Savor Fort Wayne comes at a perfect time for restaurants and people who have spent much of their holiday-related time in restaurants.
Running from January 12-23, it comes at a perfect time for everyone, really.
For diners, it’s a chance to try a budget-priced, three-course meal at one of about 70 local eateries.
For restaurants, it’s a chance to lure in diners during the post-holiday lull.
Some restaurants are so popular that they don’t experience many lulls.
Savor Fort Wayne has its roots in an event called Devour Indianapolis, launched in 2005 by the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association, which now occurs twice a year in Naptown.
Devour Indianapolis begat Devour Bloomington (formerly known as Devour Btown), as well as Savor Fort Wayne.
No word from Visit Fort Wayne or the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association about why it’s called Savor in Fort Wayne and Devour everywhere else. Perhaps we’re slower eaters here, though I doubt it.
Here is what’s happening this year at three of the aforementioned local restaurants.
Birdie’s at the Bradley
This is Birdie’s first Savor and the rooftop restaurant and bar at The Bradley hotel has big plans.
But first some backstory: The Bradley has two restaurants, Birdie’s and Arbor.
Up to now, Arbor has only been open for breakfast and lunch. It’s been an order-at-the-counter sort of place.
“It’s not full service,” said Carmen McGee, general manager of the two restaurants. “It’s really more of a coffee bar.”
But that’s about to change.
Arbor will soon add a dinner service and become more of a traditional sit-down-and-be-served restaurant.
And Arbor’s dinner menu will be previewed as part of Birdie’s Savor menu.
Birdie’s is uniquely configured to offer a Savor menu, according to McGee.
“It’s already pretty casual,” she said. “It’s already a small bites/appetizers/shareables-type deal. So, it’s super-conducive to a Savor-type menu.”
Arbor won’t offer fine-dining so much as “finer dining,” McGee said.
“Elevated Italian dishes,” she said. “There’s three really nice steaks on the menu. Charcuterie, obviously, you have to have that now.”
The Savor menu will feature a couple of pasta dishes and chicken Parmesan.
McGee said The Bradley will fully unveil the new Arbor in mid-March.
Tolon co-owner Nicky Nolot said her chef husband, Matt, doesn’t yet know what he’s going to put on the Savor menu.
She said he usually fills Savor menus with fan favorites and perhaps one special dessert.
In the past, Tolon offered Little-Debbie-style cream pies filled with the restaurant’s signature bourbon & brown sugar ice cream.
The Nolots weren’t sure they were even going to participate in Savor this year because of some logistical issues. But Visit Fort Wayne was affectionately adamant.
Nolot said she knows there are Tolon enthusiasts who got their introduction to the restaurant during a Savor promotion.
“We’ve had people say, ‘We didn’t even know you were here!’ ” she said of the downtown restaurant.
And there are Tolon devotees who order off the Savor menu even through they are well-acquainted with the regular menu, or at least the philosophy behind the regular menu, which changes frequently.
This will be Tolon’s sixth year of Savor participation and Nolot said she is stunned by the number of restaurants that are taking part in 2022.
An explosive expansion of the downtown restaurant scene has been nothing but good for Tolon, she said.
“We’re all different enough to give people many options,” Nolot said.
As a north-side restaurant, Black Canyon is in a unique position during Savor promotions.
It can theoretically draw patrons from such nearby cities as Auburn and Angola.
Owner Jason Fabini said he has no exact, or even inexact, figures regarding who and how many might be coming to the restaurant from north of Fort Wayne.
But he said Savor is a vital promotion for any Fort Wayne restaurant.
“There’s a ton of great restaurants in Fort Wayne,” Fabini said. “It’s a chance for people who might not venture out to come and sample our food. It’s a chance for them to check something new out.
Savor Fort Wayne has been hugely successful for Black Canyon.
“We get more than you would think,” Fabini said. “We get quite a lot of (traffic from) it.”
Black Canyon newbies have turned into Black Canyon regulars thanks to Savor.
“I know, in the past, we’ve had people who said, ‘We’d never been to the restaurant before and we love it and we’ll be back,’ ” Fabini said.
The 2022 Black Canyon Savor menu will feature a salad course; a choice of steak, salmon, or ribs; and a brownie-based dessert, Fabini said.
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