PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Lafayette’s annual Christmas Parade was held on Saturday, December 3, in downtown Lafayette. More than 100 groups participated in the parade, including schools, businesses, service organizations and community leaders. The parade made its way down Main Street from 11th to Second Street, and the route was packed with festive parade goers dressed for the holiday celebration and the cold December temperatures. The parade’s big names — 

Santa and Mrs. Claus — welcomed the crowds and spread holiday cheer as they kicked off the unofficial start to the holiday season.

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Before the start of every NFL game, the stadium’s grounds crew uses a Clegg Impact Tester to determine the hardness of the field and to ensure the playing surface is safe for athletes. Developed in the 1970s in Australia by Baden Clegg, a geomechanical engineer and a lecturer at the University of Western Australia, the instrument contains an accelerometer, or hammer, that is dropped from a predetermined height to measure how quickly weight stops upon impact. 

NFL rules dictate the reading must produce a score under 100 before a game can be played. The higher the number, the harder the playing surface and the higher the risk for a player to suffer a concussion if his head hits the ground. And every Clegg Impact Tester used by the NFL is manufactured by Lafayette Instrument Company, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. 

“People drive by the building and see the word ‘instrument’ and they think we make musical instruments,” says Brian Brown, sales manager for Lafayette Instrument. “We actually make and sell scientific instruments in more than 100 different countries, working with corporate clients such as the NFL, American Airlines and FedEx.”

In addition to being the sole distributer of the Clegg, Lafayette Instrument is the world’s leading manufacturer of Polygraph instrumentation and equipment and offers innovative technologies to support neuroscience research and instruments for human evaluation used in education, temporary staffing, human resources, occupational medicine, rehabilitation and other professions.  

“For the past 75 years, we’ve been able to reinvent ourselves to meet customers’ needs,” says Jennifer Rider, president and CEO of Lafayette Instrument. “What started as a partnership with Purdue University expanded to partnerships with numerous universities, government agencies and other organizations around the world. Our product line and massive reach sets us apart from other businesses in the area, and even in the state.” 

Lafayette Instrument was founded by Purdue electrical engineering graduate Max Wastl in 1947. What began as a small operation in a shed with one employee has grown into an international leader in scientific instrumentation manufacturing with the Lafayette-based headquarters and primary manufacturing facility that employs 48 people, and a second location, Camden Instruments, acquired in 1998 and located about one hour northeast of Birmingham, England, that employs around 20.   

“Our Camden Instruments subsidiary focuses on neuroscience products exclusively,” Rider says. “They do some machining and a lot of their own assembly. They have their own engineering and tech teams, much like Lafayette, just on a smaller scale.”

Rider’s father-in-law, Roger McClellan, bought the company with two partners and restructured it in the 1990s with a focus on vertical integration, a business model that became critical during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Lafayette Instrument has the capability to not only conceive product ideas and iterate on them but also build them out in full-scale production within our own facility,” Rider says. “Over the past 10 to 20 years, vertical integration isn’t quite as critical as it used to be. We have many options available to us, using providers around the state and sourcing equipment internationally. We still do as much as we can in-house because it saves money and it certainly saves us time. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when other companies were waiting on vendors and suppliers, we were able to fulfill orders.” 

The orders Lafayette Instrument fills range from simple instruments such as a pegboard used to test fingertip dexterity and gross movement of the hand in an ergonomics lab or basic calipers used for physical ability testing, to sophisticated computerized instruments used in health care, law enforcement and research facilities that can communicate instantaneous results digitally. 

The Polygraph is one such instrument that Lafayette Instrument continues to innovate. The paper readouts depicted in the movies have been replaced with a computerized system that connects to a digital interface. 

“The need for credibility assessment solutions has remained steady and increased,” Rider says. “The organizations that use Polygraph know it’s the best tool and technology available today, outside of basic interview and interrogation techniques, to try to determine if a person is being deceptive. But it doesn’t mean it is the exclusive technology that will always be used forever.

“There are academic endeavors, institutional endeavors and our own research and development to find ways to make it better. But the need for products like these aren’t going away. Whether it’s cybercrimes or terrorism or criminal investigations, the data acquired through these types of instruments is incredibly valuable.”   

