National Hot Dog Day at Coney Island
Jul17

National Hot Dog Day at Coney Island

                      National Hot Dog Day is Wednesday, July 18 and we stopped by Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island to celebrate. They have been serving up coney dogs since 1914 in downtown Fort Wayne, and not much has changed. That’s exactly what makes them so special. Located at 131 W. Main Street, they are easily accessible and a local favorite. During the holidays, Coney Island has become a Fort Wayne tradition with lines around the corner. When natives return, one of the things at the top of their list is often a coney dog and a cold Coca-Cola. When you’re at Coney Island, you’re not just another person; you’re part of the family. The reason why family is important is because this business has been family-owned from the beginning and passed down through generations. They love the Fort Wayne community. When many businesses deserted downtown for the suburbs and malls, Coney Island never left. They’ve earned their success with each hot dog, each smile, and each passing year. Whether you have been enjoying Coney Island for years, or you are new to Fort Wayne, this is one place to build a tradition that never gets old. Each bite is filled with not only that Fort Wayne famous coney sauce, but it’s packed with love. The great thing about Coney Island is that even though the world has changed drastically in the last century, they have managed to keep their menu the same. It’s delicious, it’s reliable, and it’s there for us, seven days a week. Happy National Hot Dog Day! Pull up a seat at Coney Island. There’s a coney dog, or two (or four) waiting for...

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Living Fort Wayne Concert Series
Jun26

Living Fort Wayne Concert Series

The Living Fort Wayne Concert Series returns to Headwaters Park on Wednesday, June 27 from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Enjoy the music of Unlikely Alibi (organ and guitar driven power pop with a twist of reggae, ska and soul) and HazenSol (a fusion of classic and modern rock guitar riffs, a driving powerful bass line, a jazz drummer and powerful thought inducing lyrics.) Arrive early and sign up for the fantastic giveaways including one pair of Cubs tickets and a family four-pack of Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo tickets. Winners must be present to claim a prize. If you haven’t attended the Living Fort Wayne Concert Series yet, this is a relaxing getaway in the middle of the week. Located in the heart of Headwaters Parks, locals can enjoy the shade of the trees right next to the St. Marys River. Music will play throughout the park while you enjoy something delicious from a local food truck or a nice cold drink. As we head into the summer months, these concerts have become a staple for family-friendly entertainment that is free and enjoyable for everyone. Bring a blanket or lawn chair, and claim a spot under the blue skies of downtown Fort Wayne. Over the years, thousands have attended with accessible parking located in the surrounding parking areas near Harrison Street and Headwaters Park. Don’t forget to leave a little early due to riverfront construction and road updates in the area. Bring your friends and family for an adventure downtown. Follow the Living Fort Wayne Facebook page for any weather updates that day regarding the concert. Don’t forget to save the date for Wednesday, August 1! More information is available on our website....

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Waiter on the Way: Growing a business by ‘doing the right thing’
May31

Waiter on the Way: Growing a business by ‘doing the right thing’

This story was originally published in the May 23, 2018 issue of Input Fort Wayne as Waiter on the Way: Growing a business by ‘doing the right thing’.    Have you ever wanted delivery service from a restaurant that doesn’t offer it? That’s the idea behind Waiter on the Way. The process is simple. Visit the website, and you’ll find a list of local and national restaurants you can order from with detailed menus and weekly blog stories. Simply call or place an order on the mobile-friendly interface, and the food you’re craving will be delivered to your home or office. While other delivery services have come and gone in northeast Indiana over the years, Waiter on the Way has remained a community staple. Based out of downtown Fort Wayne, it continues to grow its influence in the region. When the owner, Derek Berkes, purchased the company in 2001, he had a staff of 20 people and delivered from 20 restaurants. Today, he has more than 110 employees, delivering from more than 140 restaurants, including local favorites like Casa, Coney Island, and Shigs In Pit. “When we started, we were averaging about 65 orders a day. Now, we average 265 orders a day,” Berkes says. He may have been honored with a 2017 Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly Business Excellence Award for “Business of the Year – Revenue Less than $5 Million,” but money was not always easily accessible for him. Instead, he says his personal failures and his ability to learn from them are what gave him the work ethic he has today. From debt to success Before Berkes turned 30, he accumulated massive amounts of debt as a result of trying to build a business, create cash flow, and hire a large staff. He wanted to take Waiter on the Way to the next level and believed that accumulating debt while doing so was the only viable approach. In his attempt to grow the company, the pressure of making money for the sake of making money become overbearing. He knew he needed to change something. “I used to chase money. I made the profit more important than anything else because I had so many people relying on the success of the business.” Berkes says. “That approach simply doesn’t work. I was very driven. I still am, but I changed what I allowed to drive me.” In his early 30s, he decided to reset his approach around creating value for the Fort Wayne community. “I focus on the quality and the relationships,” Berkes says. “I want to do the right thing every time and with every interaction. Those components...

