3 min read

Meet the Packard Taphouse: a new woman-owned, Mid-Century lounge in Fort Wayne

“Think Mad Men.” It's going to feel like a swanky Mid-Century lounge.
Meet the Packard Taphouse: a new woman-owned, Mid-Century lounge in Fort Wayne
Co-Owners and neighborhood association leaders Melissa Kurten and Holly Munoz share plans for their new venture: the Packard Taphouse under renovation.

On Valentine's Day, owners of the Packard Taphouse hosted an open house. The new bar is under renovation at the old Billy's Dugout on Fairfield Ave. (near Bravas, Zeb's and Packard Park). The opening date is TBA, and you won't find details on social media. But we have the scoop on this project (and more) likely to enhance connections between Downtown and South side neighborhoods.

Here's what you need to know:

  • The Packard Taphouse is owned by two local women and neighborhood association leaders: Melissa Kurten and Holly Munoz. Melissa is currently President of Oakdale Neighborhood, and Holly was President of Fairfield Neighborhood (until November). They met through neighborhood meetings. "We didn't go into this wanting to be bar owners," they say. "It was more like: Billy's Dugout is a great place for the community; we want to keep it a community hub!"
  • It's going to feel like a swanky Mid-Century lounge. “Think Mad Men,” the owners say. “The bar up front is going to have wood paneling, and there will be a lounge in back with low seating. We’ve got some Adrian Pearsall furniture we’re working to get restored, too.”
  • Billy's Dugout regulars dig the new plans. Beth of Fox Ave., who has been going to Billy's (and known the family) for 20+ years, says that while the Packard will have a different layout and vibe, she's excited about it. "Billy has been in the bar business for decades and decided it was time to do something different. (Holly and Melissa) feel like part of the crowd here, and I think what they're doing is awesome."
  • They're keeping things local (and a little underground) for the time being. So you won't find them on social networks. "We’re just going to use a sandwich board out front to advertise, and see how it goes," the owners say.
  • You can BYO food to the future bar. Carry in Bravas or Zeb's. Order pizza. The taphouse will offer a stripped down bar concept with 20 beers on tap, wine and minimal snacks. They plan to host pop-ups, too.
  • The space has a cool history. The name Packard Taphouse is a nod to Packard Park next door. From 1872-1932, the site of the current park was home to the Packard Piano Company. In 1937, the City of Fort Wayne acquired the property, and turned it into a park with a softball diamond. From the 1940s-70s, the taphouse building was Harold Greiner’s "Bob Inn" Restaurant and Bakery. Greiner was a board member and manager of the Fort Wayne Daisies female softball team that played at the field nextdoor. He appeared in a 1987 PBS documentary that inspired the classic film "A League of Their Own."
  • Changes to Packard Park are also on the way. This summer, the park is scheduled to break ground on renovations, including walking paths, public art and a new event plaza for concerts, farmers markets and more.

We'll keep you posted as plans progress. Here's a quick photo tour of the space:

The former Billy's Dugout and future Packard Taphouse at 3401 Fairfield Ave.
Just inside the door, there will be a new bar and seating in the front room with a lounge in the back room.
Renderings of a wood-paneled bar with Mid-Century lighting.
Renderings of a wood-paneled bar with Mid-Century lighting.
The front room of the future Packard Taphouse.
Swag for the Packard Taphouse.
Packard Park is nextdoor to the Packard Taphouse.
Fairfield Avenue is one of a few urban corridors connecting neighborhoods to Downtown Fort Wayne.