A popular Indianapolis-based sports bar chain plans to get a new restaurant up and running in Fort Wayne by early 2013, though not in the downtown Harrison building as city officials and developers hoped.
Scotty's Brewhouse expects to acquire a site in either the city's northwest or southwest side sometime in the next month and start construction in the next 60 days, founder and CEO Scott Wise said. Wise had considered opening a location in the Harrison but backed out after the downtown project stalled.
“The Fort Wayne market never left our radar,” Wise said. “It's always been one of our target markets that we wanted to open in.”
The college-geared chain started in Muncie in 1996 before extending to Bloomington, West Lafayette and Indianapolis. It now operates nine restaurants throughout central and southern Indiana. A Fort Wayne restaurant would be the chain's tenth location.
Wise said he gave the Harrison a second look at the end of 2011, after developers secured key funding that allowed the project to move forward. While he liked the Harrison's uniqueness, Wise said he had doubts that a downtown restaurant could attract strong crowds year-round, especially on weeknights and in wintertime.
“I really think the Harrison project is a great project,” he said. “I just feel the southwest side and northwest side is more suited for what our brand has become.”
Scotty's had been discussed as a star tenant of the Harrison for more than a year before withdrawing from the project in early 2011. Developers earlier this year said they had resumed talks with two “major restaurants” about renting space in the four-story building.
A spokesman for development group New Harrison did not immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment Monday.
O'Reilly's Irish Bar and 3Rivers Federal Credit Union have signed on for first-floor space in the building, while Carson Boxberger Attorneys will occupy the entire second floor. The top two floors will be dedicated to apartments.
If a new Scotty's opens in early 2013, it would closely align with the Harrison's planned February opening.
Wise would not disclose details of where he was hoping to build the new restaurant, citing ongoing negotiations for a land purchase. But he said the northwest location would be in the Dupont Road area.
Wise said Fort Wayne made an attractive market for Scotty's because of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and because he sees the city as a pipeline for students and alumni of Ball State, Indiana and Purdue universities.