At least 54 local restaurants will spice up their menus for 12 days for Savor Fort Wayne.
Visit Fort Wayne has recruited that record number of participants for the annual midwinter celebration of the Summit City’s food experiences. Get the latest list and check out menus at SavorFortWayne.com. The food journey begins Jan. 13 and continues through Jan. 24.
Kristen Guthrie is vice president of marketing and communications for Visit Fort Wayne. She said Savor Fort Wayne was introduced “to call attention to and help celebrate the many restaurants in our community.”
It’s impossible to visit 50 restaurants in 12 days, she admits, but, “We do know a few people who try to dine out every night of the 12-day event.”
Guthrie said about 15 restaurants are participating for the first time. She said Club Soda, the Oyster Bar and several of the Don Hall’s Restaurants have participated every year.
“It’s really fun because they get an opportunity to do something special,” she said. “Everybody does a 3-course menu for a value price so people can do something new.
“This year more than ever it is also an opportunity to support these restaurants that have gone through some hard times, and people are more eager than ever to support these local entrepreneurs.”
Savor offers a diversion from a typically slow season, said Ben Hall, one of the owners of the Hall’s family of restaurants.
“You get the holidays out of the way and you’re pretty much just in plain old winter,” Hall said. “Depending on how the weather treats you it can be OK or it can be not so good at all. This is a nice way to generate a little interest in going out to eat. It’s a good deal and gets some people who might prefer to just stay in the comfort of their living room to go out to eat. It has really grown. If you look at the number of participating restaurants it has done nothing but gotten bigger over the life of the event.
“Our experience is every year we will see more people coming out for Savor, which is great.
“We’re hopeful that given the current status of the world that we’re in right now — COVID-related — that this will not slow Savor down too much compared to years past.”
“We’ve kind of settled into a Savor menu that works for us as far as production goes,” Hall said. “It’s not too far out of our normal wheelhouse. We stick to some things that we’re good at, that our customers like.”
It’s “a decent price tag and they appreciate that,” Hall said. “With any luck we’ll serve several hundred people over the course of the 12 days.”
Most of the Hall’s restaurants participate, including The Gas House, Takaoka, the Tavern at Coventry and The Factory.
2 Toms Brewing will offer its menu of ribs, sandwiches and wraps and more for Savor, with a few special options still in progress. Most might pair well with All 2 Together, an IPA first offered as a hospitality industry fundraiser early in the pandemic. Kaylie Snodgrass, who handles social media, photography, design and more for the Wells Street restaurant, said the brew was first released last April. “A lot of brewers hopped on board and did the brew in their own way and did their own art on the can and they decided they wanted to donate,” she said. “It was a worldwide collaboration to benefit the struggling service industries.” At 2 Toms, the effort raised about $2,500 for local breweries and bars.
She said 2 Toms owner Tom Carpenter decided to brew another batch with a bigger goal. “He stepped up and brewed a second time and he’s hoping to raise about $5,000 this time for local businesses,” she said.
At 6.5% alcohol, it’s described as “a crazy blend of eight hops.”
Much of the batch was spoken for in advance, but some is still available in the taproom. “As long as it lasts on tap we’ll have it during Savor Fort Wayne as a choice to drink,” she said. At the moment, there are 17 draft options.
Like most in the industry, Snodgrass has friends who have seen their hours cut during the pandemic. “Of course we have our own struggles but I think 2 Toms has done a really good job of adapting to the situation,” she said. “We’ve actually been busier than ever. We would usually brew two to four beers a month before, and now we’re doing two or three a week, releasing new beers for our customers.
“When it first started we transitioned to carryout quickly, moved around some roles in the taproom, and just kept going.”
And of course 2 Toms will offer its Full Circle BBQ carryout.
Guthrie, with Visit Fort Wayne, said that organization contacted all the local restaurants to invite them to participate. “Anyone is welcome and just yesterday we had a few more decide to join,” she said Jan. 8. Check the final list online, she said.
“We encourage people to look and go through the menus and plan,” she said.
Any summary of the meal options would be incomplete, but a quick scan of the menus shows a Savor Fort Wayne representative of the city’s dining diversity.
Besides upscale options, some more affordable restaurants are participating. Utopian Coffee offers a three-part meal for $8. “What a nice treat,” Guthrie said.
Diners also can enter for a chance to win more than $500 in restaurant gift cards.
Carry-out options are indicated online, and restaurants can call attention to outdoor dining options if the weather permits. “So they are offering different ways for people to enjoy safely,” she said.
Savor Fort Wayne asked restaurant to submit their online menus by Dec. 16, but no one is guarding that door. “I hope we can help you — our restaurant community — in a small way,” Emily Stuck, of Visit Fort Wayne, said in that invitation. “Thank you for participating in this community event that celebrates restaurants like yours!”