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March 12, 2024 | Nightlife is back on The Landing

March 12, 2024 | Nightlife is back on The Landing

Hey Locals,

You've probably seen previews of new cocktail bars, Dana's and Night Train, on Instagram. Last week, a few lucky subscribers got a special preview of the spaces and menus, and let us tell you: they're worth the hype. We share what to order and watch for in our Talk of the Week.

We also learn about an ever-elusive soccer stadium being planned – now for the Southwest side. And we get an update on passenger rail plans to connect Fort Wayne to Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Don't forget: This month all paid subscribers get a FREE draft beer at Chapman's new location at Electric Works. You can gain access to our monthly freebies (and our premium newsletter) with a paid membership. And guess what? You can get that beer with this 30-day free trial.

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Now, let's get started.

Late-night culture is back on The Landing.

We have details on the bars, the cocktails and the food you didn't know you needed....

Dana's Co-Founder Sam Albertson, left, makes a Promenade Park Swizzle for guests at our private preview of new bars on The Landing.

What's happening?

Two new bars, Night Train and Dana's (with the adjoining Blue Bottle Shop), open tomorrow in the former C-Street and Bourbon Street Hideaway spaces on The Landing. (And they're already taking reservations.)

Last week: about 20 lucky subscribers to The Local were the very first guests at these establishments, where we taste tested craft cocktails and food. (Spoiler: it's all delicious!) We also had a special meet and greet with three of the Co-Founders at Be Better Hospitality: Preston Wallace, Sam Albertson and Trevor Scovel (previously featured).

Here's what you need to know:

  • Both bars are 21+ only and open late-night every day. Dana's is an upscale cocktail lounge open 4 p.m.-midnight, with brunch service Saturdays and Sundays, starting at 10 a.m. and a kitchen pause 2-4 p.m. Night Train is a casual, late-night spot open 6 p.m.-3 a.m. (with special late-night brunch on weekends).
  • Blue Bottle is a small, bartender-curated liquor store. Think foreign, eclectic liquors, rare wines, mixers, bartending gear and more. It also doubles as an intimate venue for private dinners. "Blue Bottle was the name of an actual store on The Landing in the 1800s," says Scovel. "We thought it would be cool to bring that back."
  • Both spots serve food – and it's definitely worth ordering. Dana's has French influences, ranging from oysters to a show-stopping côte de boeuf, a 42-day, dry-aged rib-eye cut two inches thick (Mike's favorite). Night Train has elevated junk food, like sliders and pizza logs with housemade ranch (Kara's favorite). The menu is designed by Culinary Director/Chef Adam Heller, formerly of The Bradley.
  • Unique craft cocktails are the focus. Dana's will have 24 cocktails on the menu – half seasonal. One favorite is a Promenade Park Swizzle made with vodka, passionfruit, lime and champagne cordial. Night Train will be more casual with creations, like a bubble gum negroni (made with Hubba Bubba) and a grape highball (built around Grape Crush). Scovel and Albertson have competed in World Class bartending competitions and spent hours perfecting recipes. "We've been doing this style of bartending for over 10 years now, so we've gotten really good at understanding flavor," Albertson says. "This will be the first time a lot of these drinks have ever been made."
  • You don't have to be a cocktail expert. Wallace says they will have an educational component to their businesses, recalling his own learning process. "When I was a server (previously), I had to go through rum training with Trevor, and I was mortified because I had no clue what he was talking about," he says. “I am not the bartender by trade that these guys are, so that’s part of thinking behind these concepts, too. We want the spaces to feel welcoming to those who are less familiar with the nuances of spirits and cocktails, so people can ask questions and find out what they like.”
  • They've revamped the Old C-street building... and now there's dancing downstairs. If you're familiar with the former layout, C-Street's bar is slightly shifted. But it still has its historic bar back and ceiling tiles – painted black. There's a line of new cozy booths along the wall, too. But if you want to dance, the former dance floor is walled off (turned into apartments/retail next door). Luckily, Night Train in the old Bourbon Street (sans Mardi Gras beads) has a small dance floor/DJ space, just begging you to make some new late-night memories you might forget.

