It was August of 2012 when Steven Moore, Brandon Mears and Ryan McArdle realized their dream of creating the perfect bar. Four years on, and the Indian Queen is sitting pretty on the corner of Monte Sano and Wrightsboro; its log-cabin exterior enhanced by a large, inviting deck and patio area bordered by flowering plants.
The bar’s name came from the legend of Peter Carnes, an 18th-century lawyer and hot-air balloon enthusiast, who, before relocating to Augusta, ran a bar called the Indian Queen Tavern in Bladenburg, Maryland.
The initial concept behind the Indian Queen was quite simple — a retreat where people could talk and socialize without yelling; a comfortable atmosphere in which people could enjoy good cocktails; a bar that inspired and encouraged community; and a place where the bartenders were capable, using time-tested methods instead of trendy substitutes.
It was certainly a risk. As with all new businesses, a lot of money was pumped into the Indian Queen, and funds were almost depleted when opening day arrived. Moore said, “I had $12 in the account. We needed to do well the weekend we opened. We had to make money.”
The unique building, neighborhood location and alluring name attracted a sizable crowd during opening weekend – in fact, right from the start, the Augusta community supported their newest “local,” a phenomenon that has only continued to grow throughout the years. It is a fact borne out across social media, where customers rave about their experience and nights out, and their many tagged photos are collected and shared by the staff.
Indeed, there is plenty to admire about the Indian Queen. Its quiet interior, rustic furnishings and large, open fireplaces are certainly enticing, but Moore believes it is the people behind the bar who make the bar a favored destination.
“Our whole team is strong. Our whole team plays the part,” Moore said. “I’ve been fortunate to have had a steady staff since we opened; the turnover that we’ve had has been very low. So the reason we’ve been able to be so successful is that staff.”
Making sure patrons have a good time, Moore explained, is both possible and essential to the business.
“When people walk through the door, we treat them well,” Moore said. “We know the better we treat them, the better environment we create, and the happier they are, and the better off we all are in the end.”
In addition to its excellent staff and operating without the bells and whistles of other bars — the Indian Queen doesn’t do nightly specials, karaoke or trivia — the bar’s comfy atmosphere is also hugely appealing. Groups of friends can certainly raise the volume of the place, but never to the point of deafening.
Conjuring up images of a long-gone lifestyle, the bar’s heavily wooded interior hasn’t changed much over the past four years. The furniture is slightly different and things have been moved around a little, but otherwise nothing has changed. It doesn’t have to — the Queen is a hit.
The Indian Queen has also stuck to its original menu of beer, wines and high-quality liquors. Those wanting something a little fancier, though, can enjoy one of its craft cocktails, created in-house and often using ingredients grown on-site.
Reflecting on the past four years, Moore said the Indian Queen has become a part of Augusta — not only a Summerville location — in the same way many Hill businesses have attracted people from throughout Augusta.
“The more diversity that you have, the more people you have from all over,” he explained. “It has become a group of people working together to allow good business to flourish.”
“Our main goal when we started was to be open to all — to be inclusive and to bring people from all over to this area of town. We want everybody to feel comfortable coming in and sitting at the bar. If you’re over the age of 21 and you can come in here and act accordingly, then we want you to be here.”
What the Indian Queen owners weren’t anticipating was the consistently high level of support they’ve received since opening their doors.
“Not to sound too sentimental, but the amount of love that we’ve received from people has surprised us,” Moore said. “It’s helped us avoid the roller coaster of uncertainty that can come from opening a new business. It’s allowed us to have a lasting, meaningful relationship with this neighborhood.”
Looking ahead to the future, Moore said the Indian Queen isn’t going anywhere. Nor is it looking to change.
“I think the Indian Queen is best off just staying as the Indian Queen, and doing what it does here until a time people don’t like it anymore,” Moore said. “And I don’t know that that time will ever come.”
The Indian Queen
2502 Wrightsboro Road
Monday-Friday, 3 p.m.-2 a.m.; Saturday, noon-2 a.m.