HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — Indiana does not have an official state food, but if there was, a lot of Hoosiers say it would be the pork tenderloin sandwich.
In our latest edition of “Phil Finds Out”, we looked into the history behind Indiana’s connection to the tenderloin and ended up at Nick’s Kitchen in Huntington.
“It’s all I could ever remember,” Charlotte Lewis said. “I’ve come here quite a few years.”
Nick’s Kitchen opened in 1908. It was started by a German immigrant named Nick Freienstein but the pork tenderloin is what put it on the map.
Jean Anne Bailey has owned Nick’s for 30 years.
“I’m the fifth owner, my parents were the fourth,” owner Jean Anne Bailey said. “They owned it for 20 years from 1969 to 1989. I was able to purchase it in 1989 and the rest is history.”
It’s been said that the first pork tenderloin was made here at Nick’s Kitchen.
Heather Tallman is the program director for Indiana Grown.
“They are known as kind of being the genesis of the Indiana pork tenderloin, they developed it. They had a pork tenderloin that was like a schnitzel and that’s what they were known for,” Tallman said. “They decided to change it up a little bit instead of pan frying it and frying it like a schnitzel they put it on a bun and served it as this tenderloin sandwich.”
Nick’s is located on Jefferson Street in Huntington. The town square looks like a Norman Rockwell painting
Joe Bickel is a former police officer who now works security at the courthouse. Before Bickel was keeping the peace in town he worked at Nick’s.
“I was just a kid, 13 years old making 35 cents an hour,” Bickel said.
When you walk into Nick’s, it’s like taking a step back in time. The style is 1950’s blue collar with a mid-20th century counter and booth.
They may be known for their tenderloins, but it’s Nick’s history that keeps many people coming back.
“I had a guy in here yesterday says I had my first meal in here 92 years ago. And he was very interesting to talk to. There’s a lot of that goes on, I have customers that have been coming in here everyday for the 30 years that I’ve owned it and even longer. The same table, the same seat,” Bailey said