The Elbow Room has new owners.
Deb and Gary Coy have bought the bar, located at 1004 N. Washington St., that has been a Kokomo fixture for several decades, opening in 1954.
Despite the change in ownership, Deb Coy told the Tribune that frequent patrons of the bar can expect no major changes to its offerings or staff. The Elbow Room is known for its specialty burgers, breaded chicken wings and live music.
“It’s not broken, I don’t need to fix it,” Deb Coy said. “Am I going to put my own touches on it with colors and new fixtures? Yeah, I’m going to do that. The biggest thing that’s going to change is the name on their [employees] paychecks. It’s going to go to my name.”
A management employee at Kroger in Peru, Deb Coy has 30 years of experience in the retail business, but it’s been a dream of hers to own her own business.
The death of her son in 2008 changed her life and pushed her to focus more on fulfilling her lifelong goals.
“I rearranged my priorities, and over the next few years I decided to go after goals I wanted to do in life,” she said. “One of those was owning my own business.”
The Elbow Room’s former owner, Jeanne Whelcher, along with her sister, bought the business in 2008 at the height of the Great Recession after Welcher was laid off from Chrysler due to the economic downturn.
At that time, the bar had been closed for several months, but the two saw potential in both the business and themselves.
Since then, the changes have been numerous and include a new food menu, new bathrooms, additional space, an outdoor patio and stage for live music and more. But Whelcher told the Tribune last October she was “ready to make some changes” in her life and put the business up for sale for an asking price of $425,000.
Last fall, Deb Coy saw the for sale listing and was intrigued. She has never visited the bar despite living in Kokomo for nearly 30 years.
When she did finally enter The Elbow Room, what she found was a community.
“You can go in one time, get one drink and two weeks later, and the entire staff will remember what it was you drank,” Deb Coy said. “That, to me, is amazing. They have a lot of respect for their customers, and their customers have a lot of respect for them.”