Staci Voelck has worked in and been around restaurants for years, and it had always been a dream to own her own space.
She just didn't think it would be a barbecue restaurant.
But, according to her husband, Jason Voelck, Staci has taken the idea and run with it.
The couple are now the sole owners-operators of Smokehaus Barbecue in New Haven. The restaurant, along with a sister food truck, opened as Big Rick's Smokehaus early this year with a different pit master. Jason was involved in that venture.
The restaurant, at 717 Broadway St., south of Lincoln Highway, is in the former home of Carousel Ice Cream.
The couple has remodeled the space – and the menu – to create the feeling that you are enjoying barbecue with family.
Offerings include smoked favorites such as ribs, pulled pork and chicken wings; homemade sides such as macaroni and cheese, baked beans and potato salads; and desserts, including pie and cookies.
There's also a Smokehaus potato – a baked potato with pulled pork, barbecue sauce, cheese and sour cream.
A kids menu includes chicken fingers and hot dogs, as well as some barbecue options.
“New Haven needs a family restaurant where you can take your kids that's not fast food, not pizza,” Jason says.
The Voelcks are also hoping to expand the restaurant's offerings to include beer and wine, with a liquor license hearing scheduled for this month.
Jason, who has been in New Haven for about a dozen years, says he wanted to offer something to the community that has served him well.
“I love this city, and I love to bring people to it,” he says.
For more than five years, Krystal Vega has been baking cakes, cookies and breads at her East State Boulevard shop.
But soon, Zinnia's Bakehouse will be packing up and moving downtown.
Vega, who bought the bakery with her family in 2013, will take over a space in Cottage Flowers on East Wayne Street.
She expects to open the new storefront in mid- to late January.
“It's something we just decided in the last couple months,” Vega says. “We're ready for a fresh start, fresh change.”
So when the lease came up on the East State Boulevard shop, she decided to take the opportunity to move downtown.
Vega says that she's always loved downtown and enjoyed operating the small shop inside City Exchange, which she had for about a year and a half.
The new location will still have much of what customers have come to enjoy – cupcakes, cookies, empanadas and even beignets.
However, with more limited display space, there might be fewer flavors on a given day but more variety day to day.
With more foot traffic, she says, it means that someone can stop by and enjoy a different cupcake flavor than the day before.
The last day of business at East State will be Monday, and Vega is expanding the hours until 5 p.m. because of holiday orders.
The downtown McDonald's location will have a grand re-opening celebration today.
The restaurant has been remodeled, including a change to the facade. There are also new self-order kiosks and orders will be delivered to the tables. The event, which begins at 11 a.m., will feature a ribbon-cutting, donation to the Rescue Mission and giveaways.
Chocolate lovers, prepare your taste buds. Tickets are now on sale for the fifth annual Fort Wayne ChocolateFest.
The John Chapman Kiwanis Foundation will host the event, which will be 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Orchid Event Center, 11508 Lincoln Highway E. in New Haven.
The evening includes three chocolate dipping stations (dark, milk and white chocolate) with other chocolate desserts, a full dinner, live entertainment from the Farmland Jazz Band, cash bar, and this year, they will have a “build your own” ice cream sundae bar.
A silent auction will be held in conjunction with the event.
All of the money raised at the event will go to Riley Hospital for Children and other area charities and projects.
Tickets are $40 each, and VIP tables for eight are $500. Call 749-4901 or search for the event at EventBrite.com.
Local liqueur expands
Two local entrepreneurs set out to heat up the adult beverage scene with a new liqueur.
And now, Café Rumba will be added to more than 220 Meijer stores in the Midwest in 2019.
Ted Kucinsky, owner of Catalyst Marketing Design, and Troy Woodrow partnered together to create Beach House Beverages, which is based in Fort Wayne.
Cafe Rumba is a ready-to-drink liqueur that is made with Kona coffee from Hawaii, cream and five-times distilled Caribbean rum. It can also be mixed, with recipes found at DotheRumba.com.
In Indiana, Café Rumba is carried at stores such as Belmont Beverage, Cap n' Cork and S&V Liquors.
The Dish features restaurant news and food events and appears Wednesdays. Fax news items to 461-8893, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 461-8304.