Ohio pizza chain coming to Jefferson Pointe

An Ohio-based pizza chain announced its plans to open a restaurant at Jefferson Pointe.

The Fort Wayne location of Beer Barrel Pizza & Grill is expected to open in late summer, occupying an end-cap space at the outdoor mall. The location will be near the movie theater in the former Rosati's.

Interior demolition has already begun on the restaurant, which will have a 350-seat dining room, a carryout/pickup area and a full bar. There will also be a fresh build-out and covered patio. Signage will be up in the next week or so.

Beer Barrel offers a large menu of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, entrées and its signature three styles of made-from-scratch pizza including thin and crispy, deep dish and original.

The first Beer Barrel restaurant opened in 1965 in Lima, Ohio. In 2005, the original location was acquired by restaurateur John Heaphy and his wife, Aimee.

There are nine Beer Barrel Pizza & Grill locations in Ohio, including St. Mary's, Findlay, Toledo and Columbus.

“We are very humbled and excited to introduce Beer Barrel to Fort Wayne,” Heaphy says in a news release. “Being only an hour away, for years we've had many people ask us to bring Beer Barrel to Fort Wayne. When we were approached by Red Development to join their community at Jefferson Pointe, it just seemed like a natural fit.”

The original hope was to open in Fort Wayne last summer but the project was put on pause because of the pandemic.

Outdoor dining

This past weekend, Fort Wayne had a taste of what is to come. The temperature soared into the 60s, taking us from the doldrums of winter to a lively spring.

And it seemed like the entire city was out as my family ran errands, rode scooters at the park and made time for ice cream. Well, let's be honest. I always make time for ice cream.

But the promise of spring also opened up the possibility of dining outdoors. Patio dining is not only a popular way to spend a summer day but it's considered to be a safer option as we still navigate our way through the global pandemic.

Patio heaters and fire pits have helped extend the outdoor dining season for some restaurants. Crescendo Coffee and More, 1806 Bluffton Road, has a fire pit to keep people warm. A grant from the Downtown Improvement District made it possible for places like Proximo and Hoppy Gnome to have guests sit outside.

Hop River Brewing Co., 1515 N. Harrison St., has made the most of its outdoor patio in the winter months. A fire pit helps keep the temperature comfortable for customers. Reservations are strongly recommended as the weather improves. Go to HopRiverBrewing.com.

Creative solutions like the igloos at Three Rivers Distilling Co. and bubbles at Trubble Brewing have offered a year-round outdoor dining option – vital during this challenging time.

At Three Rivers Distilling, there are six igloos that allow for a socially distant dining experience. The plan is to keep them up until May. You must make a reservation to dine in an igloo, and there is a spend minimum. (The amount varies depending on the evening.)

“The reason why the igloos saved us is because we literally just stopped getting rentals and that was a big part of our restaurant revenue. We have a space we used for rehearsals, receptions, corporate events, etc. and we just stopped getting them,” retail coordinator Alison Million says, adding that sales in the coldest months tripled in large part because of the igloos.

But there were challenges. At Trubble, the original clear bubbles deteriorated after about a month. The Broadway establishment replaced them with outdoor tents that allowed for increased seating. (The original bubbles had room for six; the tents have space for up to eight.)

At Three Rivers Distilling, the weather was the major challenge – from dipping temperatures to heavy precipitation.

Each igloo has its own heater but the colder winter got, the more heat was needed to keep the igloos warm. Initially, a small heater was swapped for a bigger one.

“Then it got down into the teens and we needed to double heat the igloos,” Million says. It wasn't as easy as adding a second heater because two heaters drew too much power and strained the breakers.

The rain posed a challenge, too. While each igloo has a base and it offered some protection, some water could still get in.

“Two weeks after we got the igloos set up we got a crazy monsoon-like rain,” Million says. “Four of the igloos were fairly dry, just a little damp. Two of them needed towels to soak up all the water that the rug had collected.”

And while the temperature will (hopefully) continue to warm, Three Rivers Distilling plans to keep the igloos up for a while.

“Moving the igloos will be a giant project and with Indiana's unpredictable climate along with the rainy season coming up, we plan to keep the igloos up until May 3,” Million says. “Our dining room only has 10 tables, so we plan to utilize the patio as long as possible.”

St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is typically a day (or weekend) of gregarious gatherings and green beer. But 2021's festivities will likely be a bit tamer this year.

Henry's, 536 W. Main St., will open at 11 a.m. for St. Patrick's Day. The downtown spot will offer its popular corned beef and cabbage platter for $13.95 and a bowl of lamb stew for $6.95.

O'Sullivan's, 1808 W. Main St., will be open regular hours – 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. – with socially distanced seating and adhering to the mask policy but will have no St. Patrick's Day celebration.

Logan's Roadhouse will have green beer from March 17 to 21, as well as offer to-go party packs. The packs, which serve 10 to 12, include options like loaded potato skins and Logan's rolls.

Around town

The Stand Coneys and Ice Cream, 5200 Bluffton Road, has opened for the season. New for 2021 is a vegetarian-friendly menu, featuring a veggie dog and vegan soft-serve. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

The 07 Pub, 3516 Broadway, is reopening today only for carryout from 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday.

Online ordering is encouraged at 07Pub.com. The restaurant said in an Instagram post Tuesday that the goal is to open for restaurant seating soon. Look for more information in a future column.

Bravas will host a pop-up style event this weekend. Order pickup will be available from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, with the ordering window opening at noon. The menu will be limited, featuring favorites from the hot dog cart. Go to BravasFood.com for information.

The Club Room at the Clyde, 1806 Bluffton Road, has a new special available Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The slow-roasted prime rib features a Utopian Coffee rub and is finished with house au jus. The dinner, which costs $28, is served with horseradish sauce, garlic butter and choice of one side.

Easter happenings

Are you planning Easter brunch or dinner specials?

The Dish is compiling a list of dining and take-away options for Easter. If your restaurant will be open or offering a special menu, please share the details. Email kdupps@jg.net.

The deadline is March 19.

The Dish features restaurant news and food events and appears Wednesdays. Fax news items to 461-8893, email kdupps@jg.net or call 461-8304 at least two weeks before event or desired publication.