Cheryl Toscos has been in the restaurant business for quite some time. As a restaurant designer and manager, Toscos decided to mix her love of design with her passion for food. The spawn of her talents is downtown Fort Wayne's newest eatery — Central City Cafe.
Located at 620 S. Calhoun St. between Main and Columbia streets, Central City Cafe boasts 60-item make-your-own salad and sandwich bar. Offering crisp lettuces, quality deli meats and fresh baked bread, the cafe is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. While the restaurant has been open for its soft launch over the past two weeks, the grand opening celebration is Monday.
Toscos hired two head chefs, Mike Bentz and Justin Baker, to man the kitchen and create the menu. So far, one of the most popular sandwiches is the classic Reuben for $9. The menu also features fish tacos, a Cuban sandwich and a variety of flatbreads.
Another highlight aside from the food is the decor.
Adorning was walls are Fort Wayne-themed art pieces by local artist Terry Ratliff featuring Fort Wayne's skyline and an old-time street car.
“The building was built in 1860 and it has a lot of character, but it was all hidden,” Toscos said.
She went through four months of renovation, stripping away layer upon layer of plaster on ceilings and walls. She said she wanted to embrace the building's downtown Fort Wayne history by exposing the red brick and opening the upstairs level to customers. With the upstairs addition, the cafe seats 98 people. The upstairs area is also open for reservation for meetings or events, too.
“I think that it's nostalgic to have the original look of the building," Toscos said. "The exterior obviously shows the character of the building, so I wanted the interior to match. That's one of the main reasons the building attracted me. Everybody says it has a real Chicago or New York feel.”
The cafe will also have a garage door, which can be left open thanks to a screen. Toscos said she worked hard to get the garage door addition approved, but she feels it adds a real metropolitan cafe feel.
“We really look forward to being a part of downtown," she said. "That's why the name is Central City Cafe. I just want to become an iconic part of Fort Wayne.”