Gallery: BuskerFest celebrates street performances, music and art
Jun30

Gallery: BuskerFest celebrates street performances, music and art

Each summer, Fort Wayne gathers downtown to celebrate busking (or street performing) with a lineup of performers from across the country. This is event is hosted by Fort Wayne’s Downtown Improvement District. Check out this gallery of this year’s successful event! Juggling, poetry, stilt walkers and more take up Calhoun Street in downtown Fort Wayne. A living statue performs at BuskerFest 2019 much to the delight of kids and adults of all ages. Allez-OOPS! featuring Rob and Miss Jane performed at BuskerFest 2019 with an eclectic blend of comedy, circus, and tricks! The popular fire spinners from Pyroscope closed another successful BuskerFest event in downtown Fort Wayne. For more information on this and other exciting downtown events, visit...

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Gallery: Trolley tour highlights Vincent Village initiatives
Jun28

Gallery: Trolley tour highlights Vincent Village initiatives

A few members of Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana joined Vincent Village‘s neighborhood trolley tour on Thursday night. This tour highlighted Vincent Village projects and initiatives and gave an overview of additional investments in the Oxford Community and Renaissance Pointe neighborhoods in Fort Wayne. According to its mission, Vincent Village Inc. serves homeless families with children. It is the only transitional shelter in Allen County serving two-parent families and single-male headed families. Tour participants enter the Vincent House Transitional Center, which provides shelter and supportive services for homeless families with children. Denise Andorfer, the executive director of Vincent Village, gives an overview of neighborhood projects and initiatives in and around Vincent Village. Vinnie’s Empowerment Store where clients can acquire clothing and other goods to help them during their transitions. Children’s art dries on the rack after an early evening painting activity for kids at the transitional shelter. Tour participants also visited the former fire station number 9. This community asset outside of Vincent Village was renovated into the Johnnie Mae Farm. Inside of the renovated former fire station at the Johnnie Mae Farm. City residents can participate in healthy cooking class in Our HEALing Kitchen, which is sponsored by the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and Parkview Health. The Johnnie Mae Farm is a partnership between the City of Fort Wayne’s Office of Housing & Neighborhood Services and the Purdue Extension – Allen County Office. For more information on Vincent Village, visit their website at vincentvillage.org. For more information on the Johnnie Mae Farm, visit...

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Good Neighbors – Andie Hines
Jan16

Good Neighbors – Andie Hines

Andie Hines – Supporting Women Entrepreneurs, Supporting Fort Wayne “The number one thing that makes businesses thrive is a strong peer community.” In Fort Wayne, there is an entire network of women entrepreneurs who are killin’ it in their field and making invaluable contributions to our community. Andie Hines is one of those people—she started Red Tree Pro in 2014 as a print brokerage, but soon realized that she had much more to offer her clients. Now, Red Tree Pro provides services in event planning, brand development, and marketing consulting. Her client list includes a wide range of organizations and businesses, including Tolon, University of Saint Francis, and Berne Apparel, to name a few. On top of this, Andie is the founder of Own Your Success, a non-profit dedicated to empowering and supporting female entrepreneurs in the area. Recently, I had an opportunity to sit down with Andie to talk about her journey through entrepreneurship in Fort Wayne, and her contributions to the community through both her business and non-profit. What were some of the first jobs you had that led you to start Red Tree? I sold paper for the first 10 years of my career, very much like in “The Office.” My job was to work with graphic designers in the community to help them find the best paper for their project, more of the fine art aspect of paper. That was a sales and marketing role—I did that for ten years and I loved it. Part of the sales aspect was that I would do ‘Paper’ lunches and invite graphic designers in the community to come learn about new products or new print techniques. That was really the launch into all of this. I was on the board for the Advertising Federation for around eight years and did programming most of that time. I planned the ADDY awards two years in a row and was president for two terms in a row. So, I was really active in that and that was all sales, marketing, and events. I worked for a couple ad agencies, but in early 2014 I found out I had cervical cancer. That was a big wake-up call that I didn’t want to keep doing what I was doing. As soon as I was well I wanted to start my own company. When I started, I was just a print broker, but I quickly found that my clients wanted more from me and just continued to shift from that. Now, Red Tree is essentially a full-service marketing firm, plus events. Tell me about your non-profit—how did it come to fruition? About six months...

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The past and present of the historic Strauss Building
Dec13

The past and present of the historic Strauss Building

A Local Icon Most Fort Wayne residents are familiar with Fortezza Coffee—the local business has quickly risen to become a favorite coffee spot, restaurant, work space, and meeting place for the community since it opened in 2014. Its iconic location compliments the specialty drinks and eclectic menu for which the shop is known, the stylized red brick exterior standing out vibrantly against the surrounding businesses. But do you know the full history behind the building Fortezza calls home? Constructed in 1890, the Strauss Building (located at 821 S. Calhoun St.) is one of downtown Fort Wayne’s oldest and most recognizable structures. The building has served myriad purposes, housing a wide variety of businesses and institutions for the past 128 years. Fort Wayne’s Downtown Improvement District describes the Strauss Building as having “a rich history spanning an era of many inventions, entrepreneurs, and visionaries.” Then Sandra Lahrman, the Strauss Building’s current property manager, is knowledgeable about the structure’s past as well as its present. But the building’s longevity also lends itself to mystery. According to Lahrman, the original purpose for the Strauss Building when it was first constructed is unknown. “We don’t have the exact purpose of the building immediately after it was built, other than it was generally commercial use. But around the turn of the century it hosted a Western Union and various financial institutions,” says Lahrman. During its initial years, the Strauss Building was ahead of its time. It was one of the first locations in Fort Wayne to have early telegraph lines, the conduits for which can still be seen in the building’s basement. The Strauss Building went on to serve as the first office for Lincoln Financial Group, a Fortune 250 company that still has a large office location and prominent community presence in Fort Wayne. Later on in the twentieth century, it hosted several different business including boutique retail shores, a chiropractic practice, and general office space. Now When Fortezza Coffee owner Sean Wang was searching for a location to establish his business, he knew the Strauss Building’s historic charm and location in the heart of downtown were the right fit. “The landlords were able to save a lot of the original uniqueness, such as the ceiling and the brick walls, but also keep up with the updated safety code and functionality,” said Wang. In spite of its age and varied uses, the Strauss Building has fared incredibly well over time. Lahrman shares that some some long-forgotten signs of wear were discovered when the current management acquired the property. “There were signs of small fires when we began sanding and renovating the wood floors...

