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...

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Ryu’s Kitchen – Creating a Unique Food Experience
Nov30

Ryu’s Kitchen – Creating a Unique Food Experience

If you’ve driven down the State and Hobson Road area the last few months you have most likely noticed two things: First, the seemingly never-ending construction (that is finally cleared up!) And second, the appearance of a cute new place called Ryu’s Kitchen. With bright colors, an open dining area with a counter bar, and motivational wall inscriptions, it is a very welcoming restaurant. The friendly staff makes it even more so.  Ryu had its soft opening at the end of August and has been delighting customer’s palates ever since. With a 4.9/5 rating on Facebook and a 4.5/5 rating on Yelp, I was incredibly excited to check it out! I met with owner Joohyun Riddle, née Ryu who has a true love for food. Born and raised in South Korea, Joohyun was a food nutrition major when studying in Korea. Not only did she learn the importance of the nutrition behind the dishes she now serves, she worked as a food stylist for commercials and learned to make the dishes look appealing as well, which is very important in today’s Instagram savvy society, where the aesthetics of the food adds to the overall enjoyment. She came as an international student to Long Beach, California where she had exposure to a variety of Asian foods that she missed when she moved with her husband, Josh Riddle, to his hometown of Marion. This brought about a Korean restaurant they opened in a mall in Marion six years ago. Luckily they moved to Fort Wayne and added to our ethnic food scene. I asked Joohyun if Ryu’s menu was traditional Korean food. “The young generation of Koreans make food simple. It has good flavor, is good looking, and has Korean based sauces,” Joohyun was quick to point out. While there are traditional dishes, such as Bulgogi, there are also a number of dishes that they have customized to bring a Korean twist to Fort Wayne. “I like to find my own niche and way to make a dish. I want people to know the new generation of Korean, not just the old-style way. I started doing dinners with our friends and did tasting menus with them to see what was popular.” Ryu accommodates a variety of dietary needs and has a number of vegetarian dishes including a new Tofu Rice Noodle dish and a Tofu Bulgogi dish. For my gluten free friends, any of the noodle or bulgogi dishes can be made gluten free and they even make separate sauces that are gluten free with which to cook. Joohyun also utilizes fresh, local ingredients in order to amp up the flavor...

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Fort Wayne Comedy Club
Aug08

Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Fort Wayne Comedy Club

After performing at his first open mic night years ago, Micheal Moses fell in love with comedy. For the past 12 years, he has performed at comedy clubs throughout the U.S. and Canada. Now Moses is back in Fort Wayne with the mission to make the city laugh.   Wanting to challenge the naysayers who constantly say there is nothing to do in Fort Wayne, Moses officially opened the Fort Wayne Comedy Club in June 2017. Located at 2104 South Calhoun Street, shows play every Saturday night. Tickets for the events can be bought in advance for $15 on their website, or $20 at the door. And in case you work up an appetite while laughing, the comedy club also provides southern style dinner options.   Looking down the road, Moses’ goal is to continue to make his business a world class comedy club that brings in headline performers that compete with larger markets.   Moses spoke a little bit about entrepreneurship in Fort Wayne, here’s what he had to say.   What made you decide to open a business in Fort Wayne/Northeast Indiana? For several years I have utilized several venues around town to promote the brand Mike Moses Presents under labels like Art & Soul of the City, Notes & Words, Link Up!, & Pro Amateur Comedy Showcase.  An opportunity opened up where I could add professional stand-up comedy to this repertoire.   What resource in the community has helped you thrive in the community?  The people! Like Randi Lincoln with her networking groups, Allen Helms, Jomare and Elizabeth Mizzell, as well as the folks at Anthony Wayne Medical Associates and Summit pharmacy, just to name a few. They have, and continue to lend their time, talent and knowledge not to mention access to their resources.   What is the biggest challenge you have worked to overcome in starting your business? In a word, the naysayers. What person has helped you the most in your journey?  The owners of 2104 better known as @2104 Fort Wayne   What is some advice you would have for new entrepreneurs? Before Columbus discovered the New World, Leonardo Da Vinci drew up the concept of a flying machine that could carry a person, his contemporaries labeled the idea as crazy. Some 500 years later people are actually flying. My point is this, never let a naysayer tell you it can’t be done, or that’s a crazy idea.   What would be the best thing Fort Wayne could do for entrepreneurs in your opinion? As we as a city move forward with the redevelopment of the downtown area, there needs to be a better...

