Nostalgia served up at Hall’s Drive-In
Donut Experiment coming to town
There aren’t many places that define Fort Wayne like the Hall’s Family of Restaurants. They’ve been around only since the 1940s. It was, and is, consistent.
As national chains and more prominent local eateries have come and gone, Hall’s restaurants have been as steady as the tortoise in the fabled race with the hare.
They are blue-collar, meat-and-potato meals. You know what you’re going to get, and its genius in its simplicity. They’ve also excelled at their specialty restaurants, The Factory and Takaoka of Japan.
Last week, I visited an old friend I haven’t visited since the pandemic. That friend? Hall’s Hollywood Drive-In at the corner of Coliseum Boulevard and Lima Road.
While my daughter was at a school skating event at Roller Dome North, I needed to kill an hour, and there was Hall’s calling next door. I willingly answered and pulled up.
Tucked away on the east side of the building is the drive-in. There’s daily specials printed in a monthly calendar format, just like it was when I ate there as a kid. The only thing different is this crazy thing called a QR code that I scanned from my phone. The QR code, which I’m not a huge fan of generally speaking, is the modern day equivalent of the Dick Tracy Decoder Ring: Typically it comes off as a way to be cool, but really adds another hoop to leap through for the customer.
Guess what, though? In this case, it was a perfect execution of the technology.
I placed my order and clicked my headlights on, probably the way my parents did in the 1950s. The server came. A few minutes later, they clipped the tray to the car door. Like so many times before, the food came. I still was as transfixed as I was years ago
Again, no splash. No flash. The sizzle came in the Big Buster, the same as I’ve gotten at least a billion times, a triple-decker cheeseburger with lettuce and special sauce.
I ate quietly, enjoying the simple, dumb pleasure of a drive-in dinner behind the wheel. When I was done I flipped the lights again to signal the server to return.
Moments later, I hustled over to the rink and waited for my daughter, proud of myself as I explained that I went old school. She looked at me like I was an alien with three heads and said, “Why don’t you just go to the drive thru?”
“Tradition,” I said. “You’ll have yours, too.”
I saw her roll her eyes from the corner of my eye.
New way to experience doughnuts coming
The Donut Experiment is a launch in Fort Wayne.
With a few franchise stores in Florida and Chicago, the local store is setting up at 10124 Auburn Park Drive, just south of the Auburn and Dupont roads intersection across from Dupont Hospital.
Operating from a service bar, each doughnut is customizable with icing, toppings, and drizzle. Signage says they’ll be open 7 a.m.-1 p.m.
The company website boasts of “Special Donuts” consisting of key lime and Sriracha specialties. To pique your curiosity, they tease concoctions that change daily.
And they cater. Let’s say you are an editor of a local entertainment newspaper. Here’s a way for you to say thanks for your writers and columnists. Just a suggestion.
Local, local, local
For about six or seven years, the Northeast Indiana Local Food Network has been putting some meat in shops’ local philosophy.
They’ve also beefed up promotion of produce, honey, farmers markets, microbreweries, orchards, and restaurants. If you want to dig deeper into fork to farm, producers and businesses are anchored in locally sourced products in the 11 counties surrounding Fort Wayne.
Visit their website, www.neifood.org, for guides to shop, eat, and drink local.
Roanoke is rolling in ice cream
Another fun destination for downtown Roanoke is Jebi’s Ice Cream, 235 Main St.
The shop has 32 flavors of premium ice cream available in regular cones, waffle cones, and bowls. Of course, there are shakes and sundaes.
If you really want to enjoy your dessert, plop on the porch swing and just savor it.
It’s open 2-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 1-9 p.m. Friday-Sunday.