If Mark Melchi has learned anything in his years in the restaurant business, it's that it is challenging to know what to expect.
So it was with a bit of caution and reservation that the owner of the Lucky Moose on Dupont Road watched the road construction signs go up near his restaurant.
A stretch of one of the main thoroughfares on the city's north side is undergoing a $12.1 million widening project that will take two summers to complete. To start, part of Dupont between Salomon Farm Park and Dawsons Creek Boulevard/La Cabreah Lane closed to through traffic April 30. The section is expected to remain closed through July, making it harder to get to some of the restaurants in the area.
Now three weeks into the construction, Melchi still doesn't have a good feel for the effect the work will have on his business.
Sales at the Lucky Moose are down just a hair, he says, but that could be due to any number of things from Cinco de Mayo to warmer weather drawing people elsewhere.
But he might be losing money, he says, as he typically sees sales grow about 10 percent each year.
Still, Melchi might be among the lucky ones. Tom Parisi reports that Casa Grille has seen sales dip 20 percent since the construction began. It's a “significant impact,” as you can imagine, he says.
“Roads/detours are open if guests are willing to utilize Carroll Road, Wallen Road, Till Road,” he adds.
Staff at Black Canyon, which is near Lima and Dupont roads, has also been taking care to direct customers of the best way to get to the restaurant.
The steakhouse, which is open for lunch and dinner, has seen business decline since the construction began but most affected has been lunch.
According to general manager Josh Crawford, customers have commented that the detours cut into a time-crunched lunch hour.
Still, a dip in dinner sales has not gone unnoticed. To help draw customers in, Black Canyon will offer construction specials for lunch and is now offering appetizer specials from 4 to 6 p.m.
At Casa Grille, the restaurant is getting ready to roll out $5.99 lunch specials, a discounted dinner menu and coupons to help promote the location.
Lucky Moose will also be doing some specials this summer. The salad bar will be available for $7.77 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. There are also three new appetizers, which Melchi is testing out as he prepares to unroll a new menu. All $8.88, the features are Thai peanut shrimp, lobster dip and smoked salmon cakes.
When the project is completed next year, the wider Dupont will include four travel lanes with dedicated turn lanes.
“I think it will be great once the road is open,” Crawford says. “We just have to get there.”
Creating “inventive brews for the adventurous spirit,” a new brewery is preparing to open its doors in Fort Wayne.
Just south of Fernhill Avenue, 2Toms Brewing Co. is setting up shop at 3676 Lima Road. Equipment for the brewery, which will feature a tasting room, was delivered on Saturday and construction is coming along.
Tom Carpenter is the mastermind behind the operation, having gotten his start when his wife gave him a home brew kit.
Among his creations are a Russian Imperial Stout, with deep chocolate and vanilla layers. The Ali'i was inspired by the Hawaiian island of Kona. It is a kettle sour aged with guava and bright red hibiscus flowers.
While he waits for the brewery to open, Carpenter has been showcasing his beer at local events such as the Auburn Spring Fest.
A new bakery in Columbia City will host an open house June 1 to showcase its sweet treats and baked goods.
As part of Columbia City's First Friday event, Blue Moon Bakery will open its doors at 101 S. Main St. from 6 to 9 p.m.
A limited selection of treats will be available for purchase. On June 2, the bakers will be at the city's farmers market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. (or until items sell out).
The bakery is owned by Tony Flanagan. With a background in graphic design, Flanagan was inspired to decorate cakes after seeing shows on Food Network. What began as a hobby turned into a job, and Flanagan found himself pursuing a degree at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast's hospitality program.
Blue Moon Bakery, as a family business, will begin with a limited menu. As Flanagan receives feedback from customers, he will build out the selections and offer seasonal varieties of their main products. The full menu will include breads, scones, doughnuts, cookies and other sweet and savory treats.
Olive Garden fans are going to become the chef with a new promotion that begins Tuesday.
With the restaurant's first-ever “create your own lasagna” special, guests will be able to layer the classic entrée 24 ways.
Guests will start with the four-cheese lasagna and will then be able to select sauce (meat sauce, marinara, Alfredo, five-cheese marinara) and toppings (garden veggies, cheese ravioli, mini meatballs, chicken fritta, grilled chicken and sauteed shrimp).
The Lasagna Mia promo starts at $12.99 and will run through July 22.
The Dish features restaurant news and food events and appears Wednesdays. Fax news items to 461-8893, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 461-8304.