Customers approach the company with ideas for specific instruments they need. Occasionally those will be large-scale custom manufacturing orders, but most often they are tools that Lafayette Instrument can bring to market. 

“We’re very ingrained in the industries we serve,” Brown says. “People recognize the Lafayette Instrument name and come to us for solutions. The confidence our customers have in our company to be on the leading edge of innovation and provide instrumentation that is going to benefit them is what keeps me excited.” 

As Lafayette Instrument looks to its next 75 years, capitalizing on the strength of its employees — many are long-tenured like Brown — and its drive for ingenuity will propel its growth for years to come. 

“To reach 100-year-plus milestones, you can’t be afraid of change and disruption,” Rider says. “We don’t want to be complacent and think we’ll have another 75 years of success doing exactly what we’ve been doing. We have to understand the value that we bring to the market and to our customers and build on that. We have to know ourselves. When you stray too far from your core strengths, that’s when a company starts to falter.”

Whether it’s working with governmental agencies, neuroscience researchers and industry, health care practitioners or the NFL, Lafayette Instrument offers solutions that advance safety, security, science and medicine. 

“Every product that goes out our doors is helping someone or protecting someone,” Rider says. “There’s a lot of purpose in that work that gives meaning to what you’re doing. It’s easy to be fulfilled by that.”  ★ 

BY KATHY MATTER
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

In bright pink script neon, high on the wall of Mary Lou Donuts’ new eastside Lafayette flagship store, four words say it all:

Eat more hole foods

In the friendly but competitive world of donut baking in Greater Lafayette everyone — from Cassidy Kitchel, who makes gluten-free and vegan donuts at Rose Market in downtown Lafayette to Debbie and Tom Corlew, who quietly run the area’s second oldest, and very traditional, donut shop on Veterans Memorial Parkway — agrees on that adage.

While donuts of varying types, and freshness, can be found in pretty much every gas station, convenience store and food market plus national donut chains, area pastry lovers loyally seek out and abundantly support the Corlew Donut Company, Hammer Donuts, Mary Lou Donuts and Rose Market in Lafayette and The Homestead in West Lafayette.

Chances are good there’s at least one name on this list you’ve never heard of, so let’s meet these folks. And when you’re done reading this, put these stops on your morning calendar. Nothing tastes better than donuts and cider in the fall!

Stop 1: Corlew Donut Company

Make this stop one because while you’re on the southside you can also pick up cider at locally owned Wea Creek Orchard, 5618 S. 200 East.

Tom Corlew, the shy baking genius behind the donuts here, prefers for his wife, Debbie, to do the talking. You might be shy too if you spent every night, six nights a week from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. by yourself making donuts. 

“He’s 65 and started baking as a teenager. It’s all he’s ever done,” Debbie says. Originally, he worked for Payless in Anderson as a baker, then was asked to move to Lafayette to manage baking production at Payless stores here. “It’s a lot of hard work. You’ve got to know what you’re doing. Donut baking is a skill,” she says.

In 1999 Tom and Debbie decided to open their own southside Lafayette bakery. They’ve never advertised, but word of mouth brings in a steady stream of people. “Our donuts speak for themselves,” says Debbie. “The southside is booming and our business just keeps getting bigger.

“Our donuts are fresh every day. We don’t sell day-old donuts and we never freeze them. You can’t freeze donuts and make them taste good.”

Every night anywhere from 70 to 140 dozen donuts and pastries roll out of Tom’s kitchen. Weekends draw the most customers through the doors of this true mom and pop operation. Debbie, Tom and son Thomas do it all. After most of the donuts are baked, Debbie comes in at 3:30 a.m. to fill and ice them. Thomas makes the icing and glazes the super light yeast rings. 

Besides the quintessential glazed yeast ring, best sellers at Corlew include tiger tails, long johns, apple fritters and jelly Bismarcks. With their mandate to bake fresh daily, “we can’t have all those weird, different donuts that we’d just have to throw away. We just go with what’s popular,” Debbie says.

Corlew Donut Company is open 5 to 11 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Look for them next to the Arco gas station on the corner of 18th and Veterans Memorial Parkway.

Stop 2: Hammer Donuts 
       
If you’re looking for crazy, whimsical donuts, look no further than Hammer Donuts, which got its start in the now defunct Discount Den on Purdue’s campus five years ago but, since January, scents the air on Lafayette’s Main Street. 

