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...

Read More
Proximo – the Future of Downtown Dining is “Next”
Jun12

Proximo – the Future of Downtown Dining is “Next”

Downtown Fort Wayne has been growing exponentially and the restaurant scene is no exception. When The Golden closed its doors last November, rumors started flying as to who would come into the new space. I was incredibly excited to hear it would be none other than restaurant entrepreneurs James Khan, Pete Shuey, Lysa Pelkington and their amazing culinary team. You may know them from Baker Street, Hoppy Gnome, and Gnometown Brewing. Proximo means ‘next’ in Spanish and this is the next endeavor in the team’s growing restaurant empire. The restaurant is Latin inspired and will be open at 6 AM seven days a week, which will step up Fort Wayne’s brunch game. Having been an avid fan of its predecessors, I was thrilled to be invited to Proximo’s soft open this past weekend. The dinner menu was extensive and filled with so many items that I wanted to try that I was very glad I brought reinforcements that were willing to share. From five different ceviches, a variety of salad options, tantalizing appetizers, and entrees like street corn filet, my advice is to come hungry! I quizzed the group I brought and hands down our favorite appetizer that we tried was the Sope. Made with shrimp, Spanish chorizo, I’m pretty certain there may have been a fight over the last piece. The Tuna Tiradito was a close second. The combination of firm sliced tuna, fresh avocado, sweet pineapple and spicy jalapenos was truly a delight on the palate. I may have lightly stabbed someone in an attempt to steal all the jalapenos. I asked Khan what he recommended for our entrée choice and he said the Seafood Paella had been a huge hit so far. Initially he was not planning on having a paella option on the menu, but his wife Erika insisted that the menu wasn’t complete without it. Unfortunately, the paella was so popular that night that they sold out before I could sink my teeth into it. We did, however try the Salmon Succotash, Street Corn Filet, Pork al Pastor, and Ribeye a la Parrilla entrees all of which were flavorful and unique. The Patatas Bravas were divine and I could most certainly live on a diet solely comprised of it. You may think at this point that we couldn’t possibly have room for dessert, but if there is anything my dad has taught me, dinner is not complete without dessert! I was so full that I didn’t take a picture of the dessert menu, but I have included pictures of the actual desserts for your viewing/drooling pleasure. There was a hotly contested debate between which...

Read More
How to Hygge in Fort Wayne
Jan26

How to Hygge in Fort Wayne

About Hygge What is hygge? Aside from being a little difficult to pronounce (“hoo-guh”), the definition has an extremely easy to understand meaning. It encompasses the overall feeling of contentment, well-being, and being cozy. In our fast paced world, we often ignore these important feelings and practices. Lucky for us, it is very possible to hygge in Fort Wayne.   How to Hygge in Fort Wayne Contentment  Contentment is different for everyone. If you want to feel contentment, you should find something that you really enjoy and act on it. This could be catching a show at Embassy or checking out the latest performance from the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Promote Your Personal Well Being  It’s a new year and you have new opportunities to do something for yourself. Help your mind, body, and soul by joining a local gym or taking a yoga class. Coziness  Cozy is in the eye of the beholder. It can be going to an amazing coffee shop like Fortezza, or enjoying time with your friends at a warm and friendly bar like JK O’Donnells.   How to Achieve the Entire Hygge Package Winter Cozy is a hygge themed evening brought to you by Riverfront Fort Wayne. Everything about this speaks hygge. According to Megan Butler, this event will stimulate the senses. She uses Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to create a sense of wonder and connection through the taste, sight, touch, smell, and sound. The goal is to offer an amazing experience while re-defining winter. The event highlights the positives of winter (like a heated tent, cozy furniture, warm cocktails, food for purchase, live music from Ty Causey, sensory games, ice sculptures, and drink luges). The event will feature local ice sculptors and other local vendors like Mutton and Club Soda. Part of promoting your personal well-being and contentment will be highlighted through adult hands-on sensory activities. According to Megan Butler, you should think about sensory activities for autism. You can play with the activities and take them home. Riverfront Fort Wayne is committed to making people more conscious of the rivers. This event is an example of how people can live their lives around the rivers and have fun all year, even in the winter. Event Details Winter Cozy is a part of Winterval Admission is $10 at the door. Event Runs from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. This event is 21+ Sponsored by Alt 99.5, Riverfront Fort Wayne, and Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation. Winterval is a Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation event. Contact Megan Butler for additional...