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Hop River Brewing Company – Creating an inclusive environment
Apr19

Hop River Brewing Company – Creating an inclusive environment

This story was originally published in the April 4, 2018 issue of Input Fort Wayne as Creating an inclusive environment.    With a fifteen-barrel brew house, Hop River Brewing Company has seven to nine beers on tap with plans to grow that number by this summer. But what they are building is more than a brewery and taproom. They have relationships with other local breweries, like Junk Ditch Brewing Company and Mad Anthony Brewing Company. Both are currently available on guest taps. On top of that, the taproom is open to all ages—not just ages 21 and over. It’s not uncommon to see kids and high schoolers sitting at the community tables, playing board games. In many ways, the brewery has built an inclusive environment on Fort Wayne’s Historic Wells Street Corridor that is not only a welcoming place for guests, but also for the staff. With 13 employees, the brewery puts as much emphasis on its team members, its relationships, and its community as it does the quality of its beer. It’s this emphasis that is paying off. A brewing family The 1515 N. Harrison Street location is home to the Hop River Brewing Company staff, and it is clear that their love for each other is as great as their love for beer. The brewery started as a dream in 2015 by co-founders Ben Jackson, President, and Paris McFarthing, Vice President. Hard work by these founders and their team members lead to a grand opening on January 29. Team members include Kevin Debs, Mary Corinne Lowenstein-DeGood, Amanda Wendt, and Zach Croy. Watching them interact is like watching siblings with a long history. They get along, and there is an easy camaraderie among them. Debs, the Head Brewer, moved to Fort Wayne from Detroit to join the Hop River Brewing Company family. “I moved here for the job, and to be able to share beer with people,” he says. “I wanted to be able to develop recipes and a beer culture. To turn people on to different beer styles they didn’t know about is what this is all about.” Lowenstein-DeGood, Director of Marketing, came on board in January, 2017, and is equally excited about being part of the team. She says the opportunity to be part of a community and a business focused on staff culture was what she signed on for. “We have learned each other’s dynamic, and we grew close during the process of opening the brewery,” Lowenstein-DeGood says. “We rocked the grand opening because we learned to trust each other.” A longtime local resident and previous employee at downtown hangouts like Dash-In, Wendt is the Head...

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Three Rivers Distilling Co. – A taste of hometown spirit
Mar27

Three Rivers Distilling Co. – A taste of hometown spirit

“This story was originally published in the March 7, 2018 issue of Input Fort Wayne as “A taste of hometown spirit.”    There is a rebirth happening in the 46803, and one key reason is Three Rivers Distilling Co. (TRDC). They’re the first craft distillery to open in northeast Indiana since prohibition, and they have been creating spirits in their warehouse-turned-distillery at 224 East Wallace Street since 2016. The wheat and corn that they use grows within 100 miles of the distillery, and they take pride in using Hoosier resources they can give back to the community in their Harvester Vodka, Three Rivers Wheated Bourbon, Summit City Gin, River City Rum, Coffee Liqueur, 122 Corn Whiskey, and Franklin B. Rye Whiskey. If some of these names sound familiar, it is because they honor both the history of Fort Wayne and the local military. Until this year, TRDC’s products have been available at restaurants, groceries, and liquor stores. Now, the distillery is taking its impact to the next level by adding a tasting room to its facilities where residents can discover a previously unvisited corner of town. Veteran owned and made Perhaps the first thing to know about TRDC is everything is veteran owned and veteran made. Aaron Pence, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, has served in the National Guard 122nd Fighter Wing for 15 years and has served in 4 tours overseas. The 122nd Fighter Wing has contributed multiple combat medical teams, vehicle drivers, security forces squads, and pilots to the military forces at large. Combat zone assignments include Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Qatar, Iraq, Oman, and more. The TRDC 122 Corn Whiskey is named in honor of the 122nd Fighter Wing. TRDC describes it as “an intense, un-aged corn whiskey honoring the servicemen and women of our local community.” “Veteran made and owned is very important,” Pence says. “It’s a way to give back to those who have served. It’s a brotherhood and sisterhood, and we share the same work ethic, values, and integrity as well as a desire for excellence. We all share a passion, and it translates into the spirits we make.” The passion Pence talks about translates from his military career to the downtown neighborhood TRDC calls home. Doing business in 46803 Pence says one of the first things that mattered to TRDC was being as close to downtown as possible. They also needed to be in an area zoned for industrial use to distill spirits. That combination of factors led them to a neighborhood just south of downtown, between Calhoun Street and Lafayette. “We found a beautiful historic building in this neighborhood that overlooks...

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