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Bandidos – The New Generation
Jun06

Bandidos – The New Generation

If you are from Fort Wayne, you are no doubt familiar with the Bandidos chain of Mexican restaurants with their brightly colored buildings. But, you may not be aware of the recent change in concept of the Fort Wayne famous chain. I am not originally from Fort Wayne, so when I met with current owner Jimmie Schindler II, I asked him about the background of the restaurant.  I was surprised to hear that Bandidos had originally started as a pizza joint called Jimmie’s Pizza that was owned and operated by Jimmie’s dad, Jimmie Sr. It had several locations throughout Fort Wayne. In the ’80s, Jimmie Sr. and his wife went out for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and took note of the line around the block for what they considered passable Mexican fare. At the time there were very few Mexican restaurant options in Fort Wayne. This gave Jimmie Sr. the idea to start Bandidos in the ’80s and capitalize on the demand for Mexican food in Fort Wayne. After finishing his undergraduate degree at Notre Dame and his MBA at Purdue, he took over the Bandidos franchise from his dad in March 2013. Jimmie had interned for Domino’s in Ann Arbor, which gave him a number of ideas for their own family run business that he was excited to bring to fruition. “I was born and raised in this business,” Jimmie told me. “That lady that just seated us? She changed my diaper as a baby.” Talk about growing up in the family business! So what makes Jimmie tick? “Jesus, family, and tacos. In that order.” He wants something that he, his wife, Katie, and their three kids (Cecilia, Johannes, and Martin) would be proud of. “My wife is a scientist, and I sell tacos.” Just as his dad was many years before, Jimmie is a big proponent of listening to what his guests want and delivering. “The recipes are good, we have a number of Mexican chefs or even employees who get recipes from their relatives for us to recreate in our restaurant. What I kept hearing was our guests’ desire for the ingredients to be more transparent.” When Jimmie looked through the survey results, over 95% of their guests felt that freshness was important. The overwhelming majority were concerned about preservatives, quality, and customization. “In today’s world of so many food intolerances, it is important that we shift to meet our guest’s demands.” This is why they have customizable “build your own” options like the build your own bowl that I created complete with rice, shredded chicken, pico de gallo, bell peppers, and hot salsa. Even...

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Fort Wayne Food Tour –  Eat, Walk, Enjoy!
Mar27

Fort Wayne Food Tour – Eat, Walk, Enjoy!

This past Friday I was privileged to be a part of the inaugural Fort Wayne Food Tour, which was founded by Fort Wayne native and historian, Randy Harter and his daughter/digital marketing guru, Sarah Arnold.  The tour takes you through downtown Fort Wayne to eat tapas style portions at various local restaurants. Join me on my journey as I eat and tour the Fort! My tour, which consisted of 12 guests and Randy as our fearless guide, started at Don Hall’s Gas House. While I am a huge foodie and love to eat out, I normally choose the Deck (the outdoor patio across the parking lot of the Gas House overlooking the river) or even Takaoka (the entertaining Japanese hibachi restaurant upstairs) so I was excited to try something new. Our first course did not disappoint! Don Hall’s Gas House is famous for its steak and potatoes so that is exactly what they served.  A perfectly cooked filet mignon broiled at 1800 degrees topped with a garlic-herb butter, flavorful melt-in-your-mouth mashed potatoes, and sautéed mushrooms seasoned to perfection. Also included was a sample tasting of a 2011 Footbolt Shiraz that paired very nicely with the steak. My favorite part was when Don Hall’s grandson Ben came out to regale us with tales of the restaurant. Apparently Don Hall was obsessed with a restaurant in Chicago called George Diamond Steakhouse. So much so that he copied it right down to the uniforms and chairs. In fact, the chairs are the original from when the restaurant opened 59 years ago! It is in the site of a historic gas plant, which is where its name comes from. After sampling our first dish, it was great to stretch our legs and start the walking portion of our tour. As an added bonus it was a sunny 74 degrees, but Randy assured us that if it ever did rain he came equipped with ponchos.  The tour covered a 1.25 mile loop and was a very easy walk –  I did it in heels! (Although I am a professional shorty…the recommendation is to wear shoes that would be comfortable for a mile walk.) Randy brought history to life as he regaled us with stories about the Wabash and Erie Canal (we literally stood in the middle of where the canal used to be), the former German-American bank, which was renamed Lincoln National Bank & Trust Co due to anti-German sentiment during WWI, and perhaps the most harrowing was a story of how Anthony Wayne’s bones came to their final resting place after the flesh was boiled off of them. While I am not from Fort...

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