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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, August 14, 2019 1:00 am

Back to school – and fall drinks, treats

Kimberly Dupps Truesdell | For The Journal Gazette

Firefly Coffee House customers were on the verge of mutiny, Cyndi Demaree jokes.

Years ago, the president/co-owner says, she tried to make the Pumpkin Pie Latte, Smashing Pumpkin Chai and cream cheese-filled pumpkin muffins seasonal items at the North Anthony Boulevard cafe.

But the customers would not have it. Customers wanted to be able to order all things pumpkin and spice year-round – not just when the weather was cooler and the leaves began to crunch.

While some might think it is the national chains driving the early arrival of fall with much awaited spiced lattes and baked goods, for local mainstays, it's more about the customers than what Starbucks is doing.

“Our experience has been that customers begin to ask for their favorite fall drinks and treats when school begins,” Demaree says.

If you balk at the popularity of pumpkin-flavored food and drinks, Nielsen reports that annual sales of pumpkin-flavored products were up 15.5% in 2018. And those sales were at a five-year high.

In September, Firefly (which recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary) will serve pumpkin crunch bread and several apple treats, such as caramel apple lattes and homemade spiced apple cider.

Mocha Lounge, which has two locations in the city, is known for a rotating seasonal menu and fall is no different. But diners have already spotted gluten-free pumpkin spice bars and apple spice bars that feel more autumn than summer.

Owner Brian Till says the fall lineup could launch as early as Monday or as “late” as Sept. 1.

The drink menu will include traditional favorites such as the pumpkin chai and caramel apple cider, as well as the more creative s'mores mocha, candy corn frappe and graham cracker chai.

The bakery menu will include pumpkin spice muffins, pumpkin scones, fall-themed cake pops, and pumpkin and apple hand pies. Selection will vary depending on the day.

But Jason Eyanson, a co-owner of West Central Microcreamery, is going to wait to roll out seasonal flavors.

“We don't feel much pressure to release the pumpkin stuff in full because of the national chains,” he says. “I've always thought they were rolled out way too early, and it keeps getting earlier! It's like having Christmas stuff in stores in October – it's just too early.”

However, the shop that makes homemade ice cream will have a number of pumpkin options in the fall.

As for those national chains?

Dunkin Donuts plans to release its fall menu Aug. 21. The options include the new Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Signature Latte, apple cider doughnuts, pumpkin doughnut and pumpkin muffins.

Starbucks released its pumpkin spice latte, or PSL, on Aug. 28 last year. A release date has not been set for 2019, but best guesses put it between Aug. 26 and Sept. 1.

More HopLore

HopLore Brewing announced this week that it plans to open a second location in Warsaw.

“Our second location will greatly expand our brewing capacity so that we can meet growing demand,” co-founder Stefan King says.

The company is leasing space at 501 Junction, a multitenant industrial building with a modern renovation at 501 Argonne Road in the gateway district between Warsaw and Winona Lake.

HopLore plans to start beer production this fall and open a taproom by the end of the year. King and co-founder Joseph Hull will partner with another firm to offer food service.

The company will maintain its first location at the Old Milford Mill near Leesburg. The facility opened in spring 2017 and has drawn visitors from nearly 30 states.

Since its founding in 2016, HopLore has earned a gold medal at the World Beer Championships, a bronze medal at the Brewers Cup and multiple people's choice awards.

Around town

Salvatori's, 10337 Illinois Road, will host a Passport Wine Dinner at 6 p.m. Monday. Chefs Brian Mongiello and Brian Shreffler will take diners on a tour of Italy, stopping at five different regions. The cost is $60 a person, taxes and gratuity included. Call 625-5600 for reservations.

• There will be a pop-up brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 25 at HT2, 10212 Chestnut Plaza. Mercadito Taqueria will take over the kitchen at the southwest cocktail lounge.

The Dish features restaurant news and food events and appears Wednesdays. Fax news items to 461-8893, email kdupps@jg.net or call 461-8304 at least two weeks before event or desired publication.