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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Casa Grille on Stellhorn Road is open Sunday evenings until 9.

The hunt for a restaurant open Sunday night

About a month ago, my fiance got home from working late on a Sunday.

“I just want a beer,” he said, so we went out in search of a beer and a late dinner.

The search was a little harder than we would have thought. I knew Fort Wayne closed early on Sundays, but I didn’t quite appreciate just how much of Fort Wayne closed down – or wasn’t open to begin with – until we started our scavenger hunt.

Our first stop downtown was unsuccessful. Across the street, another restaurant was closed as well. (To explain how late we were driving around, one place closed at 9 p.m. So this was an after-9 p.m. search.)

So we tried another location along East State Boulevard. Closed on Sundays.

We continued to drive east on State Boulevard and remarked on how dark the street was.

Finally, success!

Dicky’s Wild Hare, on Maplecrest Road, is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays and has been since Katie Webb started at the restaurant 13 years ago, she says.

“It’s steady throughout the day,” says Webb, who has been the restaurant’s owner for three years and general manager for six.

There’s the after-church crowd and a late lunch crowd, and while it’s not terribly busy in the evenings, there is a crowd of sports fans who find their way to the bar and grill.

“Anywhere you sit in the restaurant, you can see a TV, and guys like that, especially for the football,” Webb says.

It may be harder to find a place to take in a late-night dinner, but it’s not impossible. Because of diners’ eating habits, many restaurants have changed their dining hours.

All four locations of Casa Ristoranti Italiano are open seven days a week, but that wasn’t always the case, says Tom Parisi, director of operations for the restaurant group. The restaurant on Parnell Avenue was closed on Sundays eight years ago, and the West Jefferson Boulevard location was closed on Mondays a decade ago.

It’s not uncommon for independently owned restaurants to have a day off during the week because when a restaurant is small, the owner is doing everything himself, Parisi says. He’ll look at the week and figure out the slowest day – usually Sunday or Monday – and close.

Mondays are the slowest for Casa restaurants, he says, though Sundays are the third-busiest day, due in large part to the church crowd and the dinner crowd.

Being open six days a week is something that’s not uncommon for nonchain restaurants nationally, Parisi says. Off the top of his head, he’s able to name only one national restaurant chain that is not open daily: Chick-fil-A is closed Sundays, for religious reasons.

“When you first start off as an independent owner, you’re there all the time,” he says. “You’re working day and night 24/7. It’s to the point where it’s a day off for the owner (and the employees).”

Locally, the nonchain restaurants that seem to be open on Sundays are largely – though not entirely – bar and grills, which isn’t too surprising. A number of these pubs have menus worth perusing, so it’s about more than the beer at these bar and grills.

The Corner Pocket Pub, on Saint Joe Center Road, is open from noon to midnight on Sundays.

Duty’s Buckets Sports Pub & Grub, on West Jefferson Boulevard, attracts Sunday diners with its half-price wings from 9 to 11 p.m., manager Ryan Hilker says. Its hours are 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., and Hilker says the Sunday night crowd isn’t much different than the crowd on other nights.

“A lot of people turn out for the NFL, and Sunday nights, we usually get a good crowd for the night game,” Hilker says.

If you’re not into the bar-and-grill atmosphere, Don Hall’s Prime Rib Restaurant on State Boulevard is open until 10:30 p.m. on Sundays. The ebb and flow of the crowd is about the same on Sundays as it is on other days of the week, manager Kathy Wilcox says, and diners will often stick with Sunday specials, including a prime rib, Swiss steak and fried chicken.

Casa restaurants are open until 9 p.m.

There. Now the next time we find ourselves hungry on a Sunday evening, we won’t have to drive around aimlessly through the streets of Fort Wayne.