Restaurant Notes extra: Rudy’s celebrates 5 years of a developing downtown Fort Wayne neighborhood; Rudy Mahara returns from cigar-filled Gettysburg tour

Rudy's plans a block party to celebrate 5 years on Brackenridge Avenue, which used to be rife with drugs, prostitution and gangs before the business opened, said owner Rudy Mahara. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of
Rudy Mahara's son, also named Rudy, left, is seen with his father, wearing white, along with a Civil War re-enactor in a Union uniform and Mahara's son-in-law, Justin Randolph. (Photo courtesy of Rudy Mahara)
A statue stands atop Little Round Top at Gettysburg. (Photo courtesy of Rudy Mahara)
This plaque on the Masonic monument in Gettysburg tells the story of two Masonic brothers who wound up fighting on opposite sites in the Civil War. (Photo courtesy of Rudy Mahara)
Ruth Mahara, a 33rd degree Mason, stands in front of a monument depicting the mortally wounded Confederate Brigadier General Lewis Armistead being aided by a fellow Mason from the Union side at Gettysburg. Mahara is wearing his Masons apron. (Photo courtesy of Rudy Mahara)

Rudy’s is celebrating its 5th birthday, but it’s not just about a party, said owner Rudy Mahara, who returned this week from a Gettysburg trip that incorporated cigars. It’s been five years of change for the area around its Brackenridge Street address, once filled with drugs, gangs and prostitution that’s now a thriving spot with Parkview Field and CityScape Flats as Rudy’s neighbors, Mahara said.

Rudy’s, 409 W. Brackenridge St., is shutting down the block for food, beer and live music 5 p.m.-midnight tonight. The block party will feature a beer release from Mad Anthony Brewing. It’s free except for food and drink purchases.

“Who would have thought something like Rudy’s would have taken off?” Mahara said.

The business opened Aug. 8, 2013, and is a spot for a cigar and a drink, whether its Indiana wine and craft beer or a wine slushie. And don’t forget the DeBrand Chocolates. It has lots of outside seating to let that cigar smoke drift away.

“We’ve tried to make it very female-friendly,” Mahara said.

In fact, it gets a lot of bachelorette parties, where first one woman and then others will try a cigar.

“When Rudy’s opened this was one of the least desirable neighborhoods,” he said.

When trouble-spot homes would go up at tax sale Mahara would buy them.

Now the business has neighbors in the CityScape Flats.

Mahara doesn’t see the business as a cigar bar but a place that happens to sell cigars. However, it has gained a name for itself there, he said. Last year, Rudy’s was one of the 13 retail outlets nationwide to carry boxes of Tatuaje Monster Series cigars.

People from around the country called Rudy’s to ask if they buy any unsold boxes after its event.

Mahara returned this week from a weekend trip to Gettysburg with a group that included his son, Rudy, and son-in-law, Justin Randolph, a cigar sales representative for Battleground Cigar. The company’s North and South series carry names of Civil War generals, including Armistead and Pickett.

It was a chance to smoke cigars at various monuments while celebrating the brotherhood of Masons that existed during the Civil War when members of the fraternal order had to take opposite sides.

Mahara is a 33rd-degree Mason and the assistant raban (second in line) of the Mizpah Shrine. Each degree involves moral lessons.

“It brings that emotion back to you,” he said of his time spent at Gettysburg. “…It’s a very moving religious experience.”

Masons helped install the first monument at Gettysburg, Mahara said.

The battle near Gettysburg, Pa., took place July 1-3, 1863, during which the Confederates reached their most northern point of the 4-year war. However, they suffered heavy casualties and lost the battle and eventually the war with Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendering two years later.

Mahara and his group also paid homage to the Hoosier men buried at Indiana’s monument at Gettysburg.

Mahara had a photo of himself taken wearing his Mason’s apron by the monument expressing Masonic brotherhood.

“We wear an apron,” Mahara said. “It’s a sign of purity.”

Masons should keep their morals as pure as the white apron on the day they receive it.

Thousands of Masons fought on both sides at Gettysburg, and Mahara tells the story of Confederate Brigadier General Lewis Armistead and Union Major General Winfield Scott Hancock. The two had fought together in Mexican-American War.

“They were friends,” Mahara said.

Coincidentally, both men were injured a couple of hundred yards apart from one another. The mortally wounded Armistead “gave the Masonic sign of distress,” Maher said. Hancock survived and made sure his Masonic brother’s watch and Bible were passed on to his family.

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