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The Dish

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Salad, sandwich bar among plans for downtown café

Cheryl Toscos loves downtown Fort Wayne. She always has, she says.

The former Park Place manager and restaurant designer has had her heart set on one building in particular, though: 620 S. Calhoun St.

"Many, many years ago, I looked at this building. I looked at this restaurant to buy. Twice. Both times, there were issues," Toscos says.

"When I got the email in February that the building went for sale, along with the deli, I thought, 'Wow. Here it is. This is it.' The timing in my life is perfect. So we just pulled the trigger, and here we are."

The deli space is undergoing major renovations. Four layers of wall have been removed to expose the original brick, and a staircase that couldn't be salvaged has been taken out. Corrugated steel panels will be installed on the north wall, and bench seating suspended from the ceiling will be on the south.

As for the food, Central City Café will be a 14-foot salad bar down the middle. One side will feature, well, salad, and the other is slated to be for sandwiches.

Diners, she says, will be able to build their own sandwich – selecting everything from bread to meat to toppings – and pay by the pound.

A digital screen will offer sandwich creation suggestions. There will also be hot sandwiches, soups and flatbread pizzas.

Toscos hopes to have Central City up and running by mid-May.

Mandarin still open

The Mandarin owner Scott Whiteman wants you to forget what you've heard. The longtime Chinese restaurant at 5978 Stellhorn Road is not closing.

Thanks to support from longtime customers and others dining, Whiteman thinks the Mandarin can weather the storm.

He was first on alert when business didn't pick up around the holidays. Then, there was snowstorm after snowstorm, which "pretty much took three days out of our business" each time, he says.

The final straw was when the Fort Wayne-Allen County Board of Health temporarily closed the restaurant for pests.

"When that … story broke, that's pretty much what scared everybody," he says, adding that he "just didn't think anything was going to get better."

But things are looking up, Whiteman says, with the support and more traffic coming through the area.

The restaurant is offering a special for Lent. Get two dinners for $14.99, available for dine-in or carryout.

Around town

Ben's Soft Pretzels will have a grand opening celebration Saturday. The Jefferson Pointe location will give away a free pretzel to every person who visits between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. There will also be giveaways, and the first 100 people in line will receive a free Ben's Soft Pretzels T-shirt.

•For my fellow coffee fans (lovers … addicts), McDonald's has announced it will offer free coffee during breakfast hours for two weeks. The promotion began Monday. The company is hoping the coffee will bring in new customers and get existing customers to come in more frequently.

The Dish features restaurant news and food events and appears Wednesdays. Fax news items to 461-8893, email kdupps@jg.net or call 461-8462.

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