Taco bus joins Bravas lineup

Shop small, support local merchants this season

Art by Matthew Plett, courtesy photo

Shop small, support local
Since I’ve been writing this column, I’ve had the pleasure of chronicling many of the terrific new, local businesses that have opened over the years. While some have closed, many are still thriving, thanks in part to the supportive Fort Wayne community. I’m beyond thrilled to have so many of these businesses to choose from, and I delight in spending my dollars locally. As you shop for holiday gifts for loved ones, co-workers, teachers, etc., this year, challenge yourself to buy as much as you can from Northeast Indiana merchants. There’s so much to choose from, especially downtown. Fancy & Staple stocks fun and funky accessories for men and women, unique home decor and some outrageously silly accoutrements, like a donut lapel pin that features a four-letter word – I adore that stuff. Idlehour’s selection of athleisure wear just can’t be beat, plus they sell chic jewelry, candles and other small goods. Lace & Arrow’s walls are chock full of clothing, cool sunglasses and ankle booties. House of Furniture has a huge array of one-of-a-kind, big and small furniture, decorative accents and more. City Exchange is a mini-mall of local artists and artisans with lots to offer no matter your budget. The FIND is a haven for stylish men, women and children with loads of jewelry, clothing, books, cards and more, plus a well-curated baby section. The new, highly anticipated location of Hedgehog Press opens this month in the old Canton Laundry building on Broadway and will be just one more cool, local business to shop and support. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, gift cards from local vendors. In addition to these stores, we have so many fab, locally owned restaurants to support. Take a break from holiday shopping and grab lunch or take your family out for a fun holiday dinner at Tolon, Junk Ditch, The Golden, J.K. O’Donnell’s, Hoppy Gnome and more. Beyond downtown, there are so many more amazing businesses that work hard to bring our community great food, cool merch and amazing services. This year, perhaps more than ever before, it’s super easy and important to shop small, support local!

Bravas’ Taco Bus
Bo Gonzalez, owner of Bravas, started with a small hot dog cart in 2011, adding a full-fledged food truck and then a brick and mortar restaurant, all in his early 20s. I’m a big fan of Gonzalez, his delicious food and his friendly team. My family and I are regulars at the Wednesday night food truck rally on Rudisill in the warmer months and love to hit up the burger joint all year long (I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m absolutely in love with the Bravas veggie burger). I’m excited about Gonzalez’ next addition to the lineup, a reclaimed, retrofitted school bus which will serve an ever-changing array of tacos with house made corn tortillas, a delightful hibiscus tea, courtesy of Gonzalez’ equally delightful fiancée, Karen, and an ahhhmazing flan, made using a treasured Gonzalez family recipe, passed to them long ago from a Cuban friend. It’s silky smooth and delicately sweet, perfect for those of us who don’t like especially rich desserts. While the taco bus won’t be on the streets in the dead of winter, the tacos will be available, in addition to the regular burger menu, every Tuesday at the brick and mortar restaurant. See you at Bravas on #TacoTuesday? Bravas is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Sat. at 3412 Fairfield Ave. To learn more about each available menu, mobile or otherwise, and special events visit www.bravasfood.com or call (260) 745-7002.

Graphic art by Matthew Plett
Dad by day, designer by night, graphic artist Matthew Plett has been working in the design/art field in some way or another for about 12 years. I started seeing his work show up all over town and had to find out more. Whether it’s art prints sold on etsy.com, branding and design for local companies (such as Bravas) and organizations (such as NeighborLink) or hand lettering that elevates everyday items, Plett’s work is both charming and cool. I particularly enjoy his lettering over framed art. Plett gathers vintage paintings and gives them a modern update by adding a favorite quote, a family name and so on. I’ve seen so many marvelous examples, I’ve ordered one for my own home. They make for really inventive gifts for holidays, weddings and birthdays. And if you play your cards right, you might even be able to commission one for the holidays. To see examples of Plett’s work, visit www.mattplett.com and follow him on Instagram @datmattmatt. For sizing, pricing and more details, email matthewplett@gmail.com.

First appeared in the December 2016 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine.

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