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