Living in the Midwest, I would only hear of Fort Wayne, Indiana as a place not too far off from my hometown of Chicago, but had never traveled there before. It was only until my visit this spring that I realized what I’d been missing all this time.
Fort Wayne is a great, All-American city. Not too big, and not too small, but just right for those seeking a place with a metropolitan area that is large enough to have fortified businesses, nice amenities, great attractions, phenomenal dining and pep in its pace, but small enough to feel part of a community.
It is apparent that Fort Wayne cultivates and promotes its own talent, as it should, which makes it an even more endearing place to visit or live. The following businesses are growing and thriving in Fort Wayne and beyond–boosting the city’s economic base and good reputation.
Vera Bradley Designs, Inc., based in Fort Wayne, is best known for lovely brightly-colored and patterned cotton-quilted products, including handbags, luggage, and accessories. The company is a force in its industry with over 3,000 independent retailers worldwide. A treat for Vera Bradley fans is the company’s major outlet sale in Fort Wayne each spring where thousands of items are shipped to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum and placed on display at deep discounts. The next event is scheduled to take place next April 9 – 13, 2014. http://www.verabradley.com/
Satisfy, no, knock the socks off your sweet tooth with a visit to DeBrand Fine Chocolates. The company was founded by Cathy Brand-Beere, a Fort Wayne native with a passion for the confectionery arts that stems from childhood. As if the outstanding confections, beautiful packaging, and luxury boutique stores weren’t enough of a draw, they have tours and tastings. Your taste buds will thank you! The company employs nearly 100 people with three shops in Fort Wayne and ships chocolates all over the world. http://www.debrand.com/
Eddie Merlot’s prime aged beef and seafood restaurant chain has the following mission: “Eddie Merlot’s is a place where hospitality and the comfort of our guests are our highest mission; we pledge to provide the finest personal service, highest quality of foods, freshest ingredients, in world class facilities for all of our guests to enjoy a memorable experience.” Boy, do they live up to their mission… Their upscale restaurants feature remarkable ambiance, service, food and wine. The experience will have you floating on Cloud 9, except, the food is so delicious and decadent that you won’t make it off the ground. Bill Humphries, Eddie Merlot’s founder, is native to Fort Wayne. http://www.eddiemerlots.com/
Cinda b’s handbags, totes, accessories… Cinda Boomershine launched the cinda b brand in 2004. She has since teamed up with one of the most experienced, well-known handbag sewing companies in the country to make bold and unique handbags, totes and accessories in “modern prints with casual chic functionality.” All cinda b products are made in Fort Wayne and are constructed of durable, water-resistant and machine-washable fabrics. More beautiful than its cosmopolitan bags is the fact that cinda b’s is All-American in its production. Way to go, cinda b’s. http://www.cindab.com/
Landmarks, Heritage and History
Upon entering the downtown business district, visitors and residents are greeted by the finely designed Martin L. King, Jr. Memorial Bridge. An even greater treat is at sundown when the bridge illuminates the city in vivid colors. Just beyond the MLK Memorial Bridge is Headwaters Park where area residents come together to enjoy festivals, concerts, and other special events. In the summer, the fountain is open for refreshment from the heat. In the winter, there is an ice arena for all to enjoy.
Said to be one of the best, if not the best genealogical resource libraries in the country, the Genealogy Center at Allen County Public Library is based in downtown Fort Wayne.
They have one of the largest research collections available, incorporating records from around the world. Their staff specializes in genealogy and is accessible for assistance to visitors. http://www.genealogycenter.org/Home.aspx
Like the interior of a fine jewelry box, the Historic Embassy Theater in Fort Wayne is ornate and intimate. With an intriguing history of the property dating back to 1928, the theater has been a movie palace and entertainment venue. Once positioned in the center of a majestic hotel, the Historic Embassy Theater has withstood the test of time when similar theaters crumbled or were demolished under the same wear. It is truly a masterpiece with a history and guest list that reads like that of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Seated on the National Register of Historic Places, this Grand Dame continuously undergoes restoration by investors, staff and volunteers, and currently operates as an entertainment and special events venue. http://www.fwembassytheatre.org/home.htm
Upcoming….The best of business and play in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Part II, featuring Museums, Attractions, and Great Eats.
Visit Fort Wayne Center
927 South Harrison Street
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802
Local (260) 424-3700 or Toll-free (800) 767-7752
Many thanks to the Visit Fort Wayne CVB team, Kristen Guthrie, Director of Marketing for Visit Fort Wayne, and the fine establishments featured in this article.