RESTAURANT NOTES VIDEO: Tour newly opened Hop River Brewing; Three Rivers Distilling’s tasting room to open

Patrons try the new brews Sunday at the newly opened Hop River Brewing Co. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of
Hop River Brewing Co. has opened at 1515 N. Harrison St. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of
Shelves of board games are at family-friendly Hop River Brewing Co. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of
Hop River Brewing Co., 1515 N. Harrison St. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of
A sign reads "Keep Calm and Drink Beer" at Hop River Brewing Co. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of
Hop River Brewing Co. head brewer Kevin Debs leads a tour at the brewery Sunday. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of
We'll stick to Oreo cookies instead of the Oreo Bites at Arby's. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of
Three Rivers Distilling Co. will open its tasting room at a soft launch Sunday. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of

Hop River Brewing Co. was hoppin’ over the weekend as it celebrated its grand opening.

The family-friendly brewery at 1515 N. Harrison St., served Kolsch, a German ale, and Two Truths and a Rye-Red Ale, with a deep malty flavor, among its brews. The limited-release Primetime-Dry Hop Special sold out. Red and white wine, including Moscato, are also served for $9 for 5 ounces or $30 a bottle.

The brewery has snacks of chili lime nuts ($4) and caramelized onion dip with kettle chips and veggies ($7); sandwiches for $10 that include fried bologna with a fried egg, the vegan sloppy joe, and white BBQ chicken. Some come with a side of kettle chips. It also has the collard green and roasted sweet potato salad ($8) with chicken optional for $3 more; and a kids menu that includes grilled cheese ($5). Nonalcoholic drinks of pop ($1) and lemonade & milk and coffee ($2) are also available.

Ben Jackson, co-owner with Paris McFarthing, said the line of customers for Saturday’s grand opening went around the corner of the block. On Sunday, his children were playing board games chosen from shelves in the rear of the space while drinkers filled the bar and others toured the brewing area with head brewer Kevin Debs. Very few places let you give a tour of your workplace with a beer in your hand.

Regular hours are 4-10:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 4 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Friday; noon-12:30 a.m. Saturday and noon-8 p.m. Sunday.

RELATED STORY: UPDATED: Restaurant Notes extra: Hop River Brewing opening; here’s a look at its brews

RELATED STORY AND VIDEO: Restaurant Notes extra: Hop River Brewing Company hoping to open in December

Time for tasting

Three Rivers Distilling Co., 224 E. Wallace St., will have a soft launch of its new tasting room during a brunch 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday. Food includes waffles, pastries, bagels, craft cocktails and a Bloody Mary bar. Seating is limited and no reservations will be taken.

The official grand opening will take place 4-9 p.m. Feb. 13.

RELATED STORY: UPDATED: Restaurant Notes: Birdboy Brewing opening Roanoke taproom; Three Rivers Distilling tasting room almost ready

National Pizza Day

Friday is National Pizza Day and in honor of that Olive Garden recommends trying its new Meatball Pizza Bowl. It’s a bowl made from pizza crust filled with melted Italian cheeses and topped with meatballs in a meat sauce. It’s on the Create Your Own Lunch Duos menu and can be paired with soup or salad. The Meatball Pizza Bowl is available nationwide starting at $8.99.

Big Apple delivers

Speaking of pizza, Big Apple Pizza started delivering Jan. 10. Owner Pat O’Sullivan, a New York native, took the former Richard’s Bakery at 1130 N. Wells St. in a new direction a couple of years ago.

You can get 18- and 24-inch New York-style pies including the Long Island White with mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan cheeses and the Bronx Baked Ziti with pasta on it.

Call 260-424-4012 for delivery area and to order.

Sweetheart of a deal

Want a private dinner with your valentine? The Fresh Market is offering a Valentine’s Meal for $49.99, now available for preorder in stores and online until 2 p.m. Sunday. Orders will be available for pickup Monday-Feb. 14 in store. Choose between two Chateaubriand-cut premium choice filet mignons, two North Atlantic cold water lobster tails – or one of each – and serve with Yukon gold whipped potatoes alongside asparagus tips, ready to be seared. The deal comes with one dozen chocolate-dipped strawberries and a dozen roses. To place an online order, go to

Satisfy your inner ‘Lord of the Dance’

JK O’Donnell’s is looking for a few people who are good on their feet. This isn’t for serving but for dancing a few Irish jigs for St. Patrick’s Day.

