Local restaurants react to polar vortex

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FORT WAYNE – As historic low temperatures continue to bear down on Fort Wayne this week, many of the city’s offices, services and businesses have been closed or have had hours disrupted, including area restaurants.

Fort Wayne broke a 50-plus-year-old record for the lowest cold temperature for Jan. 30. The city saw a low of -13 recorded at Fort Wayne International Airport, surpassing the previous record of -8 in 1966, according to the National Weather Service.

“Taking into consideration the best interest of our staff, vendors and guests, all four Casa Restaurants will be closed due to the -30 wind chill forecast,” Casa Restaurants announced on its Facebook page Jan. 30. The local Italian restaurant chain plans to be open for business again 11 a.m. Jan. 31.

Don Hall’s chain of restaurants also closed some of its locations Jan. 30, including Don Hall’s Hollywood Drive-In, Hall’s Original Drive In, Don Hall’s Factory Restaurant, Hall’s State St. Prime Rib, The Tavern and Triangle Park Bar & Grille. Remaining open for business were The Gas House, Takaoka, Don Hall’s Guesthouse, the Commissary Restaurant in New Haven and the Canal Tap Haus.

Many restaurants continued to serve customers during their normal business hours, and some even capitalized on the freezing weather by running polar vortex specials.

On Jan. 30, 07 Pub, 3516 Broadway, advertised a special on chicken wings – 10 for $5. The special was so popular, the kitchen ran out by 7 p.m.

“Even though the weather is cold, we felt like it was in the best interest of the neighborhood to be open so we can at least have a place for them to go to even though it’s freezing cold — a little place for the neighborhood to come,” Clancy Shanks, one of the pub’s owners, said.

Despite the National Weather Service’s wind chill warning, Shanks said he hadn’t received any criticism about keeping the pub open.

“We have the heat on, the TV running and chicken wings ready to go,” he said.

Glenbrook Square, 4201 Coldwater Road, and its Food Court restaurants closed at 5 p.m. Wednesday. TGI Fridays at the mall closed early at 8 p.m. Wednesday so employees could get home safely, an employee said. P.F. Chang’s, also at the mall, stayed open past 5 p.m.

Downtown saw the closure of Tolon, 614 S. Harrison St., but the partnership that owns Proximo, 898 S. Harrison St., and Hoppy Gnome, 203 E. Berry St., vowed to stay open.

“Heck snow we’re NOT closed! Unless our doors are frozen shut we’ll be open normal hours Wednesday and Thursday (11am-10pm),” the Hoppy Gnome’s website said.

Big Eyed Fish, 1502 N. Wells St., promised free hot chocolate for customers. “#StayWarm everyone!” it  said on Facebook.

It was a bit too chilly for two restaurants serving chili dogs. Dawson’s Dogs in Riviera Plaza, 3213 St. Joe Center Road, and Cabin Fever Coneys, 930 Goshen Ave., decided to close Jan. 30.

Here’s a look at how other local restaurants have reacted to the freezing temperatures:

Bravas, 3412 Fairfield Ave., is offering a cold weather discount.

Big Eyed Fish, 1502 N Wells St., offered customers free hot chocolate Jan. 30.

Catablu, 6372 W. Jefferson Blvd., was closed Jan. 30.

El Azteca, 535 E. State Blvd., was closed Jan. 30.

Hop River Brewing Company, 1515 N. Harrison St., was closed Jan. 30.