NWI Business Ins and Outs: Smoothie/juice bar and pizzeria come to Valpo, Buona eyeing C.P. site, TruFit Valpo expands to bigger location, Asada on the move
A new smoothie and juice bar on U.S. 30 in Valparaiso hopes to give residents on the south side of the city some healthier options.
The tropical-themed Island Nutrition Smoothies & More recently opened at 1675 Morthland Drive in Valparaiso.
Owner Scott Milligan said his smoothie and juice bar offers only clean, natural, non-GMO foods. It sells smoothies like a Strawberry Slam, Mango Crusher, Key Lime Sublime, and Berry, Berry Good. Juices include the Beet It Up, Kale Krusher, Citrus Coast, Sunrise Delight and Purple Rain with red cabbage, lime and apples.
“Everything is 100 percent clean and 100 percent natural,” Milligan said.
Island Nutrition also offers detox drinks, pre- and post-workout drinks, low-calorie meal replacements and lifestyle shakes like the Banilla, made with banana, vanilla, vanilla whey protein and unsweetened almond milk.
“What inspired me was the need for healthier options,” Milligan said. “I felt there was nothing like this on the south side of Valparaiso.”
Smoothies and juices are the top sellers, but Island Nutrition also offers kombucha, CBD, supplements like protein powders, and healthy snacks like a smoothie granola bowl. A light food menu includes salads and sandwiches.
“There’s quite a few choices to grab and go,” Milligan said. “We’ve it set up with a tropical vibe and the colors of Key West that are warm and inviting. We want people to feel good about themselves and have fun.”
Island Nutrition targets those who want to eat healthy, and its customers thus far have included high school students, busy mothers, blue-collar workers and business professionals, Milligan said.
“I want people to be happy with the choices that they make, to do something that’s right for the community,” he said. “It’s just a healthier choice than the fast-food options out there. There’s a lot of hustle and bustle, so it’s nice when there’s a healthy choice that’s also convenient.”
A ribbon-cutting with the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce and an educational seminar about CBD are tentatively slated for Feb. 15.
For more information, call 219-242-8773, visit islandnutritionsmoothie.com, or find Island Nutrition on Facebook.
Valpo TruFit moved to a much larger space at 1155 Marsh St. Suite A in Valparaiso a few months ago.
“We are a personal training and small training studio where we work one-on-one, or in small group training sessions,” said owner Luke Strain, a longtime personal trainer who has struck out on his own. “I’ve worked at quite a few big-box gyms, as you would call them. Our studio lets clients feel secure in a semiprivate setting where they’re getting personalized attention from a trainer, and not distracted by gym traffic.”
Strain and his wife Kayla Strain relocated their five-year-old fitness studio to the 4,400-square-foot facility with state-of-the-art equipment, a garage door and ample outdoor space for fresh-air training. They offer fitness training to a wide array of clients, including athletes in youth sports and seniors going through rehabilitation after surgery.
“We just needed more space,” he said. “It’s much more conducive to having more trainers under one roof, and we’ve been able to make good use of the garage door.”
Valpo TruFit trains high-level athletes with power plates, vibration platforms, kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, sleds, Jacob’s Ladders and state-of-the-art equipment.
Training sessions range from a half hour for personal sessions to 45 minutes for group sessions. Group training is limited to 12 people to ensure quality.
The studio helps people toward a number of fitness goals, including building muscle, burning fat and losing weight. It specializes in conditioning for athletes, given Kayla Strain’s experience as a collegiate softball player and former high school softball coach.
“We primarily do strength training but serve multiple populations,” Luke Strain said. “It’s not just for bodybuilding and sports performance. We help everybody move better.”
Training sessions are offered by appointment between 5 a.m. and 8 or 9 p.m. daily.
For more information, call 219-242-1078, visit www.valpotrufit.com or find the business on Facebook or Instagram.
Amici Grill and Pizzeria, a popular Italian restaurant on Ridge Road in Highland, plans to open its second location in Valparaiso, across the street from the Valparaiso University campus.
Owner Rosemary Mouratides said the goal was to open at 1409 Lincolnway in the spring. The menu will be largely the same but tweaked to cater to the college crowd.
“We expect more walking traffic in Valparaiso,” she said. “We’ll sell pizza by the slice, which will be one major difference.”
Amici’s menu includes thin-crust pizza, pasta, calzones, salads, garlic knots, desserts and espresso drinks. It offers traditional Italian fare made with all-natural, high-quality ingredients, Mouratides said.
“The reason we got into the restaurant business is we were tired of processed frozen foods, not just at fast-food restaurants but also at full-service restaurants,” she said. “The vast majority of the menu items in our restaurants are made from scratch. We make the dough and the sauces in-house. We do all the slicing and chopping ourselves.”
The Mouratides family plans to turn the business over to their two sons, leaving the Highland location to one and the Valparaiso eatery to the other.
The Amici in Valparaiso has its own parking lot on-site and hopes to add an outdoor patio.
“Amici means friends in Italian,” she said. “We try to make sure all the employees we hire are friendly so the diners have a friendly experience. It’s also named in honor of our friends who always encouraged us to open a restaurant.”
For more information, visit www.amicigrill.com.
The popular Italian beef chain Buona Beef is eyeing a location at Broadway and Summit Street in Crown Point, north of the Tomato Bar that’s being developed, said Aaron McDermott, president of Latitude Commercial real estate in Schererville.
Plans also call for a Pita Pit, Anytime Fitness, Waxing the City, and car wash in that strip mall.
A staple at Guaranteed Rate Field, Buona Beef opened its first Indiana location last March on Indianapolis Boulevard in Schererville.
Highland has completed the final inspections to allow Asada Grill & Cantina to move from Griffith to a much larger location at 2907 45th St. The Mexican restaurant, which Yelp ranked as one of the best in Indiana, will take over the former Zuni’s House of Pizza space that previously had been home to several nightclubs. Zuni’s closed in December 2016.
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Bombers BBQ and Dante’s House of Pizza move in Munster, El Poblano opens in Merrillville, Nick’s Tavern and Pizza Hut come to Cedar Lake
Bombers BBQ, one of the Region’s most celebrated barbecue joints, has more than doubled its space in a new location at 435 Ridge Road in Munster.
The military aviation-themed barbecue restaurant, acclaimed for its brisket, rib tips and other smoked meats, has more than doubled its seating in the new space behind Mark O’s Bar & Grill in the former Harrison Ridge Plaza, now called the South Shore Plaza. Owners Chris Cole and Anthony Petrocelli had been looking for a larger space to keep up with demand, especially with catering orders.
Bombers had been in a strip mall on Ridge Road next to Johnny’s Wings and Burgers since it first opened in April 2013.
“We probably outgrew our last location two and a half years ago,” Cole said. “But opening a new facility is costly and we wanted to make sure we were doing it right.”
Bombers BBQ more than doubled its square footage from 2,200 square feet to 4,500 square feet, which has been filled with long picnic table benches, stools and double the kitchen space. The restaurant is tripling its smoker capacity.
“We weren’t able to take catering orders for weddings and other events on Saturdays,” Cole said. “We’ve had to turn down weddings throughout the summer because Saturday is our busiest day and it was impossible to have enough room in our smoker to do a wedding offsite and meet the needs of our customers in the restaurant. Now we’ll be able to cater for up to 500 people and deliver it. We’re looking forward to doing weddings, rehearsals, graduation parties and other fun stuff.”
The restaurant’s sole smoker had been in an outdoor barn, but it will now operate all three smokers inside the kitchen.
“It’s great for us and will improve the quality of the meat in the wintertime, because we won’t have to move the meat from the cold outdoors,” Cole said. “We’ll also have the smoker capacity to try and experiment with new menu items, wood combinations and temperature combinations.”
Bombers BBQ could start offering short rib dino bones, pulled chicken, whole smoked turkeys for Thanksgiving, and Christmas ham. Diners also can watch the meat being placed into or pulled from the smokers through large viewing windows in the dining room and by the counter.
“It’s where the magic happens,” Cole said. “It’s pretty cool to be able to watch them load or pull meat from the smokers.”
Bombers BBQ added four jobs during the expansion and is looking to hire more. It’s looking at adding self-ordering kiosks because of the difficulty of finding enough cashiers, and will eventually take all to-go orders online. The restaurant might also partner with a delivery service.
