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The Dish

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Shop shifts focus (and name) to cupcakes

When Vanilla Bean's Biscotti & Pastry Boutique (3410 N. Anthony Blvd.; 415-4652) first opened July 6, 2010, it had every intention of being Fort Wayne's go-to spot for delicious biscotti and cookies.

For an opening day special, co-owner Debbie Smith created a pink strawberry lemonade cupcake.

When people kept asking for the cupcake, the shop decided to make the cupcake a week-long special.

"But people kept asking us for more cupcakes," co-owner Sandra Wharton says. "So we then began creating more cupcakes. Well, 30 cupcakes later, we're still making cupcakes."

And now, the name reflects the bakery's specialty. The shop has legally been Vanilla Bean Unique Cookies & Cupcakes for a month or two, and the store changed its sign on Friday.

Vanilla Bean doesn't even carry biscotti in the store anymore, though it will make special orders of a dozen or more – for now. Eventually, Wharton says, the bakery will phase out its biscotti all together and put all of its focus on cookies and the treat that made them famous: Vanilla Bean was featured on Food Network's "Cupcake Wars" in March.

"I think what a lot of people don't know, when you think about it, July 6 (2010) we opened our doors to do cookies and biscotti," Wharton says. "Our first contact with 'Cupcake Wars' was February 2011. You're not even (open a year) in a business we weren't originally planning on being in, and by that fall, a year and a half later, we're on national TV for cupcakes."

Vanilla Bean also announced this week that it offers free delivery to downtown Fort Wayne between the hours of 7:30 and 10 a.m., before the store opens. It has offered this service for a few months now; it only just started to advertise the service. The delivery is for the area between West Superior, Clay and Brackenridge streets and Broadway.

New ownership

Minnie's Diner (6433 Bluffton Road) reopened last week under new ownership. Customers will find a revamped interior and new menu.

Owners Mike and Karen Spillers removed the old carpet and took down the wall décor, Karen Spillers says. They also condensed the menu, changing up the size of the hamburgers, adding sliders and revamping the breakfast lineup. The new offerings provide different combinations of eggs, bacon and other breakfast staples. The breakfast menu also includes grits.

In the week or so Minnie's has been open, Karen Spillers says, the customer favorite has been the diner's Biscuits and Gravy Baby, which is a traditional biscuits and gravy loaded with sausage.

Free iced tea day

McAlister's Deli (1310 S. Illinois Road; 444-4930) will have its annual free tea day Thursday.

Last year, the chain's local location served more than 1,500 glasses of tea, assistant manager Matthew Tillapaugh says, and this year, the restaurant hopes break the 2,000 cups mark.

No purchase is necessary for your free 32-ounce tea, and you can choose between sweetened and unsweetened.

South American dinner

The first time BakerStreet (4820 N. Clinton St.; 484-3300) had a South American dinner, it sold out in five days.

The second such dinner will be at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 20, and tickets are on sale.

The dinner features seven courses, and each will be paired with a different wine or cocktail from South America. Just for an idea of what can be expected: Consider Course 6: Gaucho-style steak. "Fire roasted hanger steak with sauce chimi churri, roasted fingerling potatoes and a citrus pickled carrot salad, paired with Montes Twines," a Chilean wine that mixes malbec and cabernet sauvignon.

Tickets are $70 and can be purchased at BakerStreetFortWayne.com.

The Dish features restaurant news and food events and appears Wednesdays. Fax news items to 461-8893, email jyouhana@jg.net or call 461-8462. For more restaurant news, go to The Dish blog at journalgazette.net/thedish.

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