Fort Wayne loves its restaurants. Some of these eateries have been serving generations of families. Be sure to make these historical restaurants stops on your next Fort Wayne visit!
The Oyster Bar
The first patron in The Oyster Bar location was in 1888, but the restaurant changed hands many times until the real Oyster Bar era began sixty-six years later. Hughie Johnston, local athlete and first basemen for the Zollner Pistons Softball team, bought the restaurant with teammate Neal Barille in 1954. These new owners also are the first to bring oysters to the location. The restaurant gained a reputation among professionals in Fort Wayne. Barille purchased Hughie's portion of the bar in 1963 and renamed the establishment "Neal's Oyster Bar." Others have owned and renamed the space, which has been owned since 1987 by Steven M. Gard and Brenda K. Gard. Today, The Oyster Bar serves seafood, steak, and a variety of other items in a tavern-like setting. For a more detailed history of The Oyster Bar, read their history.
Coney Island Weiner Stand has been serving steamed hot dogs to Fort Wayne for 100 years. In 1914, depending on who is asked) a large amount of Greek Macedonian immigrants came to Fort Wayne. Harry Dorikis, James Samaras, and Stilos Papas were the three original owners of Coney Island; they decided to survey the wiener on a bun, which had an explosion in popularity following the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. The ownership changed hands a few times until Russ Choka bought the property several years later. Russ Choka worked at Coney Island every day for over forty years and was involved with the restaurant for fifty-three years. His daughter, Kathy Choka, is now behind the counter, serving up coneys, burgers, baked beans, and homemade pies.
Cindy's Diner is a Valentine Diner, a type of restaurant almost exclusively found in Kansas today. Entrepreneur Arthur Valentine invented these portable and small restaurants in Wichita after the Great Depression, imagining a small restaurant that one or two people could operate alone to serve eight to ten patrons. These Valentine Diners shipped all over the country, becoming portable restaurants or the only restaurant in many small towns. In Fort Wayne, Noah Clauss purchased the diner, which he named "Noah's Ark," for $6,000 in 1954, establishing one of the city's first fast food restaurants at the northwest corner of Clinton and Jefferson Streets. In 1960, the diner was bought a second time and became "Paul's Diner," and six years later the restaurant was sold again and transformed into "Marge's Diner." In 1990, restored to its original luster, it was dubbed "Cindy's Diner" and moved to its present location to the delight of nostalgia buffs and others who enjoy the excellent food and cheery atmosphere. In 1997, the addition of the Murphy's Dime Store Donut Machine adds to the nostalgia and memories of the "good old days" in downtown Fort Wayne. Some favorites from the locals include Garbage, Cindy's specialty of hash browns, ham, eggs, and cheese all fried together. Its slogan today is "Serving the World, 15 at a time," a reference to the 15 seats in the diner. Today additional seating is available outside.