Restaurant Notes extra: Bravas pulls out of The Landing project

The Bravas team, from left, Zach Croy, Ted Doak, Becky Gonzalez, Bo Gonzalez and Mark Crawford, stands outside Bravas Burgers in 2015 when it opened at 3412 Fairfield Ave. ( file photo)

Bravas Food, which has the Bravas Burgers restaurant at 3412 Fairfield Ave., two food trucks and a hot dog cart, announced Friday that it won’t be part of The Landing after all.

“The real problem was the time it took to develop,” Bravas founder Bo Gonzalez said.

Two years ago talks began to move the restaurant to The Landing. It was announced last year that Bravas would have a restaurant as part of the $35 million project on The Landing, a historic block on Columbia Street in downtown Fort Wayne. The Landing project, originally scheduled to start construction last fall, features a new five-story residential and commercial building.

The project is still on schedule for a first-quarter groundbreaking, said John Perlich, city spokesman. Steve Smith, CEO of The Model Group, the Cincinnati-based developer for the project, said in an email, “The project is still moving forward with a number of exciting local restaurants that we intend to start announcing in mid-February.”

Model Group has bought the property, started demolition and scheduled a tentative groundbreaking celebration for Feb. 15, Smith wrote.

Both sides wished each other well in their projects, with Smith writing of Gonzalez, “Unfortunately we were not able to meet his timeline for an expanded restaurant, but we wish him success and will definitely be stopping in for burgers during construction.”

“We kind of have bigger goals,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez started Bravas with a hot dog cart seven years ago at age 19. The Bravas menu now includes gourmet burgers, hot dogs and tacos.

“Our goal is not to operate several locations,” Gonzalez said.

The business has outgrown the Fairfield location, which it leases and has as its base of operations.

“We feel we can have a bigger impact if we buy our own lot and have our own building,” he said.

With its Fairfield neighbors telling staff how important the business is to the area, Bravas would like to find a space in the 46807 ZIP code or in the 46805 Wells Street area, said Gonzalez, whose business partners include his sister Becky.

In its social media announcement, Gonzalez and his team said in part, “Since our initial interest in the Landing Project more than two years ago, there have been so many great changes at Bravas Burgers (and all of you have been a part of that change). As a result, we have decided to pursue an alternative direction for our new location.”

The decision was made in the last couple of weeks, and Gonzalez said Bravas is trying to be as transparent as possible with its customers, who it will keep informed through social media and its newsletter.