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The Dish


Coney Island to mark 100 years during 3RF

Any birthday deserves a celebration. But turning 100? Well, that requires a little more than cake and punch.

To mark 100 years of serving up hot dogs and coneys, iconic downtown restaurant Fort Wayne's Famous Coney Island will be celebrating during Fort Wayne's biggest party – Three Rivers Festival.

Co-owner James Todoran says the main event will be from noon to 2 p.m. July 12 in the event pavilion at Hanning & Bean Festival Plaza after the Lutheran Health Network parade.

“The Three Rivers Festival says ‘hometown.' We're very happy and proud to be a part of Fort Wayne,” Todoran says. “It just fit to be a part of the Three Rivers Festival.”

There will be hot dogs, soda, beer and a coney eating contest. Commemorative gear will be for sale.

“We're hoping to have a celebration, a birthday party atmosphere,” he says.

To participate in the coney eating contest, interested fans will need to participate in a preliminary round June 7 at Deer Park Irish Pub. There will be 10 heats of 10 people who will try to eat 10 coneys as fast as possible. The top 10 will be invited to the July 12 contest.

Awards will also be given out at the preliminary contest for best costume, messiest eater and most creative nickname.

The festivities start at 2 p.m. June 7, and tickets are available at The cost is $30, with proceeds benefiting the Jerome & Marganelle Henry Foundation For Neighborhood Health.

Sandra D’s reopens

It took four months and a lot of hard work, but Sandra D's The Italian Garden has reopened.

The restaurant at 1330 S. Main St. in Auburn had to close for repairs in January because of water damage. The winter's subfreezing temperatures and a power outage caused a pipe to burst.

“Our first day back was April 30,” co-owner Sandra Dillinger says. “We're very excited to be back and to be doing what we love to do.”

The remodeling included new ceilings, floors, restaurant equipment and lighting. “The restaurant has, I believe, a whole different look,” she says, adding that a regular customer labeled it as “swanky bistro.”

The restaurant features mostly the same menu (and breadsticks) as before, as well as daily lunch and dinner specials and a soup of the day.

“Our family, our friends, our loyal customers – it was overwhelming how everyone was there for us,” Dillinger says. “The community itself – Fort Wayne, Auburn – kept us going.”

Coyote Creek open

The shareholders of Coyote Creek Golf Club say construction on the new clubhouse is complete – and it's open for business.

The project at the 4935 Hillegas Road club included The Lodge at Coyote Creek. The new full-service bar and grill, which is open to the public, is operated by the owners of Rack & Helen's restaurant in New Haven and managed by Wes Anderson.

The menu includes appetizers, salads, sandwiches, grinders, rolls and entrées. Among the signature items are bacon-wrapped jalapeños, the pulled pork sandwich and “The Whiner” grinder, which features ham, pepperoni, bacon, mozzarella cheese, lettuce, onion and a garlic ranch sauce.

Zoo fundraiser

Tickets for the second Zoo Brew & Wine Too are now on sale.

This after-hours, adults-only fundraising event, presented by Chase Bank, will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 22 at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, preceded by a VIP event from 5 to 6 p.m..

The event will feature craft beers, wines and local food from more than 60 vendors. Tickets include unlimited sampling of foods from more than 25 restaurants and unlimited sampling of dozens of beverages, including beer, wine and hard cider. Live music by James & the Drifters, Sugar Shot, Night to Remember and Joe Justice will be featured on three stages. Zoo animals and exhibits will provide a unique backdrop for the event. Each attendee will receive a souvenir Pilsner glass.

Tickets may be purchased online at or in person at the zoo's Guest Services Building.

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