Dynamic? Yes. Eccentric? Most definitely. Encompassing the spirit of 46805–from its sprawling Glenbrook Mall and grand Memorial Coliseum to its teeny hole-in-the-wall hangouts–is challenging.
Brimming with local businesses both time-tested and cutting-edge are the most distinctive areas, East State Village and the North Anthony Corridor, which lie at the heart-center of the zip code.
One of the city’s miniature bohemian havens, replete with a population as diverse as its recreation options, nestles in the neighborhoods surrounding Lakeside Park–between the northeast edge of downtown and the campuses for Ivy Tech and IPFW.
To discover some roots of the personality of this pocket of the Summit City, one can look to the history of the terrain Native American communities alongside the Maumee River knew as Kekionga, “The Blackberry Patch.”
The area wasn’t really developed by European settlers until the early 20th century, when levees were built to handle the swampy area at the convergence of the St. Joe and Maumee rivers.
Since then, it has been a magnet for scores of residents who want to be near downtown while still enjoying some green space. the favorite being Lakeside Park, especially when its resplendent rose garden is in bloom.
In the fall and winter months, visitors can still admire the structural beauty of the garden’s design, especially the sunken gardens, which were completed by park superintendent Adolph Jenicke in 1925 and renovated in 2005-2006.
Following a trail of copper leaves back to the gardens, exit Lakeside onto Forest Park Boulevard, the tree-lined street of historic mansions built by Louis F. Curdes in 1905, to admire the architecture: you’ll find Colonial revival, Tudor revival, American Foursquare, Minimal Traditional and Craftsman-style houses.
Though there is much to do in the East State Village, first trek north to the North Anthony Corridor, the largest surviving residential example of landscape architect George Kessler’s 1911 plan for Fort Wayne.
Coffee & Nibbles
What better place to start the day than Old Crown Coffee Roasters? Its blue and yellow striped awning beckons regulars like a beacon.
“Champagne taste at a pauper’s price,” is the motto of owner Mike Woodruff, and while Old Crown originally sold and served only its house-roasted coffee beans, devotees know Woodruff’s spectrum of mind-altering beverages expanded to include adult beverages some years ago. The Coffee & Cigarettes with Irish whiskey, cold-extracted espresso, espresso liqueur and house-made tobacco bitters and the Bourbon Sprawl with chai-infused bourbon are favorites, but don’t miss the Gin Camille–gin, green Chartreuse and muddled lime topped with ginger beer.
However, new visitors should drop in on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday evening, when Woodruff gives Chef Jeremy Selvio free reign over an exquisite dinner menu. Selvio rarely repeats a dish, and while he draws inspiration from all over the globe, he often only needs to step out Old Crown’s back door (through the room full of pin-ball machines) to its garden for ingredients. Not a weekend evening? Don’t fret. Old Crown has you covered with solid menu of soups, wraps and salads.
The other equally excellent coffee and sandwich option is the colorful Firefly Coffee House, a neighborhood staple owner Cyndi Demaree opened nearly 20 years ago. The cozy hang-out assured its longevity with an expansion of the breezy outdoor seating area while the inside boasts more seating than ever (but without forgoing everyone’s favorite couches).
While waiting in line, turn around. On the wall opposite the counter is a shelf stocked with eclectic goods from local producers–everything from apparel and accessories to décor, coloring books, even handmade body care products.
Too much caffeine already? Try one of Firefly’s many smoothie options, all made with real fruit. And unless you want it to haunt your dreams, do not try the peanut butter mocha shake.
Speaking of sugary beverages, head across the street to Sweets So Geek for Harry Potter-inspired butter-beer with a scoop of house-made ice cream (if it’s cold, butter-beer can be served hot). The sweetshop also makes candy, pastries, cupcakes and custom cakes in exciting flavors like bergamot vanilla bean, pear compote & ginger and lemon-lavender.
“p3″>Sweets So Geek pays homage to all things “geeky“–Star Wars, Dr. Who, comic books–and the inspiration provides “head cake guy” owner Chad Seewald with plenty of ideas for confections. Take for instance the Hoth-Chocolate spoons: Darth Vader-shaped chocolate spoons served with steamed milk and gourmet marshmallows. On October 8, Sweets So Geek will host the last of its seasonal outdoor film series with the Tim Burton flick Beetlejuice–with themed confections of course.