The Irish pub is looking for 20 people willing to put in the cardio and come to practice 7-9 p.m. Feb. 19 and 26 and March 5 and 16.

Message the pub through Facebook at

Fat Tuesday feast

Rotary Club of Fort Wayne plans a Big Easy Feast.

The New Orleans-themed event will be held Feb. 13 in the Lincoln Financial Event Center at Parkview Field. Proceeds will fund Rotary’s downtown development plans to donate $200,000 for construction of a water jet fountain on the south plaza.

The feast includes an entre (seafood etoufee and andouille stuffed pork roast), sides (dirty rice and Creole hash), a vegetable (charred Cajun cream corn and smothered okra), a soup (crab and corn chowder or gumbo) and dessert (chicory coffee-infused creme brulee and beignets).

Lunch will be served 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and dinner 4-8 p.m. with a cash bar. Tickets cost $30 and must be bought in advance at

Getting fizzy with it

Downtown Fort Wayne will be popping with the inaugural Summit City Craft Soda Festival and Winter Carnival 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at the USF Performing Arts Center, 431 W. Berry St.

Fizz Fest will showcase over 100 vintage and craft sodas to sample and purchase. The family-friendly event will also feature old-time carnival games and live entertainment.

Soda will be made from pure sparkling water, real cane sugar, and premium flavors using recipes handed down through several generations and bottled on 1940s-era equipment.

General admission tickets cost $5 and unlimited sample wristbands for $20 will be available at the door.

A portion of the proceeds will go to support Blessings in a Backpack.

The event is sponsored by the Fort Wayne Downtown Improvement District and

SCAN Brown Bag Lunch

It’s almost time for SCAN (Stop Child Abuse & Neglect) Brown Bag Lunch on March 14.

This will be the 33rd annual lunch fundraiser, which features food donated by Casa Restaurants. Lunches must be ordered by March 7 and will be delivered every half-hour 11 a.m.-1 p.m. A minimum of seven lunches must be ordered for delivery. Lunches are available for pickup at The Summit, 1025 Rudisill Blvd., Door M, as well. A total of 2,900 lunches are available, and they usually sell out. This year’s goal is to raise more than $30,000 for SCAN.

An individual Insalata Casaburo is $7; pasta and meatballs with Insalata Casaburo is $9; family-style pasta and salad, which serves 20 and comes with a sheet cake from Walnut Hill Catering & Events, is $180; an extra tray of 40 meatballs is $85; and an extra tray of Insalata Casaburo is $70. All lunches come with cutlery, dinner roll, butter and a treat. Gluten-free pasta and salad dressing on the side aren’t available.

To order, send email to; call 260-421-5000, Ext. 2238; or go to

Oh, no, Oreo

We saw the sign at Arby’s for the Oreo Bites. Available for a limited time, they’re made with Oreo wafer pieces, Oreo cream and an Oreo sugar blend. They come 6 for $2.49. While they were served warm last week as the sign promised, of course by the time we finished our sandwich they were room temperature. We tried one. It felt like a clay ball. When we bit into it, it left us a little flat. We offered the rest to a co-worker, who agreed. They just didn’t taste like Oreos, or anything for that matter. Did that stop him from finishing off the bag? Nope.

We tried again this week, and we didn’t even wait to leave the drive-through lane. Very hot, wit gooey filling like a cinnamon roll glaze. However, while they smelled very good and had a chocolaty taste, it made us believe some magic must be lost without the ridges of the embossed cookie.

Have restaurant news? Call Lisa M. Esquivel Long at 260-461-8354, send email to or a fax to 260-461-8817 or write Restaurant Notes, C/O The News-Sentinel, PO Box 102, Fort Wayne, IN 46802.