Beloved, 85-year-old Louisville bar Air Devil’s Inn needs your help

Air Devil’s Inn first opened in 1933. | Photo by Sara Havens

Air Devil’s Inn owners Russell and Kristie Shockley were looking really forward to 2019 and celebrating the beloved bar’s 85-year-old history with their regular clientele — which runs the gamut from musicians to neighbors to those just looking for a quiet place to shoot pool and drink cheap beer.

(Air Devil’s Inn recently was featured as a neighborhood highlight on the Bar Belle’s many adventures and was featured in the February 2019 edition of Louisville Magazine.)

The Shockleys had a newfound passion for the bar, one that ebbed and flowed after Russell Shockley inherited the watering hole from his father, Daniel Shockley, who ran it from 1988 until his death in 1995. But 2019 was a milestone year, and the couple planned to start upgrading the space section by section.

But then like clockwork, things started breaking down. First, it was a door that came off the hinges, and then the troubles spilled into the bathrooms.

ADI is located across the street from Bowman Field. | Courtesy of Air Devil’s Inn

Air Devil’s Inn is situated in a building near Bowman Field that dates back to 1857. As per lease terms with the building owner Bass Properties, the Shockleys are responsible for fixing and paying for anything and everything that goes wrong.

And then on Saturday, Feb. 16, with the men’s restroom just being restored to working condition, someone broke the seat in the women’s restroom and then decided to flush the pieces down the toilet, of course creating a sizeable blockage that required an immediate call to a plumber.

A variety show they had planned for Sunday night was canceled, and Kristie Shockley took to Facebook to vent her frustrations. And then she posted the honest truth — the bar is in trouble and needs your help. Immediately two patrons stepped up to organize a benefit party, and within an hour, five bands had already volunteered to play.

“We can’t serve our customers the way it is now,” Kristie Shockley tells Insider about her decision to take to Facebook. “I pleaded for help, and it just snowballed. I spent six hours on my phone texting, calling and emailing yesterday. We’re even getting responses from people further out in Kentucky, not just in Louisville.”

That benefit party, which is being called “Save Air Devil’s,” will take place Sunday, Feb. 24, from 3:30 to 9 p.m. It features ADI regulars Tangled Earth, Soul Circus, Lindsey Lane, Vegas Tribute, Bleu Phonque and Out of the Dark and will include raffle prizes, food and more. Admission is $5, which goes directly to helping the bar meet its expenses.

Kristie Shockley, who works part-time at St. Paul’s Episcopal Preschool, says she’s not sure how much money they need, but she will be creating an itemized list with all the information. She does know that her last plumber said it would be at least $5,000 to get the restrooms in tip-top shape.

ADI is the perfect place for pool and a cool drink. | Photo by Sara Havens

In the meantime, Port-O-Pots have been donated for Sunday’s party, and next-door neighbor Bowman Field Wine & Spirits is letting ADI patrons use their restrooms as well, as there now is only one working bathroom in the bar.

“I keep crying about it,” says Kristie Shockley. “On Sunday, I was crying because I thought it was the end, and then after I posted on Facebook, my phone was blowing up within the hour of people offering to do stuff and give money. Every time I get a new message or email of someone reaching out and offering help, I just cry.”

After Sunday’s benefit party, another one will be planned for Saturday, March 9, led by members of Louisville band Tangled Earth, which plays at ADI often. For years, ADI has given local musicians a stage and a spotlight, and it’s touching to see that the music community jumps into action and gives right back.

Air Devil’s Inn is located at 2802 Taylorsville Road.