The Main Event
Trader’s Mill Grill & Bar Offers Great Eats, Live Music, Sports, Games & More
Writer / Matt Keating
Photographer / Michael Durr
Ron Watson, the co-owner of Trader’s Mill Grill & Bar since 2017, has enjoyed meeting new friends at the popular establishment.
The grill and bar has been around a long time.
“Trader’s Mill was built with the Trader’s Point shopping center,” Watson says. “The original creator sold the place within the first year to a family who ran it for 12 years. The family then sold it to us two years ago. There is some belief that there was a mill in the area of Trader’s Point, but we are not clear on the name’s origin.”
Since Watson and his wife, Deb, bought Trader’s Mill two years ago, she says they have updated and changed a lot of things, but “we’ve done it gradually, so as not to shock the regulars.”
As far as Trader’s Mill’s physical space, the Watsons have put in all-new flooring, new lighting and a new HD projection system for their 113-inch screens.
“We also have new games like darts and a new jukebox, Euro-lounger couches, new booths and tables and new kitchen equipment,” Watson says. “We added a kegerator for four more draught taps, a new glycol system to keep the beer fresh and cold and more.”
The Watsons doubled the size of the pet-friendly patio and added landscaping around it, as well as new patio furniture, string lights, a big Jenga, corn hole, dog bowls and a fabulous line-up of live music on the patio on warm Saturday nights.
“We’ve updated the menus, improved the food preparation, including getting back to scratch-made food, created new specials and signature dishes, offered gluten-free options, organic veggies, vegan and vegetarian options and more,” Watson says. “We added a dessert menu and developed our own signature bar drinks, too.”
The Watsons also hired and trained an all new staff.
“They are friendly, fast, attentive and genuine – they’re not following a script like at a chain,” Watson says. “They just treat our guests the way we would want to be treated. All around, guests tell us they are thrilled with the improvements and love what we’ve done with the place.”
Guests also love the food.
“Our fried cheese is unbeatable,” he says. “They are hand-cut big chunks of fresh mozzarella, each hand-rolled in buttermilk, bread crumbs and spices and served with marinara. One of our show-stopper signature sandwiches is the Three Little Pigs — our amazing tenderloin (hand-breaded fried or grilled), layered with ham and Applewood-smoked bacon, and topped with provolone, on a brioche bun. You know its a top-quality tenderloin when you can get it grilled without breading and it’s still hearty and delicious.”
Guests also love their burgers, steaks, salads, pizzas and homemade soups.
The chili is also a big hit.
“Our homemade chili has just the right amount of kick to it and warms the soul,” Watson says. “On Sundays from 11 a.m to 3 p.m., we serve from our brunch menu, as well as the regular menu, and we have the best homestyle fries & hash browns in town.”
Watson noted that their full kitchen is also open late every night.
“Everything is made-to-order just the way you like it,” Watson says. “We have many ways to customize, so get creative. The full bar can make you just about any cocktail, and we have a carefully curated variety of wines, craft beer & well-known brands and more than 70 Bourbons, Scotches and Whiskeys.”
Deb believes Trader’s Mill is unique because they “are not a chain, and you feel it the minute you come in the door. The staff may be running around but still takes the time to greet you with a friendly welcome. You can also sit wherever you like. There are lots of regulars and new people finding us all the time. Ron and I are out there delivering food, bussing tables, checking on the food and the guests’ happiness, which is truly vital.
“We really care about this place and want every guest to have a wonderful experience,” she adds. “Some might look at us and think we’re a ‘sports bar’ because we’ve got a lot of televisions turned to sports, and it is a perfect place to watch a game, but we are much more than that. Many people come just to eat our delicious food.”
Watson adds that The Trader’s Point-Zionsville area is like a small town where everyone knows each other.
“It also simultaneously draws people from far and wide with its convenience as a meeting and stopping point off the highway,” he says. “We are a gathering place for the Trader’s Point-Zionsville area, so we really feel like a hub of the community. People who work in the area come for working lunches and unwind gatherings at the end of the day, so we get to know all the many different businesses around here, which is a lot of fun. The crowd is diverse — from workers in their coveralls and boots playing pool, to friends meeting up for lunch, to colleagues with their laptops, to retirees hanging out for the afternoon.”
Trader’s Mill also has plenty of parking and an over 21-only policy that makes it an ideal spot for large adult groups like retirement parties and birthdays.
“We get to help make memorable milestones in people’s lives,” Watson says. “We are the spot friends and couples come to on their way to or from a movie at the comfy AMC theater or after shopping. We meet and get to know the neighbors. It’s just one big family.”
Trader’s Mill also has popular events.
“In the warmer months, we will have live music again on the patio,” Watson says. “It’s free, and we have a colorful line-up of different genres. Last year, we had acoustic sets of pop, rock, folk, country, Latin-fusion, Irish-folk and even island steel drums. “It’s always something mellow that allows friends to have a drink and conversation over it without having to yell. All the performers are local, as we want to be a showcase for the up-and-coming talent in our community.”
Trader’s Mill also has plenty of daily food and drink specials.
“One of our most popular specials is our Tuesday Night Steak Special, with any of our flame-grilled, made-to-order steaks, plus a choice of two sides for $14.99,” Watson says. “We are developing new specials for Saturday nights in 2019 and for special times of the year like March Madness. We also do a fun menu for March Madness that features basketball puns like Flagrant Fowl Wings and Garlic Nothing-but-Knots.”
Trader’s Mill Grill & Bar is located at 5650 W 86th Street #100. You can give them a call at 317-334-1226 or visit them online at tradersmillgrill.com for more information.