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Thank you, Bill! – Bill’s Smokehouse
Dec03

Thank you, Bill! – Bill’s Smokehouse

My husband and I have a lot of trouble eating out. Over the last ten years or so, we’ve become what I would call “at home chefs.” Between Food Network (with a heavy lean towards Alton Brown), ChefSteps (YouTube) and Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel, we’ve learned how to make phenomenal meals at home. We invested in an immersion circulator several years back and it’s changed our meat game like nothing else. We can pretty much make a restaurant quality meals at home, for a fraction of the cost, and have it cooked to perfection. Now, that’s kind of a double-edged sword . . . one, we don’t get the feeling of getting all gussied up and ‘going out’. Two, we don’t get to sit and relax and be waited on. Finally, the restaurants we might splurge on have disappointed us. Steaks aren’t cooked to the right temp. Asparagus is fibrous. Dishes were just lacking proper seasoning. I sound like a huge food snob, I’m sure, but when you can make food to a certain standard, you expect a restaurant to be able to hit the same standard, especially when paying so much. So, this brings us to Bill’s Smokehouse. Naturally, we were leary. We hold a special place in our hearts for barbecue. It’s smokey, succulent and just plain delicious. Also, it’s something we can’t do at home . . . yet. 😉 So we have our favorite place in town to get it and hold all others to that standard. As we walked into Bill’s on a cool, dark evening, we could smell the smokers from the back. The restaurant was quiet as there were only a couple other tables with guests. The room was moderately lit and looked nice with a classic, high-end look with a lean towards the a western theme. Booths and tables are both available and our booth was comfortable. Soon, we were the only table. Considering the menu is full of local, organic meats, it’s kind of hard to make a choice.We had a nice basket of corn bread while we made our decisions. While the inside was tender and sweet, the sides were dry. I went with the 28-day wet aged USDA choice tenderloin filet, six oz, a ⅓ rack of ribs, a side of apple slaw and fried Brussell sprouts. My husband got the pulled pork and brisket with sides of collard greens and green beans with bacon and onion. We also tried the sausage sampler as an appetizer. The sampler came with a smoked pork sausage, a chicken sausage, a couple cheeses and two mustards, as well as plain and...

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Solbird Kitchen and Tap – a Powerful Duo
Nov20

Solbird Kitchen and Tap – a Powerful Duo

Some couples were just meant to be together. Batman and Robin, Han Solo and Chewbacca, Bert and Ernie, and the newest collaboration on the Fort Wayne food scene – Sol Kitchen and Birdboy Brewing. Sol Kitchen was one of Fort Wayne’s founding food trucks boasting an elevated version of Tex-Mex fare. Inspired by the Bravas hot dog stand, owner Jerry Perez knew that Fort Wayne was ready to embrace the mobile food concept and embarked on a menu including Latin inspired tacos and quesadillas. Perez named his food truck after The Doors’ “Soul Kitchen”, where Jim Morrison crooned the lines “let me sleep all night, in your soul kitchen”. Just as Morrison was a huge fan of soul food, Sol Kitchen soon had a just as devoted fan base including yours truly who would never be deterred by a long line at the food truck, knowing the deliciousness that awaited you. After five years of serving amazing food on the truck at venues all around Fort Wayne and even in Roanoke, Perez set his eyes on higher sites. A stand along brick and mortar restaurant so he could expand his menu and fan base. Birdboy Brewing is a local brewery created by Ben Thompson who combined his love for planes and craft beer into brewing his own unique creations that can be found at over 60 high-end bars and restaurants such as Joseph Decuis. Birdboy was founded in 2015 and has a taproom located in Roanoke. With names like ‘Wit’s a Bird, Wits a Plane’ and ‘Redturn of the JedIPA’ you can see the creativity that goes into Birdboy’s European style beers. Loyal fans of both Birdboy Brewing and Sol Kitchen were ecstatic to learn of their partnership in the form of Solbird Kitchen and Tap located at 1824 W. Dupont Road in Fort Wayne.  Perez and Thompson have created a kitchen and tap concept that is destined for great success. The Solbird menu boasts food of many cultures, not just traditional Mexican flare. Next to the shrimp ceviche (which was a perfectly portioned bite on crisp tortilla chips and served with fresh pico de gallo and avocado crema) were Korean pork sliders and further down on the menu was a Thai shrimp burrito. Utilizing fresh local ingredients, strong influence from his Mexican roots, and some Latin flare, Perez does not shy away from flavorful profiles, which takes the Solbird menu to a whole new level. For the drink part of the equation, Birdboy Brewing has both flights and growlers available with everything ranging from a Belgian pale ale, a full-bodied Belgian Imperial Stout and, of course, a classic...

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