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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LFW’s Instagram is Rockin’
Dec01

LFW’s Instagram is Rockin’

If you’re big into Instagram, check out Living Fort Wayne’s Instagram content today! Our team gives you a look at all the things you can discover in Fort Wayne! Here’s a sneak peak at some of the content that went up in November. @banhmiphoshop at 1925 Fairfield Avenue continues to serve up deliciousness. Plan a trip today. #FortWayne A post shared by Living Fort Wayne (@livingfortwayne) on Nov 28, 2017 at 12:09pm PST Night of Lights 2017! #HolidayFestFW A post shared by Living Fort Wayne (@livingfortwayne) on Nov 23, 2017 at 6:17pm PST The “Snow Days” exhibit is now open at The Conservatory! #DTFW #FortWayne A post shared by Living Fort Wayne (@livingfortwayne) on Nov 21, 2017 at 9:43am PST @riverfrontfortwayne partnered with City Utilities to give a behind-the-scenes look at the city’s water filtration plant today. A post shared by Living Fort Wayne (@livingfortwayne) on Nov 11, 2017 at 8:34am PST A big shout out to Drew, Devin, Aleiyaa, and Keaira and many others from The Crossing for their help with the #columbiaavenuebetterblock project! #FortWayne A post shared by Living Fort Wayne (@livingfortwayne) on Nov 4, 2017 at 3:50pm PDT Discover a new view in #FortWayne! Check out the Hanson Quarry Observation Deck! #quarry #NEIpride A post shared by Living Fort Wayne (@livingfortwayne) on Nov 1, 2017 at 5:38pm...

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LFW Member Spotlight – Stephen J. Bailey
Mar22

LFW Member Spotlight – Stephen J. Bailey

  Have you ever wondered who the people behind Living Fort Wayne are? Or maybe you’re curious about the different things our team does every day that make Living Fort Wayne the go-to destination for all the great things happening in our city. In this new spotlight series, we’ll be featuring a few of our amazing volunteers who will share a bit about their contributions to Living Fort Wayne and what they do outside of their volunteer work with us. Today we are spotlighting the man behind the curtain of our popular Living Fort Wayne Instagram account, Stephen J. Bailey! What is your role with Living Fort Wayne and why did you decide to volunteer for us? I volunteered because I really love our community. I remember being at the very first meeting for LFW almost five years ago and am proud at how much it has evolved. I don’t know many volunteer-based organizations in our area that have this kind of staying power. I currently write one quarterly article featuring the people and places of Fort Wayne, manage the LFW Instagram account, and am the back up for the other social media channels. Tell us one thing about your life outside of Living Fort Wayne! I eat more sushi than anyone that I know. Fort Wayne’s sushi cuisine and options have grown exponentially in the last decade and I’ve sampled them all. I know friends from outside states that envy our sushi options and it makes me think, “If we can be envied for something as simple as sushi, then I can’t wait to see the future of the Riverfront, downtown development, and high speed rail in our area.” If you could live any place in the world, besides Fort Wayne, where would you live and why? Austin, Texas. It’s close to the beach. It has that southern charm with a liberal balance to it. It’s full of techies, creatives, great food, great weather, and a bright future. I often think of it when working for our future in Fort Wayne. They have completely changed how people think of their city. If you had a friend coming in from out of town, what is the one can’t miss thing you would show them or do with them in Fort Wayne? I would take them kayaking on the river followed by dinner at one of our local downtown establishments. The river is an incredible yet spiritual experience, and our food here is second to none. If you were going to karaoke tonight, what song would you sing? I can kill it as Stephan Jenkins from Third Eye Blind but my...

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Our Top 10 Articles from 2016
Dec28

Our Top 10 Articles from 2016

This year was an exciting year in Fort Wayne! We saw several new businesses and events come to our city. Take a look at our top articles for 2016! First up, clocking in at number ten, our article on the eighth annual Taste of the Arts Festival by Stephen J. Bailey was a hit with our readers this year. Keep an eye out in 2017 for information about the next festival (and keep supporting the arts)! Bravas, tacos and our new “Food & Drink” writer Reneta Thurairatum. What more could you want from an article? Checking in at number nine for the year, The Tacos Are Coming at Tacos Bravas. At number eight, the “Food & Drink” series continued to be popular as Reneta gave us the lowdown on GnomeTown Brewing Co. in June. At number seven, Reneta checked in with Junk Ditch Brewing Company to get a taste of their entry in Fort Wayne’s Weekend Brunch Game in July. Information about food and dining options was popular all year in Fort Wayne. Coming in at number six, Travis Bartlett and the team gave us their picks for the top breakfast and brunch spots in the city in February! And coming in at number five, Rhonda Ladig Moxter gave us a rundown of Thanksgiving Dinner Alternatives in Fort Wayne. Coming in at number four is Rivers Relaxation, A New Way to De-Stress in Fort Wayne by Leslie Snare. This article about one of Fort Wayne’s newest stress relief options has only gotten more popular in recent months. Our always popular listicle on Pumpkin Patches, Corn Mazes, and More Fall Fun (updated by Micheala Pattison) checked in at number three for the year. Coming in at number two, The Golden Fort Wayne was preparing for its debut at the Ash Brokerage building in downtown Fort Wayne. Becca Bell caught up with Aaron Butts, Carmen McGee and Sean Richardson in this extensive Q&A from January. And finally coming in at number one for 2016, a new sweet spot hopped into downtown Fort Wayne. Reneta got the scoop in The Yummi Bunni Is Hopping onto Fort Wayne’s Food Scene. This article about ice cream treats was HOT, HOT, HOT! We can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for Fort Wayne! Keep up with Living Fort Wayne on Facebook, Twitter and...

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