We hope you've enjoyed our weekly email newsletter this year. Here's a look back at our top 10 most-read stories.
#1 & 2
Johnny and Esli Perez's ever-expanding family of businesses under Te Gustó Hospitality claimed the top two spots in our most-read list (and our hearts). We've loved seeing Mercado and Papi's Pizza develop loyal followings around amazing eats (and dance parties) on The Landing. And we can't wait to see what this husband-and-wife team brings to West Main in 2024 with Spoke & Ivy and the mysterious Black Rabbit Bar. They're doing great work to diversify and build up Fort Wayne's food scene, and they're creating some fun, informative content for other culinary entrepreneurs along the way, too. Check out their "Behind the Line" podcast to see what we mean!
Be Better Hospitality was one of our first stories as "The Local," and we're honored this crew took a chance on letting us tell the story of what they're up to, bringing more nightlife options to Fort Wayne. Trevor Scovel's journey from fledgling Fort Wayne bartender to world-class champion blew us away, and Penny Drip has become a fast favorite, not only for its impeccable ice cubes and coffee-to-cocktails menu, but also for its welcoming and interesting late-night events. As our city grows, we need more things to do after 9 p.m., and we're excited to see what this crew brings to The Landing in 2024!
Bravas has been a behind-the-scenes supporter of The Local from Day One. When we were launching this publication, we reached out to Bo Gonzalez, not only to find out when he was reopening his Fort Wayne Famous burger joint, but also to get his advice on cultivating a community of people who care deeply about our city. He graciously sat down with us for a meeting (and an interview). Since then, we've loved seeing how Bravas has pivoted to a Spanish tapas menu, drawing from Bo and Becky's family roots, and we're still here for all their specialty burgers, too! Seeing them do what they love inspires us to stay true to what sets our souls on fire.
If you don't know Sean Richardson, it might be easy to feel intimidated by him. Not only is he one of the best-known chefs in town, but also his super-exclusive popup events called "Rune" (after his son) are Instagram magic and sellout quickly (before we could get tickets). But once you meet Sean, you'll probably be surprised by how easy he is to talk with and how willing you are to try a dish like beef tongue – as long as he's cooking it. Hats off to the chef, and we're glad Rune is coming to our neighborhood in 2024 at the old Trubble Brewing spot on Broadway!
Zamira and Carlos Fernando Rodriguez Lopez have a beautiful, powerful story to share about their home country of Nicaragua, and they're doing it Fort Wayne through some incredible food. Their venture, El Gallo Pinto, might be our favorite startup this year. (Order the gallo pinto, maduro and shredded beef, and you'll see why!) Their venture inside CookSpring Shared Kitchen is on a brief hiatus for the holidays, but watch their social media for updates about their reopening in 2024. These two are amazing, and they're just getting started!
GK Cafe & Provisions is another one of our first (and favorite) stories this year. We had so much fun visiting with Grace and Katie Jo at their grand opening, and they've been huge supporters of our newsletter, too! Grace's pastries, ice cream and bread are outstanding. Every time we host visitors, we take them to get her sinfully good Cinny Rolls, and they're always blown away. We also love remote working (and people watching) here next to the windows, so if you stop by, you might see our newsletter in the making. Some of our favorite BBQ sauce was purchased from their market, too!
This story was inspired by a reader's question, and we had a great time digging up the answer that's been hanging ever since a 2018 article by Kevin Leininger in the News-Sentinel (RIP – to the Sentinel; not Kevin). The thing is: Fort Wayne used to be home to two healthy newspapers. Now we have one that's struggling to survive – and that's the story, not just in our city, but across the U.S. As local newspapers face budget cuts and challenging ad revenues, there are fewer reporters, like Mr. Leininger, left to track down stories readers want to know, like: What's happening with the Urban Trail? We were glad we could step in here and get the answer, especially since it clues readers into deeper conversations about Fort Wayne's transportation challenges and opportunities.
Cameron Brooks is a homegrown talent in Fort Wayne in more ways than one. Along with taking over his family's BBQ joint (Brooks BBQ), and bringing it into the new age at Union Street Market, he's also a talented singer. In fact, he made it all the way to "American Idol," where he convinced the show's all-star cast (including vegetarian Ryan Seacrest) to try his famous ribs, and they loved them. Their response inspired Brooks to reclaim his family roots and use his cooking skills not only to fund his singing career, but also to build a legacy for himself and his wife, paying homage to his grandmother's time-tested recipes. Beyond all this, Cameron is fun to talk with, and he's plugged into everything that's making Fort Wayne cool right now – with friends in the local music, comedy and DJ scenes. Say hello next time you're at the market!
Electric Works has been a huge (and sometimes controversial) story to cover – from its conception to its current growth. Development projects of any size can be challenging, and when they are this massive and potentially transformative for a city, they're layered with benefits, drawbacks and special concerns. One of these concerns is housing — how to preserve it and provide it. Kevan Biggs, President and Owner of Biggs Group, is one of the key people on the EW team trying to figure out this puzzle, and he spoke with us candidly about the challenge of doing housing in a sustainable, value-adding way for cities, developers and residents alike. Spoiler alert: the answers aren't easy in our current housing system. But there are some interesting tactics, like artist housing and workforce housing, we explore in this story and hope to cover more in 2024.
This year, I (Kara) have enjoyed following transportation stories in Fort Wayne, from Citilink's plans and Indy's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and progress with passenger rail. Multimodal transportation is a huge need in Fort Wayne. There are so many things to love about our community, but one thing I'd like to change is how car-dependent we are. Fort Wayne is built with the expectation that everyone can and should have a car to get around. But that's not the reality – or even the best option. And if we were able to take some focus away from roads, highways and, yes, even precious parking, we could redirect that funding and attention to multimodal transportation, which would be a gamechanger in so many ways: improving our social connectedness, accessibility, physical health, mental wellbeing and environmental friendliness – just to name a few. Looking ahead to 2024: I hope local leaders take note that multimodal transportation matters deeply to Fort Wayne's future and just might be the most revolutionary thing they could support for our city.