The bright orange floral logo of Zinnia’s Bakehouse is a cheerful welcome (or send-off, depending on your direction of travel) to the East State Village. Inside, a mother-daughter team serves up cookies, cupcakes, macarons and baklava. But the specialty of Aracely Vega and daughter Krystal Vega Hernandez is empanadas–which are like turnovers. The duo prepares both sweet and savory hand-crafted empanadas, with fillings like peach, cherry or apple or ham, sausage or chorizo.
Back on North Anthony, you’ll find a location of 35-year-old local record store Wooden Nickel, which not only peddles new and used music in all formats but also hosts live music each month. Having survived into the age of digitally downloaded tunes, Wooden Nickel is experiencing a resurgence. Vinyl records are hot. And, believe it or not, cassette tapes are making a come-back, too.
Next door is used bookstore The Bookmark, which has been open 24 years. Over that time, owner Lanni R. Connelley said, the space has gradually expanded from 500 to 2,000 feet. The front room’s walls are lined with paperbacks begging to be read–from romance and mystery to the classics. Bookworms, plan ahead and bring a canvas tote: Most of the books are priced at less than $5.
Who loves to spoil their pet? Don’t be ashamed. If your best friend is of the canine variety, Green DogGoods is a holy grail for all things canine. Upon first glance, the glass case beneath the cash register seems to be stocked with doughnuts and cookies. Look closer: lamb lung filets, chicken heart chews and beef liver chips–oh my! And your pooch will be feeling extra spry after visiting the apothecary, where business owners Jody Norton and Lesley Buckmaster provide herbal, homeopathic remedies like tinctures and topical treatments.
Talk about a blast from the past. North Anthony corridor houses its own butcher shop, Jamison’s Meats, which has been open since 1946. The iconic bovine sculpture perched above the parking lot conjures nostalgia for residents and visitors alike, and inside high-quality and oftentimes locally-sourced meats are prepared and cut-to-order.
No omnivore can survive on meat alone, and the Health Food Shoppe has supplied the neighborhood with fresh, organic provisions since 1973–fresh produce, dry bulk and pre-packaged. In addition to the salad bar and signature deli items, the shop provides a comprehensive homeopathic section, with thoughtful consultants on hand to offer sage advice.
Food & Booze
Head over to the restaurant that introduced Fort Wayne to the dishes of Thailand. Baan Thai Restaurant has transformed what used to be Atz’s Ice Cream Shoppe on North Anthony into a haven for lovers of the Southeast Asian cuisine. Always inquire about the chef’s daily features.
“p3″>“Where Neighbors Meet” is Acme Bar & Grill‘s slogan, and indeed it’s true. The casual joint has served traditional comfort food and pizza for years, and its craft beer program is enough to make any hophead drool. And after much insistence from the community, Acme is now allowing patrons to sample its taps with beer flights.
A swankier spot to grab a drink with dinner is Nick’s Martini & Wine Bar, where diners can meet friends to share appetizers or indulge in a three-course meal. Try the Summit City Sparkler: Three Rivers Distillery Summit City Gin, ginger, lemon, cherry juice and champagne with a sugared rim. The best part about Nick’s? The already-metropolitan vibe is amped up by jazzy live music every Wednesday through Saturday evening.
The Rib Room, adjacent to Nick’s, has been a Fort Wayne staple since 1957 and was revitalized in 2016. Legend has it Petros Gounaris, who’s been making the proprietary barbecue sauce for 40 years, comes and goes as he pleases; the sauce mystically appears. Drop in to check out the revamped menu, which boasts tempting options for hearty, all-American fare.
Already had a few and worried about your filter? Looking for a beer without all the questions about flavor profile? Head across the street from Nick’s to State Bar & Grill for a no-frills, super-friendly dive with lots of Hoosier pride a big, big heart.
Although there are plenty of neighborhood eatery options, sometimes it’s nice to head home with a new book to thumb through or record to spin, a loaf of bread from Zinnia’s, a steak from Jamison’s, fresh produce from the Health Food Shoppe. Sometimes it’s nice to just snuggle on the couch with a furry friend to watch some television.
Sure, watch some television, and thank inventor Philo Farnsworth, whose former residence is 734 East State Boulevard. That’s right, smack dab in the center of 46805.
Mural by Jerrod Tobias on the side of Studio Seva yoga.