Restaurant Notes extra: CS3 owner opens Calhoun Street teahouse Dlightfuls with vegan, gluten-free options

Dlightfuls, 1932 Calhoun St., has vintage Fort Wayne postcards under glass on the tables along with doilies and handkerchiefs. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Dlightfuls, 1932 Calhoun St., gave owner Donna Kessler a chance to dig out her vintage cookie jars. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Did someone say, bacon? Dlightfuls, 1932 Calhoun St., has vegan- and gluten-free options but also nonvegetarian items such as this baked doughnut with maple icing and Canadian bacon. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Dlightfuls, 1932 Calhoun St., gave owner Donna Kessler a chance to dig out her vintage cookie jars. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Dlightfuls, 1932 Calhoun St., featured baked doughtnuts topped with fruit on Friday. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Dlightfuls, 1932 Calhoun St., bakes its doughnuts. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Dlightfuls, 1932 Calhoun St., gave owner Donna Kessler the opportunity to display her Westfield teacups and saucers on the wall. T-shirts with Dlightful's logo and bags made from grocery bags are also for sale. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
T-shirts with Dlightful's logo are for sale at the tea house. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Dlightfuls, 1932 Calhoun St., has vintage Fort Wayne postcards under glass on the tables along with doilies and handkerchiefs. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Decorative handkerchiefs are under glass at the tables at Dlightfuls, 1932 Calhoun St. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Dlightfuls, 1932 Calhoun St., gave owner Donna Kessler the opportunity to display her Westfield teacups and saucers on the wall. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Dlightfuls, 1932 Calhoun St., has something for vegans and vegetarians as well. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Dlightfuls, 1932 Calhoun St., came about because owner Donna Kessler was looking for a kitchen that was larger than her one at CS3 across the street. It also came with a storefront that gave her space for her teahouse. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Dlightfuls, 1932 Calhoun St., gave owner Donna Kessler the opportunity to display her Westfield teacups and saucers on the wall. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
The Asian noodle bowl has been popular with guests before Monday's official opening at Dlightfuls, 1932 Calhoun St. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Dlightfuls, 1932 Calhoun St. , opened Monday. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Dlightfuls, 1932 Calhoun St., has vintage flair and vegan- and gluten-free options. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)

Donna Kessler’s new Dlightfuls teahouse, which opened Monday, gives her a chance to serve vegan- and gluten-free options that didn’t quite fit into her Calhoun Street Soups, Salads, And Spirits​ across the street.

The teahouse, at 1932 Calhoun St., features many vintage touches, thanks to the cookie jars and Westfield teacup and saucer sets that Kessler and her sister gleaned from antique stores and estate sales for a past business. Colorful doilies, handkerchiefs and vintage postcards of Fort Wayne buildings, some of them now gone, are under the glass-top tables. Work by local artists are scattered on the wall.

Kessler has spent two years trying to get Dlightfuls started.

“Calhoun Street Soups, Salads, And Spirits​ turned 10 in November,” said Kessler, a Fort Wayne native and 1984 Bishop Dwenger High School graduate. “People were asking us to cater for them. It was too hard in the tiny kitchen over there (at CS3).”

She could cater small, buffet-style receptions but she was getting calls for larger events. It was either turn down the jobs or look for a larger kitchen. She found one catty-corner to CS3, and it came with the storefront.

She had a number of vegan and vegetarian employees at CS3 and wanted to offer those options there, but once the bar went in she knew she had to serve a menu for wider tastes. Dlightfuls – she wanted a name that had the D for Donna in it – provided the canvas for her vision.

“My thing, I’ll have a salad and a piece of cheesecake,” she said. “…This younger generation thinks about what they eat.”

Dlightfuls has gluten-free and vegan noodle bowls and vegan flatbreads, but nonvegetarians have the option to add meat.

And while Fort Wayne’s Conjure Coffee is served, she has organic tea, of course. The loose-leaf tea is packaged into tea bags in-house.

“I wanted to do to tea what people do to coffee,” she said.

Open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, Kessler and her employees were quietly open last week to serve free food and drinks, including smoothies, to get the employees up to speed and see what guests responded to. She’ll have 6-10 employees with two women baking for her, which she’s been doing alone. Breakfast will include baked doughnuts. Desserts include blue bonnet-designed cookies that she says will be a signature feature.

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

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