Cake is meant for celebrations. Whether it's a birthday or the birth of a baby, layers of light sponge and decadent buttercream are often the icing on a sweet event.
Excuse the pun.
And if you have celebrated one of those events in Fort Wayne, chances are you have had a taste of what Waynedale Bakery has to offer.
Operated by Christine Miller and her family, the shop on Lower Huntington Road has been a landmark in the city. It opened in 1955 under the ownership of Kyle Mason and his wife, Joan. Along with her parents, Miller purchased the business in 2002.
But now, Miller has put the bakery up for sale. In the event a buyer is not found, the doors will shut for good Oct. 31.
“My body is wearing down. I can't do it anymore,” she says, adding that the challenge of finding staff members contributed to her decision.
The bakery sells doughnuts, cookies, cakes and more to the Waynedale community and provides baked goods to local businesses. Nine Mile Restaurant, Rich's Cafe and Hill's Market sell her pies. Guests at Casa restaurants can celebrate a birthday with a Waynedale Bakery cake, as can patients of a local orthodontist when braces are removed.
Not only that, Waynedale Bakery has been making challahs for the Jewish community for decades.
While some businesses might find a new vendor, others might struggle. Miller says many customers have asked whether she would consider private baking, but she has said no.
Miller says she has had some potential buyers – although nothing confirmed. If one comes through, she is willing to help with the transition and provide recipes for Waynedale Bakery classics.
New Casa bakery
Thomas Parisi and the executive team at Casa Ristoranti Italiano did not understand the importance of bread until they were faced with the news that the bakers of their beloved bread were retiring.
The restaurant group first got the news about the pending retirement of Ronald and Margaret Rice of Indiana Baking Co. about two months ago, which meant that Casa executives needed to find a new supplier.
“The true challenge was finding a bakery that could handle fresh bread delivery five to six days a week with our volume,” Parisi says. “Our guests love Casa table bread. With the four restaurants combined, we're talking 14,000 loaves a week.”
In a year? It's about 725,000 loaves of bread. They have now found a bakery that can meet their needs.
Indiana Baking Co. ceased operations Sept. 21. It provided baked goods for local Pizza Huts, Hall's Commissary and too many other eateries to name, says Margaret Rice.
“We're getting too old to do this, and there's no help,” Margaret says. In more than 30 years in the business, she says this is the worst she has seen in terms of finding workers.
The Rices have no plans to continue in the restaurant business.
Trio of closures
It seems that superstition might be true – bad news comes in threes. Or, at least it seems to ring true on the local restaurant scene.
After six years in business, Tucano's Brazilian Grill has closed. The restaurant at Jefferson Pointe offered churrasco-style service, an extensive salad bar and a festive atmosphere. A hand-written sign on the door notified guests that it was closed.
The Jersey Mike's location at Northcrest Shopping Center has closed. There is a possibility that it will reopen in a different location, but a specific site has not been identified, according to Peter Shipman, Jersey Mike's area director. There are two other locations in Fort Wayne: 6408 W. Jefferson Blvd. and 10020 Lima Road.
Rack & Helen's Social House has closed at Coyote Creek Golf Club on Hillegas Road. According to a social media post, the business was affected by road closures as well as “our inability to fully staff the restaurant and provide an experience that we're all proud of.” The space will likely be used for catered events. Rack & Helen's Bar is still open at 525 Broadway St. in New Haven.
Food Tours sold
Fort Wayne Food Tours has a new set of owners.
Amber Bouthot has purchased the business from the father-daughter duo of Randy Harter and Sarah Arnold, who began offering the guided tours around the city three years ago.
The tours, which incorporated Harter's passion for architecture and history, took participants to various foodie spots around the city. Harter, who was the tour guide, is a local historian and author of three books on the city's history as well as a frequent guest lecturer on Fort Wayne history to area nonprofits, service organizations and business groups.
Bouthot, editor for Glo and Home Living magazines, and her husband, Adam Bouthot, are excited about the venture and have ideas to bring to the business. Tours will resume as in spring 2020.
For information, go to www.fortwaynefoodtours.com.
The opening of the new Portillo's restaurant next to Glenbrook Square mall might be weeks (or months) away, but the city can still get a taste.
Beginning Monday, Portillo's will hit the road with The Beef Bus, a 2019 Ford F59.
The food truck will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. daily. A menu of Portillo's favorites will be available while supplies last. You can track the food truck and get location updates by following @beefbusofficial on Instagram and Twitter.
Portillo's is also hiring at the restaurant, with plans to bring in more than 100 employees. Applicants can go to www.portillos.com/careers or text “Portillos” to 25000 to set up an interview. Job seekers can also apply in-person at the Portillo's Hiring Center at the Ramada Plaza & Conference Center, 305 E. Washington Center Road.
The hiring center will open Monday, with hours 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.
Portillo's Fort Wayne is slated to open this year on the site of the former Sears at Glenbrook Square. The 7,800-square-foot restaurant will include seating for more than 190 guests, a seasonal outdoor patio with seating for 48 guests, and a double drive-through.
Stand fall change
The Stand Coneys & Ice Cream, 5200 Bluffton Road, will shut down the ice cream machines for the season Sunday.
But in a new menu twist, the operators will spend the fall serving breakfast classics.
Starting Oct. 14, menu items will include breakfast sandwiches, biscuits and gravy, waffles and Utopian Coffee. Hours will be 6 to 10:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and 7 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
The regular menu, including, coneys will not be available after Sunday.
Corey McMaken of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.
The Dish features restaurant news and food events and appears Wednesdays. Fax news items to 461-8893, email email@example.com or call 461-8304 at least two weeks before event or desired publication.