view, “you could have a destination bar in north Elkhart,” he said, adding that if he was younger he’d consider redeveloping the property himself.

The Andersons will continue to operate Cappy’s, which they own, on Michigan Street in Elkhart. Anderson said he isn’t sure what he’ll do after the sale, but he doesn’t anticipate taking on a larger role at Cappy’s, where his wife and daughter are the primary operators. “I’m the king here. They can be the queens down there,” he said.

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