Things are about to come Full Circle at Acme
YLNI Farmers Market, Friendly Fox, Dunkin' Donuts also making news
A little TLC, a freshening up, and a lot of energy and enthusiasm have the Acme Bar and Grill on East State back on its feet, with a goal of opening this month.
In 2021, the legendary north-side eatery was closed. Now, after months of 12-hour days, the ol’ girl is ready to dance and looks to steal the show.
I spent time last week visiting the joint and talking with two of the owners, Tim Longardner and Lance Welker, about their plans.
I’ve gone to the Acme for years. I know it pretty well, or thought I did. I recall a joint that was utilitarian red. Not dumpy, just tired. Even so, it wasn’t the interior that kept you coming back.
I had to experience it for myself.
When I walked into the revamped restaurant, the contrast was clear. This Acme by Full Circle exceeded my expectations. You can’t help but notice the art deco trim in the dining room, and the framed posters area depicting eight of Fort Wayne’s classic vistas like the Lakeside Rose Garden and Promenade Park.
That same style of branding is over the bar. The flooring has been replaced. The old package store area has been repurposed, giving it the look of a sleek private party area easily set off by very cool barn doors.
The huge baseball stadium mural inside is gone, replaced by and even larger version of Parkview Field on the west exterior wall by Kyle Snodgrass. Snodgrass will also be painting a mural inside and restoring the sign over the front door.
The jukebox has been replaced with a smaller, sleeker unit. The floor and ceilings were enhanced, all while keeping a lot of the original furnishings.
Welker and Longardner live in the neighborhood and were personally impacted when it closed. It was an emotional blow and the loss of a local destination point. When they started to hear a buzz of comments, they decided to dive in.
“If you don’t take chances, you never know,” Welker said. “If you succeed, that’s awesome. If you fail, that sucks. But what do you do if you fail? You start over.”
It didn’t take much for Longardner to get involved since the idea had already been brewing in his head.
“The last night I was ever in here, I actually said that I was going to own this place,” Longardner said. “You could see where it was heading” due to the little things happening to the menu and other tell-tale signs.
Since announcing their plans, they’ve received an earful of encouragement from former patrons.
“This is a landmark that needs to be reopened,” Welker said. “I mean, it was the place to go with great food and we hope the neighborhood will support it again.”
Longardner and his team approach the resurgence of the Acme with reverence and respect.
“This is like (Fort Wayne’s Famous) Coney Island,” he said. “This is Fort Wayne. You can’t change the name.”
The Full Circle in the revamped name is a connection to the food truck they’ve operated and the food they had been at 2 Toms Brewery on Wells Street.
That same pizza and barbecue will continue when Acme opens. They’ll expand into appetizers and offer many of the Acme classics.
“We are going to kind of upgrade the food a little bit and do some other appetizers,” Longardner said. “We’ll have a tenderloin. They’ve always had tenderloin. It’s Indiana, you have to have a tenderloin. I’m not going to say it’s going to be the Acme tenderloin, but we’re going to have a tenderloin that should be as good if not better, hopefully, than the original.”
Their recipe for success is simple: service and food. They are considering live music and other outdoor events just west of State and Crescent Avenue.
The YLNI Farmers Market has drawn high praise as Indiana’s best-rated farmers market, according to a survey by the American Farmland Trust and the Farmers Market Coalitions.
More than 100 vendors peddle their goods at the Barr Street gathering every Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
It continues through the end of the month at the intersection of Barr and Berry streets, and will be offering free hayrides thanks to Hops Harvester.
Dunkin’ doing it
Looks like Fort Wayne is a doughnut mecca.
Dunkin’ Donuts is adding a location at Georgetown North, adjacent to Wrigley Field Bar & Grill on East State Boulevard and across from Georgetown Square. The building is up with some signage, so it shouldn’t be much longer for the treats.
That makes five Dunkin’ stores in Fort Wayne, joining spots on Dupont Road, Village of Canterbury on St. Joe Road, North Coldwater Road, Lima Road, and West Jefferson. There’s also an in-store kiosk at Flying J travel plaza on South Doyle Road off U.S. 30 east of New Haven.
The Friendly Fox, 4001 S. Wayne St., is now open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.
There are also new menu items and new drinks.