Read More
Fostering creativity in the ’05 – Collective State
Jan19

Fostering creativity in the ’05 – Collective State

Tucked into the East State Village, across from Zinnia’s Bakery, is Collective State. This is Jon Brown’s latest brainchild. On an especially cold Fort Wayne day, it was wonderful to walk into the warm, sunlit shop and have Jon offer me a cup of freshly brewed Conjure Coffee. We bellied-up to the counter and he filled me in on his vision for the shop. “We started out as the Fort Wayne Arts Collective,” he said, over his coffee cup, “we’ve been doing art drops all over town for years, trying to make art more accessible to everyone regardless of income or background. I think art is a priority in people’s lives, but if you walk into a gallery and see that $200 price tag, it gets overshadowed by things like utilities and bills. Art drops change that, anyone can take art home and enjoy it.” The Arts Collective also did the Brass Rail mural, working with Jerrod Tobias. Through his work with Fort Wayne Free Art Collective, Brown discovered that he wants to devote his skill set and resources to being a advocate for the other artists, musicians, and makers in our community. “For the size Fort Wayne is, our creative community is stellar! We’re trying to sustain artists here and provide them a way to stay here instead of moving to a larger city,” explained Brown. Collective State is a physical space for that vision. He further described it as a low maintenance way to get art out, where artists can gain some money and support themselves. “We want to show Fort Wayne that there are tons of working artists here. It’s all from right here. That’s what the reaction has been when people come into the shop – ‘wow, they live here?’ Yes, they do!” Brown enthused. “Coming here and shopping you’re shopping local, supporting community, going directly back to the creative’s that live in your city.” As we stood talking, my eyes swept over the arrangement of prints, pint glasses, jewelry, stickers, hoodies, and woven goods. I noticed some CDs. Brown spoke eagerly about his desire to provide a space for local bands’ merchandise. “We have some wonderful local record stores, but [band merchandise] isn’t a focus. We want to give people an opportunity to get artists’ [merchandise] out there. If you don’t go to the bar or the show, where do you get the CD or t-shirt?” Not Just Retail Space So what can we expect from this new shop in the ’05? Brown wants to do as much as possible! “We’ll have art markets, food trucks, music, artist workshops, installation space, pop up shops…it’s not just retail space. We’re hoping it will become a hub for the community,” said Brown. “It’s so much about community...

Read More
Nawa – A New Beginning on the Landing
Jan09

Nawa – A New Beginning on the Landing

The new year is always filled with fresh starts. I am not a resolution type person, but what I do love about the start of a new year is how full of promise it seems. January always feels like an optimistic time of year. And what better time of year for Nawa (which means “new beginning” in Thai) to hit downtown Fort Wayne. Nawa is the newest restaurant to grace The Landing, which is one of the prime areas that the Downtown Development Trust in conjunction with the City of Fort Wayne and Greater Fort Wayne have focused on in their efforts to redevelop downtown Fort Wayne in order to make it an even more enjoyable place to live, work, and play. The idea is not just to revitalize the area but to reinvent it, and Nawa is doing just that. The menu is the reinvention of Thai cuisine in an Asian fusion, which highlights not just Thai food but Japanese, Chinese, and Korean flavors as well. Te Boriboonnangkul (AKA Boriboo), one of the operating partners, said that they didn’t want to limit their dishes to just one style. “Our chef makes a green curry pasta. You can take the various techniques from other cultures and combine it to elevate a dish,” she explained. Te and operating partner Prill Trowbridge are from Bangkok, Thailand and managed a Thai restaurant there for a number of years that was a well-known family hang out. They were drawn to each other by their love of food. “We love to eat!” Te laughingly explained. Prill and Te also did some work for a Thai steel company and in the process worked with some Steel Dynamics employees who were originally from Fort Wayne. When those employees moved back to Fort Wayne they missed the IT support that Prill and Te provided and thus began the process to woo them to move here. With Thailand fresh in the throes of the Asian Financial Crisis, it wasn’t too hard of a sell and both Te and Prill came to Fort Wayne 17 years ago and fell in love with the city. The idea was always there for a restaurant, especially in downtown Fort Wayne where there aren’t very many Asian cuisine options. “We wanted an upscale, refined place. Most places only focus on one genre of food. We wanted to do Thai with a modern twist!” Te noted. All the owners are long-time local residents and took great pride in the on-going revitalization of the downtown area. They wanted to be a part of the renaissance of The Landing and what better way to do that...

Read More