Good Neighbors – Olivia Lehman
Mar05

Good Neighbors – Olivia Lehman

Fort Wayne is continually being described as “the city that saved itself”, and a place with exciting growth. The growth we see in Fort Wayne is because of the great people that live here, call it home, and want to see Fort Wayne embrace itself as a city worth loving. People like Olivia Lehman. A new event called CreativeMornings has been brought to the community thanks to Olivia and she, along with the CreativeMornings Fort Wayne team, want to see people connect and embrace the creative nature that is within all of us. Olivia is the associate director of development for the nonprofit Water for Good, and is the host of CreativeMornings Fort Wayne. I spoke with Olivia about what inspired her and her team to take on this event, and how it’s making an impact in our community. What is CreativeMornings (CM)? CreativeMornings (CM) is literally a breakfast lecture series for the creative community where people can come together with no agenda or boundaries, share ideas, and be inspired. The goal is for it to be a safe, sacred place for people to just be together. How did you get started with CM? I lived in Indianapolis for six years and volunteered at the CM events in Indianapolis. When I moved back to Fort Wayne I saw the potential. I had experience with event planning, and bringing people together so it felt natural. When I moved back to Fort Wayne, I had to jump out of my comfort zone and start meeting new people. I went out for drinks, started having conversations, and when I asked people to join me, a lot of people were interested. A big influencer for me was Matt Kelley, the owner of One Lucky Guitar. When he heard about what I was planning to do, he was all in and asked how he could help me make it happen. What has inspired you throughout this process? I was actually inspired by the book “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. To sum it up, she describes that if you have a dream, it may pass you by and someone else will pick it up instead. You could miss out, but if you take it and run with it, great things could come of it. What type of people attend CM? All kinds of people! People from ad agencies, banks, schools, people who are creative but you may not expect them to be. The CreativeMornings manifesto starts out with “everyone is creative” and I think that sums it up. All are welcome. Talk to me about the guest speakers. How do you find them? We have...

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United Coffee – Bringing Europe to Fort Wayne
Feb11

United Coffee – Bringing Europe to Fort Wayne

Coffee is the quintessential universal language. No matter where you go, no matter what country you are in, a coffee shop is the place you go to meet friends, study, and hang out. It can be the home to new beginnings and chance encounters and it was certainly by chance that I stumbled upon Fort Wayne’s newest local coffee shop, United Coffee. Tucked away in a shopping plaza at 6447 W. Jefferson Blvd. that houses Buffalo Wings & Ribs, Pak Mail, and Chops Steak & Seafood, is the cutest coffee shop on the corner lot where a credit union used to stand. Owners Tony and Marina Horani greet their customers by name as they enter the cozy shop with its cheerful yellow chairs and twinkling fairy lights. Their goal is for people to feel welcome – like they have invited them into their home for a cup of coffee. Marina, a native of Kaliningrad (which was German until the end of WWII and is now a part of Russia), laughed as she told me she feels like she knows more people in Fort Wayne than in her homeland. Tony, a native of Fort Wayne, had told her how welcoming his hometown was  and that was one of the things that drew them back. Tony is a graduate of IU’s Kelley School of Business and armed with a degree in accounting moved to the nation’s capital to work in real estate investment. Marina was studying at a university in Russia that had an exchange program for English immersion which she was taking in DC, which is how the two met and fell in love. The two loved traveling and had a love for coffee and local businesses. “I’ve always wanted to own a family business and we have such a great economic environment in Fort Wayne.” Tony explained. “Fort Wayne is the NYC of small businesses…but with training wheels. People want to see you succeed. The competition isn’t as stiff and the city is willing to let you figure things out.” United Coffee is a culmination of products that the Horanis explored in their travels. “We wanted to build something we would enjoy,” Marina noted. One year ago while they were on a layover in Amsterdam, they tried their now signature waffles, the Liège waffle. These waffles come from a local baker in Brussels, Belgium. Waffles are one of Belgium’s most famous exports, yet they do not have what we consider a Belgian waffle. Instead they have two categories of waffles that have existed for hundreds of years: the Brussels waffle (which is similar to our American version of a Belgian...

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Pop-up coffee shop opens in the ’05 – Rowe Coffee Co.
Feb07

Pop-up coffee shop opens in the ’05 – Rowe Coffee Co.

What makes a good cup of coffee? Is it the taste? Is it the experience? Or is it something greater? California transplant Andrew Rowe was 23 when he started Rowe Coffee Co. as a pop-up bar with a few friends. After years of offering pop-ups at events, Rowe is starting the next chapter in its expansion in Fort Wayne. This month Rowe Coffee Co. is now offering a pop-up coffee shop experience inside the Urban Attic Pop-up Shop in the East State Neighborhood (2329 Crescent Ave.). The pop-up is taking place throughout the month of February from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Thinking ethically “Our slogan – ‘doing good coffee for the greater good’ – that was kind of what we base all of our decisions on,” Rowe said. “From hiring somebody or from choosing the pour-overs to how we’re sourcing the beans.” After immersing himself in literature, classes and video tutorials, Rowe has continued to research ways to make beverages better. “I started looking at ways to source coffee more responsibility, more ethically, more consciously,” Rowe said. As a result, Rowe explored topics like human trafficking and slavery in coffee’s supply chains. “We want make sure everything is ethically sourced,” Rowe said. “Before I chose Yellow Cup [Coffee Roasters] as our primary roaster, I had asked him to give me some details on how he knows that child labor and slave labor is not used.” Rowe worked with Yellow Cup to develop the Rowe Coffee Co. blend. The blend, which is 50 percent Ethiopian and 50 percent Colombian, pairs well with milk. Rowe performed numerous taste tests to find his signature blend. Rowe estimates he went through five-to-six Ethiopian samples before he found the perfect blend. In addition to seeking out ethically-sourced products, Rowe Coffee Co. also donates ten percent of profits to Charity Water, a non-profit organization with a mission to bring clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries. In 2018, Rowe Coffee Co. helped 18 individuals get access to water. Community matters After this month’s pop-up, Rowe hopes to eventually develop a full-scale coffee shop by 2020. In this space, customers will be able to experience interactive coffee culture right in the ’05. “I’d love to see a community built around Rowe Coffee Co. and this space specifically,” Rowe said. “I really want to be bringing together the coffee community, as well.” Rowe envisions activities like latte art throwdowns and coffee competitions. With interactive events, local coffee shops and baristas can learn and grow together in this field. Rowe also has been surprised by how much support he sees in Fort Wayne after coming...

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Current Fort Wayne Events for the Weekend of 1.25.19
Jan22

Current Fort Wayne Events for the Weekend of 1.25.19

From Current Fort...

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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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