“We’ll be able to process orders faster and more efficiently,” Cole said.
The barbecue joint’s carefully curated selection of bottled craft beer won’t return until the middle of February, because it had to reapply for its alcohol permit and couldn’t get a hearing scheduled before then.
For more information, visit bombersbbq.com or call 219-836-2662.
Dante’s House of Pizza, the popular pizzeria founded by the son of the restaurateur behind the legendary House of Pizza in Hammond, has moved just down the street to 1869 45th St. in Munster, right next to Danny Z’s.
Danny Zunica, who named the pizzeria after his dad Dante Zunica, owns both establishments.
“We remodeled in both and have a brand new bar with 20 new taps,” restaurant manager Leann Humpfer said. “We still have people’s favorite things at Dante’s: the lunch buffets, the pasta bar, and the dinner buffet on Thursday.”
The new restaurant seats about 60 to 70 diners, and is connected by a doorway to Danny Z’s, which can accommodate up to 110 people.
“The space was available, and the owners thought it made sense,” she said. “Now we’re all under one location instead of split between them.”
Dante’s has been remodeling the space and transporting over much of the art that decorated the previous location, at 1734 W. 45th St.
“We moved some art over so it has the old familiar feel,” she said. “But it’s a more modern space that’s newly remodeled and so beautiful.”
For more information, call 219-924-200 or visit dantesmunster.com.
Fans of the popular Fat Burrito in Crown Point might want to check out a new Mexican restaurant in Merrillville.
Fat Burrito alum Javier Paredes, with Edgar Tapia and Round the Clock veteran Freddy Palma, opened El Poblano Mexican Restaurant in the former Delta restaurant space at 7600 Broadway in Merrillville. Paredes is the brother of Benjamin Paredes, one of the Fat Burrito owners, and he and Tapio worked there for years before striking out on their own.
“We decided to find our own place,” he said. “Some of our food is the same. I changed the name but we also have a large burrito with a 16-inch tortilla, melted cheese and red or green sauce on the top.”
Paredes said they invested a lot of money in renovating the former Delta restaurant, such as by installing all new booths.
El Poblano specializes in traditional Mexican cuisine.
“There are more Tex-Mex restaurants around,” he said. “This is more authentic Mexican food. We make the rice and beans fresh every day.”
The 3,000-square-foot restaurant employs five and seats about 74 people. The menu includes carne asada, steak a la Mexicana, tacos and burritos. The El Poblano special piles steak, chicken, and shrimp on rice mixed with green peppers and onions, which is smothered with cheese sauce and ranchero sauce.
Breakfast items include steak and eggs and chilaquiles.
“We served authentic Mexican food,” he said. “If you think the food at Fat Burrito is good, you will like our food.”
El Poblano is open from 10 a.m to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
For more information, call 219-525-4193 or find El Poblano on Facebook.
Nick’s Tavern, a Lemont bar that has been featured on Chicago’s Best on WGN, is taking over the former Carlo’s Pizzeria/Big Butt BBQ at 13231 Wicker Ave. in Cedar Lake.
“We’re bringing our famous one-pound burger to Northwest Indiana,” Nick’s Tavern announced on its Facebook page.
Billing itself as a great place to watch the Chicago Blackhawks, football or other sporting events, Nick’s has been serving its massive and acclaimed Nickburger since 1945, and keeps its beers “ice cold in its unique Bevador cooler.”
The Cedar Lake location will serve lunch, dinner and drinks, offering waiter service and outdoor seating.
For more information, call 219-374-5500 or visit www.facebook.com/NicksCedarLake.
Pizza Hut, one of the largest pizza chains in the country, opened a new restaurant at 13300 Lincoln Plaza Way in Cedar Lake a few weeks ago.
The Yum Brands subsidiary is known for its restaurants’ distinctive red roofs, the Book It! program that rewards young readers with personal pan pizzas, and of course the “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” song.
Pizza Hut says that “no one outpizzas the hut,” a claim which could not be verified as of press time.
The carryout restaurant, which also delivers, is located in a strip mall just south of Hanover Central High School.
The Pizza Hut is open from 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
For more information, call 219-374-6845.
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Chipotle opens in Crown Point, Dickey’s BBQ closes in Highland, Bee & Me Boutique moving
Chipotle Mexican Grill opens its first Crown Point location Tuesday to satisfy fans of fast, fresh carnitas, barbacoa and black beans.
The fast-casual Mexican restaurant, known for its huge burritos and bowls stuffed with highly customizable ingredients, is at 10715 Broadway in Crown Point. It will feature a drive-up digital pickup lane so customers can get orders they placed on Chipotle.com or the Chipotle app handed to them without even getting out of their car.
A favorite among millennials and anyone who likes cool, creamy guac, Chipotle also has Region locations in Highland, Munster, Merrillville, Portage and Valparaiso.
The new Crown Point Chipotle will be open from 10:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
A 2,100-square-foot Starbucks also is under construction on Broadway by Crown Point’s new Chipotle restaurant.
Crown Point Planning Administrator Anthony Schlueter said the chain coffee shop, which will be the second Starbucks in Crown Point when it opens, is a standalone building with a drive-thru. Seattle-based Starbucks closed its coffee shop at 10761 Broadway nearby a decade ago when it shuttered more than 600 stores nationwide.
In a blow to local meat lovers and carnivores everywhere, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit has closed its Highland location at 8359 Indianapolis Blvd. in the troubled Highland Ultra Plaza, which is being foreclosed upon after the anchor Ultra store closed as a result of the 2017 Central Grocers bankruptcy.
The phone is disconnected, and Highland has been removed from Dickey’s locations page on its website.
A spokeswoman did not return a request for more information.
The Dallas-based chain claims to offer “Legit. Texas. Barbecue.” Its menu features many slow-cooked meats like beef brisket, pulled pork and ribs, which customers could sample on two-meat or three-meat plates.
The fast-casual counter-service barbecue restaurant chain shuttered its location a few miles south at 713B Indianapolis Blvd. in Schererville in 2014. It’s down to just three locations in the entire state of Indiana, with the Portage restaurant at 6200 U.S. 6 being the only local Dickey’s left.
It’s the latest in a series of departures at the Highland Ultra Plaza, where Fallas, Dollar General, and Taco & Burritos Rancho Grande have also closed in the wake of the Ultra departure and foreclosure.
Bee & Me Boutique is on the move again after losing its lease to the former Renovar space at 100 S. Broad St., at the corner of Main and Broad streets in downtown Griffith.
But the five-year-old boutique, which sells Magnolia home decor and clothes, isn’t going far.
Bee & Me is moving right across the street to the former Griffith State Bank, which is being transformed into The Bank.quet Gatherings & Events to host weddings, company parties and other special events. The boutique had been squirreled away in an industrial park on the southeast side of town before moving to the heart of Griffith’s downtown earlier this year.
It’s home to a Cute as a Cupcake express shop and also sells school uniforms, spirit wear and flame-resistant work clothes for steelworkers.
It’s slated to close its current location on Jan. 12 and reopen across the street when the old bank renovation is complete.
A new strip mall is being built near the Strack & Van Til supermarket at 109th Avenue and Broadway in Crown Point.
Crown Point Planning Administrator Anthony Schlueter said the 5,400-square-foot strip mall would have three units. He’s heard it will be home to a coffee shop and a pizza place.
Beer and barbecue soon will be replaced with down-home Southern cooking at the old Lowell water plant at 241 N. Liberty St. in downtown Lowell.
The Old Lowell Watering Hole and Bub’s BBQ revived the historic building by the post office, opening in August but closing recently after the business partnership dissolved.
The building has since been sold to new owners, including Leigh Burke.
Burke said the new restaurant in the old water plant, which was decommissioned in the 1990s, would have more of a “Southern home cooking theme,” would not include a brewery and would open in the next 60 days or so. A new name will be chosen “very shortly.”
NWI Business Ins and Outs: CBD dispensary opens in Crown Point, poke coming to Merrillville, Dozeli Pizzeria opens in Schererville
Right after hemp was legalized with the signing of the U.S. farm bill earlier in December, Blackbird Hemp opened a CBD dispensary in Crown Point.
Owners Corey Lurtz and Dennis Hein opened the shop at 449 E. Summit St. in Crown Point. It sells CBD, or cannabidiol, products that are being hyped across the country as a treatment for inflammation, anxiety, depression and various other ailments. The business is cash-only, awaiting federal regulations that would allow banks and credit card companies to do business with hemp merchants.
