Downtown Fort Wayne’s burgeoning craft brewing and creative food community recently gained a new member with the debut of Junk Ditch Brewing Company at 1825 West Main Street. The new restaurant and brewery opened on July 13 to serve local food and brew connoisseurs along with followers of its sister company, Affiné Food Truck, which has been providing popular fare around town for the past four years.
Both Junk Ditch and the Affiné Food Truck are part of Affiné Holding Corporation’s growing family of businesses co-owned by young entrepreneurs Andrew Smith, Dan Campbell and Jack May. GK Baked Goods, started by May’s wife Grace Kelly, also is an Affiné enterprise.
While Junk Ditch offers some of its own in-house craft brew, it also offers guest beer and wine to accompany its unique entrees made with locally-sourced meats and produce. The restaurant’s lunch and bar menus include such unusual offerings as pig ears, shrimp-and-corn pizza and strawberries with beets, as well as more traditional choices like chicken wings and the Junk Ditch burger made with Waygu beef from the Joseph Decuis Farm. There are small plates for individuals as well as large plates that are meant to be shared. Diners can top it off by ordering sweetbreads, tarts or cake made by GK Baked Goods, or a cool and refreshing treat in the form of gourmet ice cream or sorbet. Junk Ditch also offers a popular brunch on the weekends, featuring breakfast entrees along with GK’s famous cinnamon rolls, muffins and donuts.
Junk Ditch Brewing, which is housed in the old Korte Paper Company industrial building at the west end of Fort Wayne’s busy West Main Street corridor, is named after the stream that meanders behind the building. The dining room and bar are an eclectic mix of an industrial factory look combined with the rustic charm of natural wood. The old brick walls of the warehouse are exposed, along with steel support beams and ceiling-mounted metal ductwork and industrial light fixtures that hang from the second-story-height ceiling. The building’s original cracked concrete floors were replaced with new poured-and-polished concrete floors.
Dining tables are made of slabs of reclaimed natural wood from local trees (mostly from the West Central area of Fort Wayne) that were knocked down during violent storms in the region. The natural wooden slabs were finished and crafted into table tops by local artist “3 Feather” Parker Lee Shelton. Shelton also milled, planed and finished long strips of natural varnished wood that hang horizontally above the bar and on an accent wall. The face of the bar, meanwhile, is adorned with rustic old steel tiles purchased at auction from the old General Electric factory. Built-in wooden benches along with industrial-style metal chairs and bar stools are used for seating, while live cactus tabletop arrangements add warmth. A tall accent wall is adorned with a modern watermark design by local graphic artist Justin Lim of the Old 5 & Dime Sign Company, who also hand painted signage and window lettering for the building. All of these design elements work together to create a quaint and informal, welcoming ambience.
Junk Ditch patrons appear to come from all ages and demographics. “We have a wide base of customers. They like the atmosphere, the beer list, and the various unique food options,” said Affiné and Junk Ditch partner Dan Campbell. “We see families with babies, millennials with their friends, and older customers, too. We also have seen some of our friends from the restaurant industry as our customers. We wanted this to be the place where other members of the restaurant crowd could come in and enjoy themselves after work on a late night, with the odd hours and that type of thing,” he said.
Junk Ditch was made possible by a lot of hard work from the three owners and their talented team members who have become known for their great hospitality. The owners’ investments along with an SBA-backed business loan from Bippus State Bank provided the financial backing needed to turn the old warehouse into a modern-day dining establishment and get the restaurant up and running.
Look for more developments from Affiné Holding Corporation in the future. “Junk Ditch is not the end game; we are always searching for the next thing to do,” Campbell said. “I see us starting additional separately-branded restaurants offering new concepts.” In the meantime, Affiné will continue to operate its food truck and GK Baked Goods will continue to serve the restaurant community by providing fresh-baked gourmet breads and sweets.
The Affiné owners are former members of the CookSpring Shared Kitchen facility in Fort Wayne as well as clients of CookSpring’s partnering agency, the Northeast Indiana Small Business Development Center.
Junk Ditch Brewing is open for brunch Saturdays and Sundays starting at 10 a.m. and offers menu food later in the day, with closing at 1 a.m. on Saturday and at 8 p.m. on Sunday. During the week, Junk Ditch is open for dinner on Mondays from 5 p.m. until midnight; on Wednesdays and Thursdays for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to midnight; and on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays. For more information on Junk Ditch Brewing, call 260-203-4045 or visit its website, www.junkditchbrewingco.com.