The New Year’s Eve party at Main Street Bistro and Martini Lounge was a night to be remembered.
The champagne was flowing, food was served and a good time was had by all.
But the event was also the last Fort Wayne restaurateur Todd Smith would host at the downtown dining and night spot as operating owner.
Smith, along with Bill Bean, opened Main Street in 2013 with the promise of bringing West Coast dining in an upscale cosmopolitan atmosphere to downtown.
But things didn’t go as smoothly as Smith had hoped. He went through several chefs and managers, and the menu saw several iterations. A Sunday brunch was introduced and then canceled. The restaurant was open for breakfast and lunch but the hours were later reduced or taken away. And then, night hours were reduced as well, with dinner available Wednesday through Saturday. Lunch is available Wednesday through Friday.
"No matter what I tried to do, it seemed like I was failing miserably," Smith says candidly. "It was hit or miss."
Special events, such as the New Year’s Eve party, were where Smith and the restaurant shined, and he could always count on them to be a big draw.
However, with his interest in his relatively new location of Mitchell’s Sports & Neighborhood Grill, Smith approached Bean in the fall about selling his shares in Main Street.
"I wasn’t overly surprised (that he approached me)," Bean says. "I know that he was focusing a lot of time and effort on Mitchell’s. I know that he thought that was a better fit for him and his talents and his time. It was something that just gradually came up."
The restaurant space at 200 E. Main St., which has been known as Park Place and L’Asiatique, is in the building owned by Bean. And though the space had sat vacant for some time between the closing of L’Asiatique and the opening of Main Street, a restaurant is a nice amenity to have, he says. The space, updated by Smith, is the prettiest restaurant in Fort Wayne, Bean says, and the outdoor dining offers a great view of Freimann Square in the spring and summer.
Instead of having a third party come in to operate the space, Bean decided that he would do it himself.
Among the more immediate changes will be expanded hours and a new menu. While Bean is rather mum on the details, diners can expect to see the restaurant open for lunch in February and it’s possible that Sunday brunch will make a comeback.
A steak and potatoes man, Bean says that he sees the menu focused on steaks, shrimp cocktail, great pastas and some seafood. While the downtown dining scene has grown since 2013 when Main Street opened, Bean has no plans to emulate other establishments with trendier menu options.
"In the restaurant business, you have to decide what you want to be and stick with it," says Bean, who owned Bill’s Bistro on Spy Run Avenue and is the major partner in Hotel Fort Wayne and its restaurants. "There were a lot of the changes that happened (in the Main Street space), and I think that confused people somewhat."
More for Bean
Businessman Bill Bean doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who has a lot of time on his hands, but he says he has bit of time and "decided to do something cool."
And that something cool is renovate a building on Spy Run Avenue, just north of downtown. The space has been home to restaurants such as Bill’s Bistro and Mid City Grill. The space at 1802 Spy Run Ave. has sat vacant since a brief stint as a teen club in 2014, but work on the site has recently been visible from the outside.
Over the years, Bean has maintained the building but decided late last year to do something with it himself.
The details of "something" have yet to be divulged but Bean assures me that it will be a dining establishment. To get the building ready to go, the inside has been gutted and a new roof installed and HVAC installed.
"I’m excited about it," he says. "I’ve hired some people at more of a corporate level to help manage these venues."
Focus on Asia
The Special Cuisines class at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast will kick off its spring semester dinner series with a menu featuring the cuisine of Asia.
The dinners are on Thursday nights in the hospitality room at the Coliseum Campus, 3800 N. Anthony Blvd. The cost is $25, with wine available for $5 a glass or $15 a bottle. Cash, check and credit are accepted.
Students in the class take turns creating, preparing, and serving world-cuisine themed meals for class credit. The culinary students rotate through various positions in the kitchen and dining room, providing a full restaurant experience.
The first dinner is at 6 p.m. Thursday. At 6 p.m. Feb. 2, the menu will focus on Southeast Asia and India. From there, the culinary tour goes to Italy, France, Spain and Greece, the Middle East and the Caribbean Islands.
To make reservations, which are required, go to IvyTech.edu/northeast/dinners. You can also call 481-2243.
Sandwich shop chain arriving
Adding to the city’s fast-casual restaurant landscape will be a Potbelly Sandwich Shop. Signs are on display in a space in the plaza on Coliseum Boulevard where Half-Price Books and Wendy’s Bridal are located.
According to the Potbelly website, the restaurant at 501 Coliseum Blvd. E. will open in April.
Potbelly, which began in 1977 in Chicago, is known for its toasted sandwiches, salads, soups and hand-dipped milkshakes. There is the Wreck, a sandwich with salami, roast beef, turkey, ham and Swiss cheese. The Grilled Mediterranean has chicken breast, feta cheese, hummus, artichoke hearts, cucumbers and roasted red peppers.
It will be the first location in the Fort Wayne area for the company. There are more than 400 stores with two other locations in Indiana – Mishawaka and Carmel.
• Move over Never Ending Pasta Bowl, there is a new promotion in town. Through March 6, Olive Garden is offering Never Ending Classics. The offer gives diners unlimited servings of the most loved Olive Garden menu items, starting at $11.99. The lineup features spaghetti with meat sauce, fettuccine Alfredo, Lasagna Classico, Chicken Alfredo and Chicken Parmigiana. Diners can mix and match among the featured dishes with each refill.
• The second Beer & Bacon Festival will be at Memorial Coliseum from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday. The event features more than 70 brews and local restaurants showcasing their bacon and pork-based treats. General admission tickets are $35. A VIP option is $55 and designated drivers are $19. To purchase, go online to events.eventzilla.net/e/beerbaconfest-2017-2138896223.
• Signs along St. Joe Center Road mark a new Salsa Grille location west of Maplecrest Road near the Jackson R. Lehman Family YMCA, which is under construction.
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.