Since CBD oil was decriminalized in Indiana in March, many retailers in the Region have started selling it, including pharmacies, fireworks stores and skateboard shops. Market researcher Brightfield Group estimates CBD may grow into a $22 billion industry nationwide by 2022.
Blackbird Hemp is focused entirely on selling CBD products. It carries more than 100 products including tinctures, capsules, gummies, bath bombs, salves, lotions, coconut oils and vaping cartridges. Users might apply a salve for a topical inflammation, take a pill for other issues, and use a vape cartridge for anxiety, because it is fast-acting, taking effect in about 15 minutes.
“We have just about everything,” Hein said. “We have dog treats and pet tinctures.”
The dispensary carries established brands such as Green Lotus Hemp, Lazarus Naturals Hemp and Sun State Hemp, and sources many of its products from small farms and co-ops in Colorado, Washington and Kentucky. Customers — who often skew older — use it to treat neuropathy, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, inflammation and anxiety, among other conditions. Some try to use it to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure or digestive health.
“We try to educate our customers on what to take and how to take it,” Hein said. “Education is a building block and the key. We point them to things they can go home and research on their own. For the longest time, hemp had basically been a boogeyman but it’s becoming more normalized as more research and studies are coming out about the health benefits.”
A post in Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Blog said CBD may be effective at managing anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain, but that it could have side effects like nausea and fatigue. Some CBD promoters overstate its curative powers, according to the blog, and more research is needed to determine CBD’s effect. People should consult their doctors before using it, the Harvard blog concludes.
Blackbird Hemp hopes to organize an annual hemp festival with educational seminars at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point, launch its own Blackbird-branded products and open more locations around the Region. Once it can accept debit and credit card payment, it hopes to establish a subscription service in which payments are automatically deducted and CBD is mailed out to customers.
“We’re looking to bootstrap this up,” Hein said. “Expansion will be doable, but we’ll do it step-by-step. We’re focused on good-quality products and getting it out to the public.”
The dispensary offers 15 percent discounts to seniors, first responders, members of the military and union members.
Blackbird Hemp is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
For more information, call 219-226-4154, visit facebook.com/blackbirdhemp, or find Blackbird Hemp on Instagram.
Poke places specializing in Hawaiian raw fish bowls have sprung up all over Chicago in recent years, serving sushi-like pieces of uncooked tuna and salmon tossed in soy sauce and sesame oil atop beds of rice, with avocado and other fresh ingredients.
A few places in Northwest Indiana have poke on the menu, such as Kitaro Surf & Turf in Munster, but the hot restaurant trend is finally coming to the Region.
A sign in the strip mall that’s home to Panera Bread and Qdoba Mexican Eats at the corner of U.S. 30 and Broadway in Merrillville announced that Pokéman Restaurant is coming soon.
The owners could not be reached for comment. Apparently unrelated poke restaurants with the Pokeman or Poke-man name have cropped up in cities like Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Vancouver and West Hartford, Connecticut, but it’s not clear if there’s any potential intellectual property dispute with the popular Pokémon video game and anime franchise that enjoyed a massive resurgence in popularity when Pokémon Go was released in 2016.
South suburban Dozeli Pizzeria, which has locations in Chicago Heights and South Chicago Heights, has opened in the former Enzo’s space at 1120 W. U.S. 30 in Schererville.
The pizzeria offers both thin crust and deep dish pizza, as well as “deluxe” sandwiches like Italian beef and chicken Parmesan. The extensive menu includes wings, salads, appetizers, and both hot and cold sub sandwiches.
The small Chicagoland chain, which was founded in 2008, bakes pies including Italian beef pizza, a chicken Alfredo pizza, and a “Meaty Lover’s Pizza” topped with five different meats.
Unlike the other locations, the Schererville restaurant does not have a grill yet, so no hot dogs or hamburgers are available. With no dining room, it is carryout and delivery only, delivering within about a five-mile range.
Dozeli Pizzeria is currently open from 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, call 219-515-2876 or visit www.dozelipizzeria.com.
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Stacked Pickle coming to Lansing, Fifth Third Bank, Burrito Stop and Mas Tacos open, Merrillville Tea Room temporarily closed
Former Indianapolis Colts player Gary Brackett plans to open a Stacked Pickle restaurant in Lansing before the end of 2019.
The linebacker and Super Bowl champion has been looking to expand his sports-themed sit-down restaurant and bar chain in the Region. He’s also been looking for franchisees to open Stacked Pickle restaurants in places like Schererville, Merrillville, Crown Point and Gary.
The casual dining restaurant serves traditional American fare like burgers, wings and its namesake fried pickles in a “family-friendly atmosphere.”
Founded eight years ago, the fast-growing Stacked Pickle now has nine restaurants in Indiana, and has signed on franchisees in Houston, Orlando and Dayton, Ohio.
The restaurants, whose top-selling items include a burger and wings combo, typically seat about 150 diners and employ up to 50 people.
How does that song go?
Stop, in the name of burritos?
Stop, it’s burrito time?
At any rate, Burrito Stop Mex and American Grill recently opened at 1421 119th St. in downtown Whiting, adding to the lakefront city’s Mexican cuisine options.
The fast-food restaurant, which incorporates a big red stop sign into its logo, offers burritos and bowls with a choice of steak, chicken, barbacoa, carnitas, ground beef and veggies.
Burrito Stop also serves gorditas, tortas, XL quesadillas, tacos, salads and dinner platters with steak or chicken that are served with rice, beans and tortillas.
Prices range from $2.25 for a taco to $14.99 for a flame-grilled skirt steak meal.
Burrito Stop is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It’s closed on Sundays.
For more information, call 219-370-5151.
Also in taco news, Mas Tacos has opened a carryout restaurant at 8020 Kennedy Ave. in Highland.
The eatery, which has a small waiting area, serves tacos, tortas, sopas, gorditas, burritos, enchiladas, tamales, nachos, 99-cent chicken flautas and the Mas Special, which is rice topped with lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, jalapenos and one’s choice of meat.
It’s open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Sunday.
For more information, call 219-879-3326.
Fifth Third Bank recently opened a new branch on Franklin Street by Ames Field in Michigan City, Mayor Ron Meer said.
The branch, at 2604 Franklin St., has a drive-thru and an ATM.
Cincinnati-based Fifth Third, so named after the merger of Fifth National Bank and Third National Bank and not some random fraction, is a Fortune 500 company with more than 1,100 branches in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, West Virginia, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.
Locally, Fifth Third has locations in Gary, Merrillville, Schererville, Crown Point, Highland, Hammond and Valparaiso.
The Michigan City branch is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
For more information, call 219-879-3326.
The Merrillville Tea Room, whose formal afternoon teas are a holiday tradition for many Region families, closed back in June, but that’s only temporary.
The tea room in the Merrillville Florist Shop at 7005 Madison St. was closed after its chef left for a new gig, but owner Ramona McCrovitz said she hopes to reopen after finding a new chef.
“We’re just busy right now with Christmas and will be busy through Valentine’s Day,” she said.
In addition to pots of tea, the tea room serves scones, salads and sandwiches in a peaceful and quiet setting.
Times business reporter Joseph S. Pete provides the details on what’s coming and going in the Region retail and restaurant world.
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Chipotle, Taco Bell, Anytime Fitness opening; Starbucks and Don Pedro’s closing
Anyone who loves huge Mission-style burritos stuffed with their choice of fresh ingredients won’t have to wait much longer for Chipotle Mexican Grill to finally open in Crown Point.
The widely influential Newport Beach, California-based chain, a favorite among millennials and anyone who appreciates a high degree of customization, plans to open its first Crown Point location on Jan. 8 at 10715 Broadway.
Chipotle is known for its assembly line-like service in which burritos, tacos, bowls and salads are constructed with a selection of ingredients like barbacoa, carnitas and guacamole. It has been considered the gold standard of the fast-growing fast-casual segment with many restaurateurs scrambling to be the first to open “the Chipotle of pizza,” “the Chipotle of Greek food,” and so on. But Chipotle’s reputation was dinged after E. coli outbreaks and other food safety concerns in 2015.
Chipotle was originally supposed to open in Crown Point on Saturday but the opening was pushed back. A company spokesperson said no further delays are expected.