Why it matters

Learn about the bigger picture (and how liquor laws are changing in Indiana) in our premium newsletter, available with a 30-day free trial.

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  • Where will Fort Wayne's football club play? Multiple locations have been discussed Downtown, but last week, BND Commercial LLC filed a rezoning request for a Southwest project:* the Bass Road Multi Purpose Soccer Complex across from Buckner Park. It includes a field with 7,500 seats and four luxury suites. The Fort Wayne Football Club begins its fourth season May 18. The Plan Commission will hear public opinion on the project April 11 at 1 p.m. at Citizens Square. If approved, the site will host soccer at all levels, as well as field hockey, along with potential softball fields. A Downtown soccer stadium was previously pitched by DOMO Development as part of a $1.5 billion riverfront plan. It is one of nine proposals the city is still reviewing for the former Pepsi facility.
  • Acclaimed indie rock band Alvvays will headline Middle Waves Music Festival on June 15 at Parkview Field. The festival also features three regional bands: indie rock/grunge band Pom Pom Squad, alternative blues band Houndmouth and indie-Americana band Murder by Death, (the latter two have roots in Indiana). Former Fort Wayne rock band Overlook (now in Nashville) will kick off the festivities, which include an art zone, creativity zone, game zone, vendor zone and food and beverages. General admission is $40. $10 for kids 12 and under. Learn more.

Plus: A bus shelter scandal, healthcare alternatives, new economic development areas and more. Read about these local stories in our premium newsletter.

Fort Wayne's big passenger rail project is progressing.

We have updates on the Midwest Connect Corridor.

The Midwest Connect Corridor route.

What's happening?

The Midwest Connect Corridor passenger rail project via Fort Wayne is one of 69 national projects (and four in Indiana) to receive grant funding from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for further study (step one of a three-step process to completion). It's still unclear how many projects from this initial 69 the FRA will grant federal funding for engineering (step two) and construction (step three).

Last month, the Northern Indiana Passenger Rail Association (NIPRA) held its annual meeting at the Baker Street Train Station and discussed next steps to secure $500K in federal funding for the study. "There will be much to do in 2024 to prepare this study and move to the next phase of development,” says Betsy Kachmar, NIPRA secretary.

Here's what we know:

  • Funding the project will require collaboration with state legislators. City Councilman Geoff Paddock recently spoke with Indiana legislators, reminding them: “If we are selected, we could receive 80% federal funding from the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act of 2021, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. ... but the states involved would need to work together on a 20% match for the federal funds. This could be from a combination of state, local and private funds."
  • INDOT will also play a key role in making the project a reality – but they need staff and funding. Paddock called the need to increase staff at INDOT within the next year "urgent." The current focus and staffing at INDOT's Indianapolis-based office is directed to other rail projects between Indy, Chicago and Louisville.
  • NIPRA's finances are part of the equation, too – and Steel Dynamics (SDI) is a big supporter. NIPRA ended the 2023 year "quite well" with assets totaling $132,195. As one of Fort Wayne’s largest employers, SDI contributes $5,000 per quarter to the group’s efforts. "NIPRA will continue to network with Indiana officials and corridor partners to prepare the way for money needed to support design, construction and operations," Kachmar says.
  • So far, the City has submitted a draft contract to the FRA for the grant money. "When that’s executed, (the city) will send out an RFP for consulting assistance to do the feasibility study," Kachmar says.

  • Donate: clean and empty milk jugs to a new Buddy Bench at Citizens Square to honor Mayor Tom Henry, in light of his recent stomach cancer announcement. (He begins chemo this week.) Drop off at Biggby Coffee in Georgetown Square through March 23.
  • Enjoy: the warmer weather this week by visiting Zesto on St. Joe Center Road, the first location to open this spring.
  • Stop by: the Urban League's open house March 13, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., to view more than 300 community responses to its Race Card Project.

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!

-Your Editor, Kara Hackett