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Feb. 6, 2024 | What's behind craft beverage closings?

Feb. 6, 2024 | What's behind craft beverage closings?

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Hey Locals,

If you're like us, you can't help wondering what's going on with the recent spate of closings in the city's craft beverage scene. We look into possible factors below, along with the latest on Fort Wayne's first climbing gym, Science Central's forthcoming planetarium and more.

We also meet the founder of a new small business filling gaps in the healthcare system to support families of all kinds.

But first...

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What's behind the recent turnover in Fort Wayne's craft beverage scene?

In the past few months, a handful of breweries, distilleries, and wineries have shuttered locations or closed down completely.

What's happening?

In the past few months, a handful of local breweries, distilleries, and wineries have shuttered locations or closed down completely. Here's what we know:

  • GnomeTown on the Landing: A few weeks back, GnomeTown Brewing Company announced it was exiting its partnership with The Landing Beer Co. Peter Shuey, of GnomeTown's parent company, ObiCai (which also owns BakerStreet, Proximo, and the Hoppy Gnome), says they had been managing the space for The Landing, and "the decision was made to close based on many factors, but in the end, it just wasn't headed the direction (The Landing Beer Co.) preferred." GnomeTown will continue to brew out of its location at the Hoppy Gnome. A representative of The Landing told us they are "working through options now" for what will take over the space at 118 W. Columbia Street.
  • Trubble Brewing: Last year, Trubble closed its location on Broadway, which had been open since 2015, with plans to relocate to an unspecified location (rumored to be Downtown). But the new location and a promised announcement in October 2023 never materialized. And just last week, Indiana Beer & Spirits News announced that owner Chad Hankee has officially decided not to re-open. (We've reached out to the company to confirm, but have not heard back.)
  • Three Rivers Distilling Co.: The most recent closing, and one of the most puzzling — the company announced two weeks ago that it was closing temporarily for kitchen renovations, and a week later, reversed course, writing on Instagram that it was permanently shutting down "effective immediately." (We sent a message to the owners and will let you know if/what we hear.)
  • Country Heritage (Downtown): On Dec. 31, Country Heritage closed its location in the Ash Skyline Plaza Downtown, in part to focus on a new distillery the winery is building at its Laotto headquarters, north of town. According to WANE-TV, among other things, Indiana liquor laws would not have allowed the company to distribute its spirits at the Downtown location. (Stringent state liquor laws also led to the loss of Hotel Tango Fort Wayne, aka HT2, last summer.)
  • Of course, the landscape is far from empty: Many options remain, including Mad Anthony, Junk Ditch, Hop River, Fortlandia, Kekionga Craft Company, 2Toms, Summit City Brewerks, Chapman's (which has a new location opening soon at Electric Works) and more. Not to mention dozens of bars and restaurants serving all kinds of locally crafted alcohols.

Why it matters

Is this normal market turnover, or a sign of trouble in the local craft brewing scene? We look into some of the major factors at play in our premium newsletter, available with a 30-day free trial.

  • Fort Wayne's first bouldering gym is making progress. Summit City Climbing Gym announced on Instagram that it has received the necessary permits to begin construction on its 2,000-foot facility at 1331 E. Berry St. and is on track to open this spring.
  • Science Central begins planetarium construction. Last week, demolition began on the west side of Science Central's facility, paving the way for what the organization says is the first public planetarium in Northeast Indiana. The nearly 2,000 square foot project, scheduled to be complete this summer, will feature a 21-foot-high dome and seat 60 people.

Plus: Utopian Community Grocery, "The Color Purple" at the Civic, and more. Read about these local stories in our premium newsletter.

Meet the Labor & Delivery nurse leaving the hospital to support local families.

We get personal in a Q&A with Owner and Founder of Empowering Families, LLC, Donielle Krempel, BSN-RN.

Donielle Krempel, BSN-RN, of Fort Wayne recently opened Empowering Families, LLC, to serve anyone seeking information on family planning, pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum.

What's happening?

  • As you may know: we (The Local's Co-Founders, Kara and Mike), are currently on maternity/paternity leave with our newborn son, Charlie. And this time away has been beautiful, but also, perspective-shifting on the challenges facing people transitioning to parenthood in the U.S.
  • Namely: there's just not enough family-planning, pregnancy and postpartum support to help families thrive — even under the best circumstances. So when we heard our friend, Donielle Krempel, BSN-RN, was launching a new small business to do just that, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to interview her about her work.
  • This month: Krempel launched Empowering Families, LLC, to apply her personal experience as a mother, coupled with her experience as a Labor & Delivery nurse, to support families of all kinds in Fort Wayne. And we can't wait to fill you in on the details!

Why it matters

  • Statistically: Indiana has the 3rd highest maternal mortality rate in the U.S. at 44 deaths per 100,000 live births and the 7th highest infant mortality rate at 7.16, according to data from 2022. So more support for women, children and families is clearly needed, and Krempel has witnessed ways that families are falling through the gaps of our current healthcare system, which tends to focus on quantity over quality of care.
  • In Fort Wayne: many programs seek to serve local families, but as Kremple notes: “too many programs limit or decline families based on income requirements, visit volumes and gestation dates you must sign up by to participate, etc." In other words, not everyone is able to take advantage of the support that exists — particularly, nontraditional families.
  • On the flip side: “Empowering Families has no restrictions on how much or little a family’s income is, or how many visits families can choose when they choose to sign up," Krempel says. "We don’t just serve mothers and fathers; we serve families of all kinds. For example: Grandparents parenting for a second time, single parents, teenage parents, childless families, adoptive families, the highly educated, foster families, stepfamilies and any other family structure you can think of.”

Learn more in our full interview!

  • Swoon: for the Honey Plant's pre-Valentine's party with plants, sweets, jewelry and crafts on Feb. 11 at 5 p.m. ($65 tickets). Register online here.
  • Admire: the FWMoA's Scholastic Art & Writing Awards exhibit, opening Feb. 10 with the best work from area students in 28 categories of art and writing.
  • Quiz: yourself on 90s pop culture with a trivia night Feb. 9, 6-8 p.m., at Union Street Market, hosted by Tincture of Trivia.

What else? We recommend more things to do in our premium newsletter. Try it out with a 30-day free trial.

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Have a great week, Locals!

-Ryan Schnurr (filling in for Kara and Mike)