In a novelty for a Chipotle, at least in Northwest Indiana, the new Crown Point restaurant will feature a drive-up pickup lane for customers who place and pay for orders on the Chipotle app or at Chipotle.com.
The restaurant will be open from 10:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Also in Mexican-themed chain restaurant news, Taco Bell has opened at 917 Joliet St. in Dyer, near the Jewel-Osco supermarket at U.S. 30 and Calumet Avenue.
Especially popular among perpetually hungry teenagers and late-night bar-goers, the Tex-Mex-ish fast-food chain, known for a value menu where ingredients like Fritos chips are wrapped in a tortilla and sold for a buck or so, serves chalupas, XXL Grilled Stuft Burritos and whatever a “crunch wrap” is.
Taco Bell, owned by Louisville-based Yum Brands, describes the food as “Mexican inspired” on its website. It has 7,000 locations worldwide, including in Highland, Griffith, Crown Point, Winfield, Valparaiso, Hobart, St. John, Merrillville, Hammond, Portage, Munster, LaPorte, Chesterton and Michigan City.
The Dyer Taco Bell is open from 7 a.m. through 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 7 a.m. through 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Work off all those burrito calories at the new Anytime Fitness gym in Chesterton. The gym chain that allows members to workout around the clock has opened its 17th Northwest Indiana location.
The 24-hour fitness franchise at 757 Indian Boundary Road offers free weights, weight machines, cardio equipment, group training, personal training, tanning and hydro-massage therapy.
“For many people, joining a gym can be an intimidating experience,” Anytime Fitness Regional Manager Kevin Scott said. “Our gym is big enough to feature everything you need for a great workout and small enough to provide personalized attention for all of our members. Whether weight loss is your goal, or increased strength or improved balanced and flexibility — or a combination of some of those things — at Anytime Fitness, we’re able to help you achieve whatever results you seek.”
On average, Anytime Fitness gyms are staffed for 12 hours a day but can be accessed by members at any time day or night — hence the name — with a key fob. Members also have access to any of Anytime Fitness’s more than 4,000 clubs worldwide.
“We make it easy for our members to exercise whenever and however they like,” Scott said. “We have personal trainers available to help you learn how to use all of the equipment and to develop an individualized workout plan, if you like. And, our Personal Training and Group Training programs are optimized to provide efficient workouts in 1-on-1 settings as well as small & large group settings. All training programs are designed to provide guidance, accountability and of course results.”
For more information, call 219.765.0382 or email ChestertonIN@anytimefitness.com.
Granite & Quartz Tops is moving into the former Lynn’s Bedding at 1862 W. U.S. 30 in Merrillville.
Merrillville-based Commercial In-Sites brokered the sale of the property to the new owner, which is opening its first location in Indiana. The showroom will feature custom granite, marble and quartz countertops.
Commercial In-Sites said in a news release the new countertop showroom should open in early summer 2019.
Starbucks shuttered its coffee shop at 2531 Willowcreek Road in Portage, the oldest Starbucks in Porter County’s most populous city.
The Seattle-based purveyor of cold brew, Frappuccinos and other strong espresso drinks that power people through the day, still has two other Portage locations, at 6030 U.S. 6 and 6295 Ameriplex Drive.
Don Pedro’s, a Tex-Mex restaurant that offered steak, seafood and Mexican staples like enchiladas, quesadillas and Huevos Con Chorizo, has permanently closed its long-standing location at 7840 U.S. 41 in Schererville.
A favorite spot for Mexican cuisine among many in the Tri-Town, the restaurant had a bar that served drinks like Corona-ritas with an upturned Corona bottle jutting out of a margarita glass. It had some authentic menu items like menudo and pozole.
“It is with great sadness that we inform you after 16 amazing years in business we have come to the difficult decision to close our doors and focus on our next business venture,” the owners said in a note posted on the door. “It has been an incredible journey. Thanks to all our wonderful patrons and to the NW Indiana community. Please feel free to visit the original Don Pedro’s located in Calumet City, Illinois. Thank you.”
Business Ins and Outs
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Golden Corral and Vegas Cafe reopening soon in Schererville, Smallcakes has opened
The Goldn Corral buffet will make its triumphant return to Schererville before year’s end, though likely after Christmas.
The owners of the Merrillville Golden Corral have made extensive renovations to the Golden Corral at 915 Eagle Ridge Dr., by the Home Depot, in Schererville. The buffet had served its last slice of ham and scoop of mashed potatoes three years ago.
“We completely remodeled the place,” General Manager Ken Churchill said. “We put in a fireplace, recessed lighting and all new decor on the inside. Everything is bright and shiny. It’s like a brand new store opening.”
There’s no official opening date yet, but Golden Corral is working to hire 200 workers, including servers, cooks and cashiers.
“The menu will be pretty similar to the Merrillville location, with some small differences,” Churchill said.
The Raleigh, North Carolina-based chain has been frequently updating its menu recently, adding new items every three months like prime rib, fajitas and different kinds of wings.
“It keeps the customers coming in,” Churchill said.
Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery has opened at 336 Indianapolis Blvd., next to the new Rosati’s Pizza, Buona Beef and McAlister’s Deli in the Shoppes on the Boulevard.
Gloria Jean’s franchisee Raed Naser, his wife Noor Musleh, his brother and their family opened the chain, which has been featured on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” and “The View.” It features 18 different flavors of cupcakes daily, including 14 regular flavors and four that change daily.
“We have 365 different recipes that we cycle through,” Naser said.
Popular items at the 1,500-square-foot cupcakery and ice cream parlor, which seats 12, include red velvet cupcakes and smashes, in which a cupcake is paired with two scoops of ice cream in a mason jar.
“They’re delicious and perfect for Instagram and social media,” he said. “They look great, and people like to share it.”
The restaurant employs 12 workers and serves only cupcakes baked freshly that day. Leftovers are donated to charitable organizations and other places like local hospitals and nursing homes.
“You can ask to be on the list, and then we call through it until we find someone to take the leftovers,” Naser said. “We only serve fresh cupcakes.”
A grand opening celebration is planned for 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15. Smallcakes will give away mini cupcakes while supplies last, offer 40 percent off on everything all day, have family-friendly activities like balloon animal-making, and will enter customers into a raffle.
For more information, visit www.smallcakesschererville.com or call 219-440-7155.
Vegas Cafe at 800 Cedar Parkway in Schererville ran out of luck, closing earlier this year.
But its fortunes have changed.
Jorge Armando and Shelly Ann Armando, the owners of Skillet’s Bistro in Highland, bought the restaurant and plan to reopen it as Vegas Bistro Cafe in the middle of January.
The reborn eatery will focus on quick breakfast items and sandwiches. Nothing on the menu will cost more than $7.60, as the restaurant will target passing truckers and workers at stores and restaurants along Indianapolis Boulevard in Schererville and Highland.
“We want to give workers a good-priced breakfast or BLT or something like that,” Jorge Armando said. “It’s going to be good for workers who come in the early morning on their way to work. Drivers can call ahead to order their food in advance. We have a huge parking lot and will bring it out to them. It will be like 1960s service without the roller skating.”
Vegas Cafe Bistro will seat 46 people inside, and another 18 outside during warmer weather. It will serve beer, wine, wine-based cocktails and espresso drinks such as lattes and espressos.
The menu will include skillets, omelets, waffles and many items that can be prepared quickly.
“We have a good team and have been practicing getting breakfast sandwiches out in no more than five minutes,” he said. “We want to offer a quick breakfast.”
It will be cheap, with hot dogs for $2 and hot dogs with fries and a drink for $4.25. The lunch menu also will include burgers, soups and chili.
“Schererville was a point of interested because it’s been a draw for all the towns around it, including Chicago,” he said. “I’ve lived in Dyer for such a long time and see so many people, including from the city and Illinois, coming here to have a good meal, good shopping, or a buy a good house. Just look at the amount of cars going by.”
Vegas Cafe will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.
Business Ins and Outs
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Sophia’s House of Pancakes replacing S’ville Applebee’s, Birdie’s $3 car wash coming to CP, Domino’s and Big Lots open, Enzo’s closes
There’s no more “eating good in the neighborhood” in Schererville after Applebee’s closed near the intersection of U.S. 30 and Indianapolis Boulevard, disappointing fans of $1 drink specials, 2 for $20 date nights, steaks crisscrossed with huge grill marks, and whatever riblets are.
