Landing makes restaurant deal

April 19, 2019 GMT

An Indianapolis restaurant chain today will announce plans to serve patrons in two buildings on The Landing, the $32.6 million mixed-use development that will begin welcoming tenants this summer.

Cunningham Restaurant Group owns and operates 31 restaurants in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. Among them is Bru Burger Bar, a 10-location gourmet burger chain, and upscale Indianapolis restaurants Nesso Coastal Italia and Livery, which has a Latin influence.

But the company will create a new, unique concept for The Landing, owner Mike Cunningham said during a phone interview Thursday.

“It will be varied, modern American cuisine,” he said, adding that the concept and name are still being developed.

Lunch and dinner will be served with entrees priced between 30 and sandwiches and dinner salads at about $12, Cunningham said. Steak, seafood and pasta will likely be featured on the menu.

The restaurant will occupy 4,730 square feet at 123 W. Columbia St. and 970 square feet at 131 W. Columbia St. A structure will be built on what was previously a parking lot to connect the two buildings with a portion of the area left uncovered for outside dining.

The bar will be in the newer building, 123 W. Columbia. The smaller dining area next door can also be used for private parties, Cunningham said.

Construction could begin in August or September with a possible February opening, he estimated.

The Fort Wayne Downtown Development Trust chose The Model Group, a Cincinnati-based developer, in early 2016. The Trust’s vision is to modernize seven Italianate-style buildings in compliance with strict national historic preservation guidelines and construct one new building for the mixed-use project.

Over the years, the one-block stretch of Columbia Street between Harrison and Calhoun streets has been a music haven, the site of block parties, Mardi Gras festivals and other events. In more recent years, the street has been scattered with restaurants, nightclubs and offices.

“Our goal has always been to focus on bringing the best local entrepreneurs to The Landing, paired with one or two of the best regional dining and entertainment operators,” Bobby Maly, chief operating officer for The Model Group and who oversees the Fort Wayne project, said in an email. “Certainly (Cunningham Restaurant Group) fits that bill in our region, and we’re thrilled that they’ve picked The Landing to introduce themselves to Fort Wayne.”

Matt Reckman, The Model Group’s vice president of property management, sees the Cunningham group as a good match for The Landing, which he described as a place that will be full of energy.

“It will be pedestrian-first, walkable, high design, and have some of the best outdoor community spaces in town,” he said in an email, adding that the new restaurant’s large patio space will be visible from Columbia Street and “will be one of the best spots in town to eat and drink outside.”

3BG Supply Co. on Wednesday announced plans to move to 122 Columbia St., across the street from the Cunningham group’s new restaurant.

The local technology and distribution business will occupy 5,000 square feet of the new building’s upper floors with an option to expand. 3BG will also develop the rooftop as a space for employees to work outside in pleasant weather.

Utopian Coffee, a local coffee roaster, will operate a coffee bar on the first floor. A brewery and BBQ restaurant, a collaboration between Caleb France of Cerulean and Brendon Maxwell, who owns Utopian Coffee, is also planned for the first floor.

The Model Group is leasing first-floor spaces to restaurants, retailers and entertainment venues. Offices will locate on second floors and higher. Construction crews are placing the finishing touches on residential units found on the upper floors.

Plans call for 70 housing units and 60,000 square feet of commercial space.