Book highlights city’s ‘Classic’ eateries

March 6, 2019 GMT

For 42 years, Zoltan Herman prepared and served the recipes that he brought from Hungary.

His restaurant, Zoli’s, was the kind of place that people who grew up in Fort Wayne : or lived here for any amount of time : fondly remember. Situated on the Broadway corridor, dishes such as chicken paprikas and pizza made their way from the kitchen to the tables.

It was the kind of place where you recall enjoying a meal with family or going on a date, says author Keith Elchert, who is also a copy editor for The Journal Gazette.

Elchert, along with Laura Weston, recently penned the book “Classic Restaurants of Fort Wayne.”


The book features more than 70 restaurants that helped to define the landscape of the city.

It is scheduled to be released April 29 by History Press, an affiliate of Arcadia Publishing. It will be available on Amazon.

“As someone with an interest in history and an interest in food, there are many worthwhile stories to be told,” Elchert says. “It’s worth having them all together in one place.”

The book, which took about four to six months to write, features family favorites, burger spots, more upscale establishments, ethnic eateries and restaurants that have closed. There are familiar favorites such as Don Hall’s, Paula’s on Main and Casa restaurants.

Nine Mile Restaurant is also among the spots included. While it’s slightly outside city limits, the establishment on U.S. 27 might be the oldest continuously operating tavern in the state, Elchert says. It has been open in some way since 1837.

“Everyone loves to have their story told. It almost validates the history that you’ve lived is worthy of being passed down and preserved,” Elchert says. ”... It’s nice to have your name on (the book), but the important thing is that the people who lived the history have their words and deeds preserved.”

Elchert and Weston have written two other books together : one about the Lincoln Highway and the other about Tiffin, Ohio. Elchert says some of the work for “Classic Restaurants” began with “Honest Eats: Celebrating the Rich Food History of Indiana’s Historic Lincoln Highway.” Since it was published in 2016, some of the places have closed or, in some cases, been bulldozed. The books can be the only proof that the places exist.

The new book is not a definitive list of classic restaurants, Elchert says. And as historians and foodies, he and Weston are excited to hear about the places they may have missed. New information could be included in a second edition or even another book, he says.


Metro no more

The diner chain made famous on Food Network has closed its Fort Wayne restaurant after 11 months.

Metro Diner shut its doors on Coldwater Road for the last time Sunday. Already on Monday, signage and other items were taken down from the building.

It opened in April 2018.

“This is strictly a business decision and is not a reflection of our team’s dedication to serving the community,” says Crafton Bryant IV, director of marketing for Metro Diner.

Employees were notified Sunday.

“We are helping them with this transition including severance packages,” Bryant says.

A Metro Diner location near Butler University in Indianapolis also closed.

Beer for a cause

Mad Anthony Brewing Co. is collaborating with the Pink Boots Society to create a special brew in honor of International Women’s Day.

On Friday, the Mad Anthony team will begin brewing a New England India pale ale with members of the society, Northeast Indiana Girls Pint Out and local female brewing professionals. Mad Anthony Brewing will be using a special blend of hops developed by Pink Boots Society and Yakima Chief Hops.

The beer will be released March 27, and it will be available at all Mad Anthony locations and Shigs In Pit BBQ & Brew, 6250 Maplecrest Road.

PFW goes Swiss

The latest dining concept from Purdue University Fort Wayne students opened for business Thursday.

Edelweiss, this semester’s student-run restaurant, will serve Swiss cuisine. The restaurant is inside the Holiday Inn Purdue Fort Wayne, 4111 Paul Shaffer Drive.

It will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursdays through April 25. It will not open this week because of spring break.

The restaurant is 100 percent student run, meaning the students manage all aspects of the operation, from creating the décor and planning the menu to ordering the supplies and generating profits, with an emphasis on the management of the restaurant.

“This semester our hospitality management students have developed and will operate a concept restaurant close to my heart,” says John Niser, chair of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management. “Being originally a Swiss citizen, I love the country and its multicultural food heritage.”

Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are recommended and can be made by emailing edelweiss31019@gmail.com or calling 627-9153.

The Dish features restaurant news and food events and appears Wednesdays. Fax news items to 461-8893, email kdupps@jg.net or call 461-8304.