The Schererville Applebee’s has gone extinct but a new era of fluffy golden pancakes is upon us.
Sophia’s House of Pancakes, a popular pancake house on Indianapolis Boulevard, plans to take over the space and open another location there.
A sign posted at the recently shuttered Applebee’s Grill + Bar at 650 W. U.S. 30, in the Crossroads Shopping Center in Schererville, said Sophia’s is opening there soon. The family-style diner, which also has a location at Orland Park in Illinois, is known for its stacks of old-fashioned, powdered sugar-dusted pancakes and for its hearty breakfasts with huge portions, including five-egg omelets. One reviewer on Yelp called it “the Grand Kingdom of Breakfast” with “a menu the size of the Sunday paper” and skillets “the size of glacially carved freshwater basins.”
If $4 seems a little steep to you for a car wash, you’re in luck.
Birdie’s $3 Car Wash hopes to open as soon as December at 10567 Broadway in Crown Point.
Owner Mike Mahmoud has dreamed of opening a car wash since childhood.
“As a little kid I worked with my father at grocery stores in the city,” he said. “There was a hand car wash with a line around the block. I saw the potential of how much cash a car wash could make.”
Car washes start at $3 and go up, depending on the level of cleaning one wants. Similar $3 car washes have opened in recent years in Hammond and Dyer.
“It’s a price point that’s affordable to everybody,” Mahmoud said. “If you drive by a $5 car wash, you think, ‘maybe.’ But $3 is a price you don’t want to pass up.”
Birdie’s $3 Car Wash also will sell monthly memberships allowing people to get their car washed every day or as frequently as they want.
The Crown Point car wash is largely built-out and expects to open in a matter of weeks, in the busy season where many people try to get the road salt washed off their cars. It has a 140-foot tunnel and 20 vacuums. Mahmoud has talked with his banker about building 10 of them across Northwest Indiana and hopes to eventually take the brand national. The next one will be in St. John, and then he’ll look at Illinois locations.
“We’ll take baby steps,” he said. “Of course I’d like to go nationwide. But these are big projects. These aren’t $100,000, $200,000 projects. These are $4 million apiece.”
Birdie’s $3 Car Wash will employ about 15 workers in Crown Point.
“A lot of thought and hard work went into this establishment, and it’s run by the owner himself,” he said. “I built this car wash so my car could run through it. I’m a car guy who used to work in car sales. I wouldn’t run anyone’s car through it if I wouldn’t run my own car through it.”
Chicago Heights-based Enzo’s Beef and Sausage restaurant expanded to 1120 U.S. 30 in Schererville in 2015, but has decided to refocus its efforts on its Illinois location.
“We decided that it was best for both the family and for the business to focus our time and energy on the original location,” the owners posted on Facebook.
As the name suggests, Enzo’s sells Italian beef and Italian sausage, as well as gyros, hot dogs and $1 slices of pizza. It used old family recipes and premium ingredients like top-quality pork butt and extra virgin olive oil.
Another Chicago Heights business may soon replace it in Schererville. A sign outside said Dozeli Pizzeria is coming soon.
Dozeli has been around for nearly three decades with locations in Chicago Heights and South Chicago Heights. It’s known for both thin-crust and deep-dish pizza, wings and deluxe sandwiches.
In other pizza news, and who doesn’t like pizza news, Domino’s is opening a new “pizza theater” restaurant where customers can watch the pizza being baked at 1918 165th St. in Hammond, its second in the city.
“We are dedicated to the Hammond area and are excited to better serve its residents,” said Hammond Domino’s franchise owner Jim Gronemann, who owns 15 other Domino’s stores in Indiana and Illinois. “We have a deeply experienced team of folks who live and work in Hammond, and they are eager to offer our delicious products, exceptional service and innovative ordering technology to the community.”
The Ann Arbor-based pizza company, the largest in the world based on retail sales, will celebrate its Dec. 3 opening by offering medium one-topping carryout pizzas for $3.99 each through Dec. 30, and by having a drawing on Dec. 24 for free pizza for a year.
The Hammond pizzeria also will offer 50 percent off to police officers, firefighters, first responders and members of the military on an ongoing basis.
The store is hiring and features a large lobby where customers can watch their food being prepared, an electronic screen for tracking carryout orders and a chalkboard “to allow customers to express their creativity or leave feedback for the store team members.”
For more information, visit www.dominos.com or call the pizzeria at 219-989-6550.
Big Lots relocated its Merrillville store to 3201 E. Lincoln Highway in Hobart and reopened with a new format, “which is part of a broader initiative to reposition the brand as a community retailer offering trustworthy value and friendly service,” the Columbus, Ohio-based retailer said in a press release.
“We are excited to introduce our new store format to Merrillville,” stated Steve Haffer, senior vice president and chief customer officer of Big Lots. “It brings to life our new brand traits and showcases our product assortments of affordable solutions in furniture, seasonal, home, food, and consumables.”
The discount retailer, which “offers a little bit of everything,” moved about 100 feet over to a new unit in a strip mall that also includes Xfinity Store.
To celebrate the opening, Big Lots plans to donate $5 to Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana anytime a BIG loyalty member redeems a reward there through Jan. 12.
For more information, call the store at 219-649-7119.
Business Ins and Outs
Times business reporter Joseph S. Pete provides the details on what’s coming and going in the Region retail and restaurant world.
NWI Business Ins and Outs: uBreakiFix opens in Crown Point, Tim’s Pizza closes, Family Dollar coming to Gary
The technology repair shop uBreakiFix has opened in Crown Point, where it will fix smartphones, tablets, computers, video game consoles and more.
The fast-growing company has 11 Indiana stores, including in Schererville, Michigan City and Portage. Franchisees Angelo and Alexandra Giannakopoulos established the new Crown Point location at 864 N. Superior Drive and hope to open more in the coming year.
“Crown Point has experienced incredible growth over the last few years, and we are excited to serve the community by providing a trusted place for tech repairs,” Angelo Giannakopoulos said. “We love being able to bring uBreakiFix to new communities because we truly believe in the mission of this company.”
The company now has more than 460 retail shops across North America and had made more than 4.5 million repairs on electronic devices, including of cracked screens and malfunctioning cameras. It offers same-day repair for products like the Samsung Galaxy and Google Pixle.
For more information, call 219-299-7959 or visit ubreakifix.com/locations/crownpoint.
Tim’s Pizza has baked its last pie in Crown Point.
The pizzeria at 1191 E. Summit St. specialized in crispy thin-crust, offering a slice and pop for just $2.50 on weekdays. It was a small take-out and delivery place that also served big burgers and appetizers like mozzarella sticks.
“It’s the last day for Tim’s Pizza,” the owners posted on Facebook. “We will miss all of our customers; you were the best.”
Tim’s Pizza had been in business in Crown Point for nine years.
The North Carolina-based chain Family Dollar plans to open a new store at 1421 W. 25th Ave. in Gary this week.
“Family Dollar is pleased to invite customers to experience our great value and broad assortment of merchandise in the Gary community,” spokeswoman Heather Briganti said. “Our customers can rely on Family Dollar for everyday low prices on household products, food, beauty and essentials, seasonal merchandise, apparel and much more.”
A grand opening with giveaways, prizes, and a gift basket raffle will take place on Thursday. The first 50 customers in line on Saturday will receive a gift card.
The discount retailer has been in business for more than 55 years, and primarily serves urban and rural areas in 46 states.
Bailey’s Mini Mart opened recently at 4802 Drummond St. in East Chicago.
“The city of East Chicago welcomes new small business in our community and wishes them much success,” the city said in a press release.
Bailey’s has a small kitchen and sells dollar tacos on Taco Tuesdays.
The convenience store is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday.
For more information call 219-354-8166
Business Ins and Outs
Times business reporter Joseph S. Pete provides the details on what’s coming and going in the Region retail and restaurant world.
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Porto’s Peri Peri to open in Schererville; Venice Pizza, Which Wich and Griffith Meat Market close
Porto’s Peri Peri is bringing its spicy flame-grilled Portuguese chicken to Schererville.
The Villa Park Illinois-based restaurant is opening in a strip mall outside the Shops on Main shopping center at Main Street and Indianapolis Boulevard, just south of the Highland border.
