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The Dish

  • Updates continue on Lima
    If you drive along Lima Road, it's hard to miss the changes to the restaurant scene.
  • Updates continue on Lima
    If you drive along Lima Road, it’s hard to miss the changes to the restaurant scene.As I wrote in a March column, LongHorn Steakhouse is opening a restaurant at 5050 Value Drive in front of Costco.
  • Vanilla Bean shifting to orders only
    In most cases, closing up shop is bad times.  But for Sandra Wharton and Debbie Smith, the move from retail to production is a good thing for their business, Vanilla Bean Unique
If you go
Downtown Grind, 200 Pearl St., 267-9762
Chrome Plated Diner, 3434 N. Anthony Blvd., 387-7692
Ali Baba’s Grille, 10812 Coldwater Road, 619-2001

Downtown coffee house offers sandwiches, soup in former yoga studio

Downtown Grind coffee house opened Monday (much to the happiness of this Fort Wayne Newspapers employee, who can happily walk there from work in good weather), with a grand opening March 16. In addition to coffee drinks and chai, Downtown Grind will have small breakfast and lunch items, including hot ham and cheese sandwiches, barbecue pulled chicken and soups – the owner’s grandmother’s recipes.

The shop is in the former Pranayoga space, which has been refurbished to include a counter. The décor is warm and homey, and owner Alana DeLong hopes it becomes a downtown staple, joining in the Downtown Improvement District’s new Last Saturday events and hosting monthly euchre tournaments.

Downtown Grind even has a small, separate room that DeLong hopes will be used for meetings or conferences. Though the shop is closed on Sundays, she plans to offer the space up for small parties, such as baby or bridal showers.

Other openings

•The Chrome Plated Diner on North Anthony Boulevard had its soft opening Friday with an official opening at 7 a.m. Saturday. The diner primarily serves breakfast and lunch items, though it is open Thursday and Friday nights with all-you-can-eat fish, owner Torey Smith says.

Smith has grown up in the restaurant business, and his grandfather and mother had their own restaurants.

•Ali Babba’s Grille opened this month on Coldwater Road where the former Maza Grille was located. Owner Anan Abour worked for Maza Grille and now owns Ali Babba’s with his wife, Rula Anas.

Everything on the menu is made in house – except for the baklava, which is brought in from Detroit, Anas says – including the hummus and veggie grape leaves, which I grew up calling “dolma.” I’ve definitely been something of an outcast on the Assyrian side of my family because I do not like dolma. My family makes it from scratch but I loathe dill, a major component in dolma.

Not so in the Ali Babba’s veggie grape leaves. Instead of dill, the dish includes mint and parsley. My family will be happy to know I finally like dolma.

Sort of.