24 favorite local businesses

I don’t know who Samantha Goldsberry is, but I do know she’s a Fort Wayne blogger with excellent taste.

Back in November, she listed her 24 favorite local businesses. I’m happy to say I’ve been to some of her favorites, but I still need to visit some more in order to become an official gold-star Fort Wayne resident. (I moved here in 1998, btw.)

Here are the places she listed that I’ve visited:

  • Atz’s Ice Cream Shoppe: The servings are ginormous
  • Coney Island: The ambiance is perfectly ’50s.
  • Cebolla’s Mexican Grille: Great place to take family.
  • Firefly Cafe: Great place to take wife.
  • Munchie’s Emporium: I can’t resist the unwraps.
  • Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo: What family doesn’t have a zoo pass?
  • Azar’s Big Boy: Oh boy the fish and chips.

Notice how many of them are restaurants!

I am embarrassed to say I haven’t been to the following, although they’re so close to where I live:

  • Powers Hamburgers
  • Cindy’s Diner
  • The Thirsty Camel
  • Three Rivers Co-op

But here are some additional places that I think say “Fort Wayne” that I have visited and that she didn’t list:

  • Bell’s Roller Rink
  • Paula’s on Main
  • Redwood Inn
  • Castle Gallery

What do you think? I didn’t grow up here, so tell me: What locally owned places can you name that exemplify Fort Wayne culture?

photo by Everett White on Flickr

The question of rural development

Before the week completely gets away from me, I should mention Kevin Leininger’s column in Saturday’s News-Sentinel with the headline “A battle over property rights.”

Here’s the lead:

Drive down most any road in rural Allen County and you’ll see them in increasing numbers: new homes scattered among the barns, fields, fences and old farmhouses.

But the pastoral tranquility is deceiving. County planners and many developers see those homes as an impediment to sensible growth – while real-estate agents defend them as monuments to property rights.

The problem isn’t the parceling of the land. It’s the roads, the sewers, the water and the utilities. And I’m finding I’m not as libertarian on the issue as I once was.

I really couldn’t care less what color your house is, and whether or not you own a horse — if you can control the smell somewhat. But we property owners are all in this together when the discussion turns to roads and utilities. Some control seems necessary.

I’d love to hear Rachel‘s take on this — and anyone else who has a stake in the discussion.

Update: The county approved the land-sale rules (as Rachel points out in a comment below).

Snuffed out

The West State Cafe is the kind of little restaurant that’s easily overlooked — it’s not cool, it’s not fancy, it’s not youth-oriented and it’s not spending lots of money on advertising.

So when Fort Wayne’s smoking ban forced it out of business, it was easy to not notice.

Thankfully, Kevin Leininger did notice. And he tells us the plight of David Hecke in his column in today’s News-Sentinel.

Hecke lost a half million dollars on his investment and can legitimately blame the smoking ban:

“My business dropped 60 percent (after smoking in restaurants was outlawed). People who smoke are more social and want to be out with friends,” said Hecke, who bought the 50-year-old building at 1329 W. State Blvd. in 2003 and closed it Nov. 5 — the day before City Councilman John Crawford, the law’s chief supporter, was defeated in his bid for re-election. “I went home and cried. For four years I never missed a day, opening at 4:30 a.m. and closing at 9 p.m. I was where I wanted to be, doing what I wanted to do.”

We have to be honest: This is not an unintended consequence of the smoking ban. The closing of the West State Cafe is an intended consequence.

There was no chance that every smoker in the city would continue to go to restaurants if each one has to stand in the cold to have a cigarette. And there was also no chance that every restaurant in the city could afford to build roofed patios for their customers who smoke.

Now, what does all of this have to do with The Good City? Plenty, because a central tenet is neighborliness and courtesy. Smoking is a health problem, sure, but the rush to push all of the city’s smokers to the curb was downright rude.

The city didn’t seek some sort of long-term solution for this long-term problem. Instead, it instituted a sudden morality crusade that left a lot of hard feelings in its wake. That’s too bad, because it irritated a citizenry that now is all too ready to oppose other “progressive” projects like Harrison Square. I’m afraid the splintering effects of the smoking ban on our community will continue for years.

UPDATE: Rachel Blakeman offers a counterpoint and graciously links over to me.

Photo by armisteadbooker on Flickr

Indy’s new downtown library

The Indianapolis Central Library opened today in downtown Indy, and The Indy Star gave its front page to a review by architecture critic Lawrence W. Cheek.

He finds the library astonishingly well done, despite budget overruns and delays. But I thought his discussion of the purpose of the library’s glass atrium may be applicable to what has been happening in Fort Wayne:

It’s 7,000 prodigiously expensive square feet that could have translated into tons of new books. It might inspire people to feel good about themselves, or about Indianapolis, but what does it have to do with the mission of a library?

Here’s where the future comes into play. When we can do any research on a laptop at home in the den, and download e-books that are as readable as ink on paper — almost at hand right now — then the public library becomes irrelevant unless it works as a place that generates community, a church of information where people come for interactive enlightenment.

Read his article here.

I think Fort Wayne’s downtown library and Harrison Square show that “generating community” is not only important, but entirely achievable. Fort Wayne’s library, although certainly not as ambitious as Indy’s, is already a hub of activity. Our town seems ready to embrace everything a revitalized downtown can offer.

More links:

The Indy Star’s Central Library coverage.

Cheek critiques the Seattle Central Library — and shows he can retract premature praise.

The main Web page for the Indy Central Library.