According to the Regency Centers website, it will occupy 2,338 square feet and replace Meatheads, which closed in January after a four-year run.
Porto’s Peri Peri is named after the super-hot chili pepper used in cuisines in Portugal, India and Africa. In Swahili, peri peri means “pepper pepper,” or “strong pepper.”
The cuisine has been gaining popularity in the Chicago area, with Nando’s Peri Peri opening several locations in the city.
Porto’s Peri Peri serves up chili-marinated chicken in portions that range from one-fourth chicken to a whole chicken, as well as platters. Beyond its signature entree, the restaurant serves couscous salad, quinoa salad, falafel, hummus, burgers and vegetarian options like paneer rice, along with sides like rice, steamed vegetable and flame-grilled corn on the cob.
“Our all-natural, vegetarian-fed chicken is fresh, never frozen and marinated for a minimum of 24 hours,” Porto’s Peri Peri said on its website. “Our unique Peri Peri sauces are made from African birds eye chilis mixed with fresh herbs and spices. Being nut, gluten and MSG free, our sauces are suitable for all.”
The Venice Pizza restaurants at 1302 N. Main St. in Crown Point and 1233 Sheffield Ave. in Dyer have served their last slice of pie.
“It is with great sadness that Venice Pizza in Dyer is in fact closing its doors for good,” Venice Pizza posted on its Facebook page. “As much as we appreciate and love our valued customers due to unforeseen and unfortunate property issues, we can no longer serve the Dyer community at this time. We are extremely sorry this didn’t work out & for the abrupt closing. We thank all of our amazing customers! This isn’t a goodbye, this is a hope to see you again. In the meantime, our Hammond location is still there & we recommend them to all. Thank you.”
The pizzeria, known for its tavern-style square cut pizza and distinctive logo of a cartoonish mustachioed Italian chef, also delivered to parts of Munster, sold pizza by the slice and described itself as “a family tradition.”
Venice Pizza is a 30-year-old family-owned business that grew to three locations, but only the Hammond location at 6940 Kennedy Ave. remains.
That pizzeria delivers to Hammond, Highland, East Chicago and Munster. In addition to specialty pizzas like taco pizza, The Hawaiian and chicken and broccoli, the eatery also serves Italian beef, pasta, chicken wings, calzones, cheese fries and shrimp dinners.
Business Ins and Outs
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Country Pancake House opens in Merrillville, Vegas Cafe to reopen in Schererville, Carlo’s Pizza/Big Butt BBQ shutters in Cedar Lake
Petros House of Pancakes and Restaurant served its final omelet in Merrillville this summer, but a new diner stepped in to fill the space in the Crossroads Plaza Shopping Center.
Country Pancake House is now slinging eggs, biscuits and gravy and coffee at 6190 Broadway in Merrillville. The 160-seat breakfast-and-lunch pancake house, which employs 11 workers, opened two weeks ago.
Owner Jose Perez has worked in restaurants for years after starting as a dishwasher, and always dreamed of opening his own place. Now his dream has become a reality.
“He worked really hard all his life from the ground up,” employee Kathy Taylor said. “After learning how to bus tables 30-some years ago, he worked really hard. He opened this restaurant through blood, sweat and tears.”
Perez took over Petros in August and has since been renovating the building.
“We worked to make it nicer inside with a pleasant, clean atmosphere,” Taylor said. “We try to give great service to the customers, who were glad to see the place come back. It is an entirely new entity with entirely new owners.”
Country Pancake House has kept many favorites on the menu for the regulars who continue to frequent it. It serves omelets, burgers, skillets, biscuits and gravy, grits, homemade rolls, chili, burgers, soups like stuffed pepper and chicken lemon rice and, of course, pancakes, offering “big, generous portions.”
A top seller has been the meat lover’s omelet with sausage, ham, bacon, green pepper, onion and cheese.
“He loves to make breakfast,” Taylor said of Perez. “We pride ourselves on customer service, good meals at an affordable price and being part of the neighborhood.”
Country Pancake House is open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week.
For more information, call 219-888-9858 or find Country Pancake House on Facebook.
Also in pancake news, Buttermilk Pancake House is moving into the former El Salto space in the historic Old Town Hall at Ridge Road and Calumet Avenue in Munster. The new restaurant at 805 Ridge Road is now hiring and invites walk-in job applicants.
Sir Mix-a-Lot, who could not lie, likely would have liked Carlo’s Pizza/Big Butt BBQ in Cedar Lake, but not enough people in town did to keep it open.
The pizza and barbecue restaurant at 13231 Wicker Ave., whose logo featured a cartoonish pig with an ample posterior, closed without warning. Its phone number was disconnected, its website was down, and the owners could not be reached for comment.
Opened in 2013, Carlo’s Pizza/Big Butt BBQ was a family restaurant and sports bar that served barbecue styles from across the country, with a focus on South Side Chicago BBQ. It had an outdoor patio with cornhole games, and was known for its brisket and generous portions of ribs.
Vegas Cafe ran out of luck and closed in Schererville, but a new owner likes the odds of its succeeding.
The restaurant at 800 Cedar Parkway, a rare independent in a stretch of Indianapolis Boulevard that’s heavily dominated by chains, opened in 2016. Vegas Cafe specialized in oven-baked, often open-faced sandwiches with Vegas-inspired names like the MGM Grand, Mirage, Venetian, Monte Carlo, Belagio, Excalibur and Flamingo.
Splashy Sin City decor lined the walls, and daily raffles and live musical acts gave diners in the Tri-Town a little taste of the Vegas experience.
The restaurant shuttered without explanation, but signs in the windows Thursday said it would reopen soon under new management.
Also in Vegas-themed restaurant news, the Vegas Baby Cafe is looking to open in the former Zuchez Restaurant and Bar at 211 N. Broad St. in Griffith.
Zuchez opened just north of downtown Griffith in 2017, aiming to be a nightclub with dancing, 64-ounce margaritas, a downtown date night-like restaurant and a breakfast joint serving biscuits and gravy. It lasted less than a year.
Business Ins and Outs
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Sav-A-Lot supermarket coming to South Haven, Bin 27 closes in Dyer, fitness studio and Freshii opening in Crown Point
The unincorporated community of South Haven in Porter County has been without a grocery store since Al’s Supermarket closed in spring of 2017, but that will soon change.
Save-A-Lot will take over about 18,500 square feet of the former Al’s space at 390 U.S. 6.
“We are really excited for Save-A-Lot to join the center. There has been a great need for a grocer in the area since the last tenant left and I fully expect the community to completely embrace them,” said Brett McDermott of Latitude Commercial, a commercial real estate firm in Schererville that represents tenants, landlords and developers across Northwest Indiana and the south suburbs.
Save-A-Lot is a national discount grocery chain with local locations in Merrillville, Hammond, Michigan City, and Kouts. The local franchisee will run the new South Haven store, which will offer fresh produce and meats sliced daily.
An F45 Training fitness studio and a Freshii fast-casual restaurant are coming to Broadway in Crown Point.
Freshii is a Canadian fast-casual chain most commonly located in urban centers. It sells fresh, healthy food like burritos, salads, wraps, and yogurt. The lunch-oriented restaurant has multiple locations in Chicago’s Loop.
F45 Training is a national gym chain with 1,300 locations in 36 countries. It offers 27 different 45-minute high-intensity interval training workout classes. Its workouts cycle through 4,000 different exercises so gym-goers don’t ever do the same workout twice, and their fitness doesn’t hit a plateau.
“This is a great first location in the area for F45,” said McDermott, who represented F45 in the lease transaction. “I really think the community will embrace the concept as we have nothing like it around us.”
Bin 27 Grille & Lounge, a fine dining restaurant that specialized in steaks and seafood, has served its last glass of wine. The restaurant at 275 Joliet St., Dyer, was named after its carefully curated selection of 27 wines.
Comcast plans to open a new Xfinity Store at 1918 165th St. in Hammond early next year.
“The stores are awesome places to visit and learn more about Xfinity products and services from the trained store staff,” said John Crowley, Comcast’s greater Chicago region senior vice president. “Visitors are welcome to come in and experience our products and services like they would at home.”
The store will sell Comcast services such as cable, internet, home security and mobile phone service. Visitors can use display iPads and other mobile devices to check out apps like the Xfinity Stream that lets people watch live TV on mobile devices when connected to wifi.
The store will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
One of Comcast’s biggest competitors, AT&T, just opened a new store at 7917 Indianapolis Boulevard in Hammond.
“It’s great to have this new space in Hammond where you can walk right in and quickly learn about AT&T’s many tools and services that benefit our residents, businesses and tourists,” Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said. “Improving the livability of our community is very important to us, and we’re excited that AT&T shares in our enthusiasm about the city.”
The 3,500-square-foot store features many different screens displaying AT&T’s video, internet and wireless services. Customers can check out tablets, smartwatches and VR glasses.
“We’re delighted to be opening this new entertainment-focused retail store in Hammond,” said Thomas Monahan, AT&T vice president and general manager of the Great Lakes region. “The Hammond store is designed for an evolution in connected entertainment, and customers will be able to interact with content across many different screens.”
The AT&T store is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Overstuffed opens in Highland, Meijer adds sushi bar, Volstead closing
Tim Champagne, who’s handled concessions for the Gary South Shore RailCats, Chicago Fire, Colorado Rockies, Oakland A’s and San Jose Sharks, won’t let diners leave hungry at his new Overstuffed Skillets and Sandwiches restaurant.
It’s got some extreme menu items — think a chicken finger sub sandwich topped with mozzarella sticks, cheese curds and more.
The breakfast and lunch joint is in the old Zorba’s space at 3309 45th St. in Highland, on the Griffith border.
“We gutted it and put in new carpet, tile, floors and booths,” Champagne said. “We redid every booth, every chair in the place. We got granite and stainless steel in the kitchen. Everything back there is new.”
The 140-seat restaurant serves pancakes, French toast, skillets, omelets, a breakfast burrito with green chilies, burgers, sandwiches and Philly cheesesteaks.
“It’s all the food I love to eat,” Champagne said. “Overstuffed has large portions and large, overstuffed sandwiches and skillets. Anyone looking to cut calories probably shouldn’t come here.”
A specialty is “The Overstuffed Bomb” sandwiches that are stacked almost alarmingly high. The Chili Bomb tops a hamburger with “chili, shredded cheddar cheese, grilled all-beef hot dog, more chili, more cheese, tater tots, even more chili and even more cheese on a sub roll.” The Italian Bomb tops chicken fingers with mozzarella sticks, pizza bites, cheese curds, mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce. The Buffalo Bomb starts with a Buffalo Chicken Philly sandwich that’s buried under Buffalo chicken tenders, jalapeño poppers, buffalo fries, crumbled blue cheese and ranch dressing.
Overstuffed has several varieties of Philly cheesesteaks, a “fork and knife” chili cheese dog, a triple grilled cheese sandwich, a Reuben and a fried baloney deluxe sandwich with a thick steak-like slice of baloney that’s grilled, topped with bacon, American cheese, mayo and an over-easy egg, and served in Texas toast.
Breakfast and lunch items will be available all day at the diner, which employs 15 people. Champagne surveyed other local restaurants to ensure competitive prices, like $8.75 for skillets.
“We’ve got some pretty big portions,” he said. “We’re right in the middle of Griffith and Highland, and those communities have really been my focus. This place has been empty for a long time and we put a lot of money into it. We hope to bring back this strip mall.”
Champagne hopes to draw breakfast regulars as well as local high school students, who he hopes will drop by for milkshakes after school.
“We really tried to make our menu stand out,” he said. “The food and service will be top notch. Everything is homemade and we try to use as much local stuff as possible to keep it in the community.”
Overstuffed is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, call 219-595-0290, visit overstuffedskillets.com or find the business in Facebook.
Meijer completed renovations to its big box store at 10138 Indianapolis Blvd. in Highland, and celebrated with a grand re-opening Sunday.
The Grand Rapids-based retailer added a drive-through for the pharmacy and a consultation room where people can meet with their pharmacist and get a wellness checkup or a flu shot.
The store added a sushi bar in the deli section where customers can get pre-made sushi trays, order sushi rolls by request from on-hand sushi chefs, or buy rolls for $4.99 on “Sushi Wednesdays.”
Meijer added a new pet department with premium pet food like Blue Buffalo, more than 200 pet treats and “a wide range of toys.” It expanded the Baby Department and the Apparel Department, adding a Skechers shop with more than 130 shoes and a Carter’s Shop for kids and babies.
Volstead, a highly regarded “unconventional” fine dining restaurant in Chesterton, closed Saturday.
The restaurant, known for its progressive American food, opened about a year and a half ago in a house at 225 S. Calumet Road. The Duneland eatery was known for craft cocktails, curated craft beers, an extensive wine list and wine pairing dinners. It drew its name from the Volstead Act that enforced Prohibition in the United States.
Volstead featured a creative menu that catered to the foodie set. Entrees included a bahn mi burger, milk-braised pork with crispy kale and pickled garlic and schnitzel with pickled raisins, gremolata, caramelized cauliflower and mushroom conserva.
Volstead was well reviewed, earning 4.7 out of a possible 5 stars from reviewers on Facebook. One reviewer from Chicago even claimed it had “the best burger in Chicagoland” and “gave Au Cheval a run for best burger.”
Spokeswoman Monica Jimenez Susoreny said Volstead was closing because chef and co-owner Dino Cocco was moving out of state. There are already plans afoot to open a new restaurant in the space next spring.
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Ex-Colts player wants to open Stacked Pickle in Schererville, Quaker Steak and Lube returns, Gayety’s closed?
Former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Gary Brackett, who helped defeat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI, is looking to bring his Stacked Pickle restaurant chain to the Region.
The sports-themed restaurant that serves traditional American fare like burgers, wings, flatbread pizza and its namesake fried pickles has nine restaurants in the Indianapolis area and West Lafayette, and recently lined up franchisees in Houston, Orlando and Dayton, Ohio.
As part of an expansion across Indiana, Brackett is looking to open Stacked Pickles in Schererville, Merrillville and potentially other Region locations that could include Gary and Crown Point.
“The demographics there are very good,” Brackett said. “I think the concept would be a great fit.”
After retiring from nine seasons in the National Football League in 2011, Brackett started the Indianapolis-based Stacked Pickle casual dining restaurant and bar chain, which aims to have “a family-friendly neighborhood atmosphere” and compete with the likes of Buffalo Wild Wings and Buffalo Wings and Rings, which also has been soliciting franchisees in the Region. Popular dishes include a burger/wings combo and a pork tenderloin sandwich.
Stacked Pickle hopes to grow through franchising because franchisees tend to “have a better understanding of the neighborhood” and “a better commitment to the community,” Brackett said. Potential franchisees would have to invest $450,000 to $900,000 to open a Stacked Pickle location.
The restaurants are typically around 4,000 to 5,000 square feet, seating 150 diners and employing about 35 to 50 people. They could be located in a new building, an existing one or a strip mall.
“We’re the top sports bar here in Central Indiana,” Brackett said. “It’s going national. We’ve spent a lot of time on it. We’ve opened nine restaurants in eight years, and have it down so well that it’s turnkey.”
For more information, visit stackedpickle.com.
The Quaker Steak and Lube in Portage closed in May a few months after another chicken wing-focused restaurant, Hooters, opened next door in the AmeriPlex at the Port business park.
The past franchisee “decided to do something else for a living,” said Bruce Lane, vice president of operations for franchise services for Quaker Steak and Lube. But the corporate head office in Pennsylvania, which runs 50 of the gas station- and muscle car-themed casual dining restaurants nationally, decided the Portage location was too prime to just let close for good.
The company has since remodeled the 5,500-square-foot restaurant at 6245 Ameriplex Drive, and plans to reopen it Monday. It will feature a new interior and new food items.
“It will debut a new menu that’s coming out nationally,” Lane said. “It has new steaks, new burgers and new sauces for our wings. It’s highly elevated, more than the burgers and wings we’re known for and that are award-winning.”
When the restaurant first opened in the 1970s, it was a cook-your-own-steak place. It’s now owned by Travel Centers of America and is known for chicken wings coated with often extreme hot sauces like Triple Atomic, Super-Charged and Dusted Ghost Pepper. The Portage location opened about seven years ago just north of Interstate 94.
“It was a very popular area, a very successful area,” Lane said. “The people in the area are familiar with the brand.”
Quaker Steak and Lube did extensive renovations before reopening the restaurant as a corporate-run location.
“We have done almost a full scrape and rebuild, including the back of the house,” Lane said. “We have all new ceilings, a couple new walls, updated floors, new paint, new chairs, and a much more vibrant and modern building.”
Quaker Steak and Lube hired 150 workers, including several past employees. The restaurant plans to have car shows, concerts and events “outside its four walls” throughout the year.
Lane said it would also try to be more neighborly than the previous franchisee, who was notorious for having a parking lot attendant shoosh away cars trying to park in the restaurant’s lot to visit the nearby Starbucks, even at odd hours when the huge Quaker Steak and Lube lot was nearly empty.
“There’s plenty of parking for everyone,” Lane said.
The new management isn’t intimidated by the new Hooters eatery 300 yards away.
“Competition breeds excellence,” Lane said. “Quaker Steak and Lube and Hooters both have their customers, and this is adding another dining option for the clientele. It’s a longstanding restaurant that’s been here for a while. We’re thrilled to be back, and invite people to check out our new building and new menu.”
The restaurant will open at 4 p.m. Monday.
Quaker Steak and Lube will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
For more information, call 219-706-6200, visit www.thelube.com/locations/indiana/portage or find the business on Facebook.
Gayety’s Chocolates & Ice Cream abruptly closed both its Lansing and Schererville locations “for remodeling.”
A voicemail recording at the Lansing ice cream parlor and chocolate shop on Ridge Road in downtown Lansing said it was closed for remodeling. The owners did not respond to messages and the website was down, which is often not a good sign.
The beloved local chain has a long history dating back to 1920 when the chocolate shop opened in Chicago. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2014 but remained open after restructuring its debt.
Business Ins and Outs
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Wise Guys Discount Liquors opens in Chesterton, Arbor View Animal Hospital expands
Wise Guys Discount Liquors has opened a new store at 1601 S. Calumet Road in Chesterton.
The local chain, a spinoff of the WiseWay grocery stores, is known for wide and well-curated selections similar to Binny’s in Chicago. It’s also known for its frequent Wise Guy University classes educating consumers on wines, cocktails and other booze-related subjects. Wise Guys also has big-box stores in Hobart and Merrillville.
The company announced on Facebook that the Chesterton store, by Round the Clock restaurant near the intersection of Ind. 49 and County Road 1100, has “the same great selection and customer service you’ve come to expect from Wise Guys.” There’s an extensive array of craft beer and a “one-of-a-kind fine wine corner.”
The liquor store is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from noon until 8 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 219-728-1781.
Purdue University Northwest plans to open its new Indianapolis Boulevard Counseling Center in Hammond after a ribbon cutting with dignitaries at 1 p.m. Oct. 25.
The new off-campus facility is located at 7030 Indianapolis Blvd. in a building that previously housed a grocery and furniture store. It’s now home to Purdue Northwest’s Community Counseling Center and Marriage and Family Therapy Center.
Those offices were formerly located on 169th Street but closed so neighboring Korellis Roofing could expand its headquarters.
La Cabana has moved into the old Indy Cafe space across from the South Shore Line station in East Chicago.
The restaurant at 5654 Indianapolis Blvd. serves up an array of traditional Mexican foods such as molettes, quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos and tacos that are served with rice and beans. Menudo soup is available on weekends, if you’re wondering how authentic it is.
For commuters into Chicago, there’s an extensive array of breakfast options like huevos ranchero, huevos a la Mexicana, huevos con chorizo, and huevos con jamon.
La Cabana is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, call 219-354-0075 or find La Cabana on Facebook.
Aldi recently reopened its stores at 795 Deer Creek Drive in Schererville and at 5102 Franklin St. in Michigan City after extensive renovations.
The Germany-based discount supermarket chain, one of the largest grocers operating in the Region, has been pumping more than $180 million into more than 130 stores across Chicagoland, including Northwest Indiana. It’s investing more than $1.9 billion in its U.S. stores by 2020.
Arbor View Animal Hospital, the only animal hospital in Northwest Indiana specializing in the care and treatment of exotic animals, has moved to a larger location at 244 West U.S. 6 in Valparaiso.
“Arbor View is the same hospital, but in a new building,” Arbor View Animal Hospital Office Manager Boddie Smith said. “We are so excited to share our brand new facility with our clients and the community. With our larger, updated hospital we are proud to be able to care for more pets than ever before, while maintaining the same high quality of care we have been giving for decades.”
In addition to exotic animals, the hospital treats, boards and grooms family pets.
For more information, call 219-762-7267.
Business Ins and Outs
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Juice bar opens in Highland, Buona Beef coming to C.P., The Annex boutique closes
The Green Witch Juice Bar and Cafe is bringing healthy, nutritious fare to downtown Highland with an array of juices, smoothies and trendy foods like avocado toast.
The 1,400-square-foot juicery at 2845 Highway Ave. in downtown Highland plans to celebrate its grand opening from 11:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Oct. 12 with raffles, live music and activities for kids.
Owners Verginiya Burgess and Tina Bilow sell juices like the top-selling “green detox” with cucumber, apple, spinach and lime, and smoothies including one with strawberry, spinach and yogurt. They have a juice menu but encourage customization.
“There’s no limit,” Burgess said. “You can combine as many vegetables and fruits as you like.”
The food menu is designed to appeal to vegans, vegetarians and carnivores alike. It includes a Caprese flatbread, tofu sandwiches, Greek and beet salads and “detox soup.”
“We have a senior menu and want to show people that they can eat healthily and organically without it being expensive,” Burgess said. “The main point is we want to promote natural, organic and healthy eating, and get people to incorporate it into their daily routine.”
The juice bar currently has about 18 to 20 seats for dining in.
“We’re working on a comfortable lounge where there can be different meetings, such as ladies’ night out,” Burgess said. “We plan to educate on healthy eating and can have detox seminars and classes there. We want events that will bring people together.”
There’s a retail section where The Green Witch sells oils, teas, cosmetics and “everything you need for a natural lifestyle.”
The business is named after a “naturalist, herbalist and wise woman.”
“She’s not considered a witch,” Burgess said. “It doesn’t have to do with witchcraft, and it’s not a Halloween store.”
The Green Witch is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
For more information, find The Green Witch on Facebook or Instagram.
Red Wing Shoes, the Minnesota-based footwear company that made boots for U.S. soldiers in World War I and World War II, has opened at 7909 Indianapolis Blvd. in south Hammond, across from Cabela’s and Walmart.
The 1,600-square-foot store in a new strip mall employs four workers and sells Red Wing and Irish Setter boots that are manufactured in America. The shop also sells socks, gloves, belts, footbeds and other accessories.
“National brands are coming to Hammond,” Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said. “The city continues to grow.”
Red Wing Shoes is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from noon until 5 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, call 219-803-2803.
A Great Clips and an AT&T store also have opened next to Red Wing Shoes in the new strip mall.
“It’s good to see businesses coming to and investing in Hammond,” McDermott said.
The AT&T cellphone and accessories store at 7917 Indianapolis Blvd. can be reached at 219-844-1848 and is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The hair care salon at 7911 Indianapolis Blvd. can be reached at 219-554-6672 and is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Great Clips, which also has nearby locations in Munster and Schererville, takes walk-ins.
The Annex boutique closes Saturday in downtown Highland, but will transition into an online business.
The store at 8638 Fourth St., which had been on Kennedy Avenue just south of downtown before relocating, sold fashion and locally made goods that included zines, bath balls and wallets.
“After tons of thinking and praying I’ve decided to close the shop,” owner Sarah Spezza wrote on Facebook. “I am so grateful for all the love and support I’ve received since opening the door two years ago. Just because the brick and mortar is gone doesn’t mean The Annex is. I plan on bringing a bigger online presence, including regular Facebook Live events, and you’ll definitely see me at the markets.”
Buona Beef plans to open its second Northwest Indiana location in Crown Point, said Aaron McDermott, president of Latitude Commercial, a major commercial real estate agency based in Schererville.
The Italian beef chain entered the Northwest Indiana market earlier this year by opening at 324 U.S. 41 in Schererville, its first restaurant outside of Illinois.
The fast-casual restaurant started in Berwyn 37 years ago and has since expanded throughout the Chicago area, including at Guaranteed Rate Field and Wrigley Field. It specializes in traditional Chicago fare such as Chicago dogs, Italian sausage, and pepper and egg sandwiches served on Fridays during Lent.