And, no, the owner’s name is not Hammer, as is often asked. Think “Boiler Up! Hammer Down!” and you’ve got it. The Taiwanese owners, Michael Cho and Cecilia Chiu, majored in engineering at Purdue, moonlighting in donut making. 

In October 2017 an ambitious Purdue student, Tate Schienbein, taught himself to make donuts, built a team and started selling donuts to Purdue students through the Discount Den on campus. Michael joined as a donut chef a year later, later adding the title of general manager. A sugary tangle of circumstances iced by COVID issues nearly put the fledgling business out of business until Michael and Cecilia took a leap of faith and rented the space abandoned by Kathy’s Kandies.

On any given day you might find an elegant crème brulee donut or a kid-friendly Lucky Charms donut looking back at you from the glass case. For Valentine’s Day baker Cho and his staff painstakingly hand-cut donuts into hearts, and at the holidays they’ll carve out a handful of Christmas shapes and decorate them with multicolored icing. Have a special occasion, like a gender reveal, you want a donut for? They are your bakers.

Hopping across the river brought unexpected challenges. Temperatures and humidity levels in the kitchen demand constant watching in the donut making process, Cecilia says. “It was the biggest struggle; even the change of water made a big difference. A wider range of temperatures was OK in our West Lafayette location but we had to be more specific in Lafayette. We had to figure a lot out.”

As engineers they were data driven, and in the end data saved them, nudging changes in mixing times and frying temperatures, among others. They held onto their contract to provide donuts to Circle K gas stations, some campus locations and a lot of churches. “Right now, we’re geared to wholesale and that makes us stable,” Cecilia says, while they build up their walk-in business.

During the week the glass case is filled with more traditional choices. Years of appealing to adventurous college students plays out in the cases on Fridays and Saturdays when you’ll find marvels of modern donut making such as blueberry cheesecake donuts, lemon pie donuts, Samoa donuts inspired by Girl Scout cookies, S’more donuts with a marshmallow in the hole or Voo Doo donuts, which have to be seen to be appreciated.

Hammer Donuts is located at 611 Main St., Lafayette. Hours: 6 a.m.- 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday.

Stop 3: Mary Lou Donuts

Mary Lou Donuts opened the doors of its tiny A-frame bakery restaurant on South Fourth street in 1961. In the 61 years since, four different owners have opened new chapters in the venerable business. 

Give Mary Lou and Stu Graves, who also operated Graves Bakery on the West Lafayette Levee, credit for originating the iconic Lafayette business. They gave the store its name and its donut recipes. Then came the Keith Cochran era, followed by the Brian Freed era. When former Jefferson High School math teacher and girls’ basketball coach Jeff Waldon took over in June 2017 he wanted his era to be marked by modernization and growth. “It’s an honor to carry on what the other three did for the community,” Waldon says.

Immediately Waldon began overdue planning for a bigger facility and this April opened a 4,000-square-foot bakery restaurant on Commerce Drive behind the Olive Garden. Initially visions of a bigger A-frame flooded his dreams, but builders nixed that idea. What emerged was a big, white happy donut box of a building with huge hot pink and turquoise polka dots sprinkled all over it, mindful of the sprinkled donuts inside. Ample kitchen space allowed him to make a million-dollar investment in an automated donut fryer. Soon a robot will be “hired” for its light touch that keeps donuts from flattening out in a key part of the automated process.

None of the time-tested recipes have changed, but Waldon acknowledges that a slightly different taste might be noticed beneath the glaze. Shortly after he took over “the FDA mandated the elimination of all trans fats in frying. It does change the taste a bit,” he says. Still, it hasn’t stopped people coming in the doors and walking out with polka dot boxes full of treats.

“With the new machinery we can produce 250 to 300 dozen donuts an hour, eight times what the old store could do,” he says. Customers used to complain that they couldn’t get enough cream horns because the original bakery could only produce 120 a week. Now the number is closer to 500 a week. 

This fall you’ll find Mary Lou Donuts and their polka dot boxes replacing Kroger’s products in all the local Payless stores, another mark of Waldon’s expansion plans. His dreams are now filled with visions of a huge bakery in the Indianapolis area that would allow Mary Lou Donuts to be in all the Kroger stores there. He’s actively working on making that dream come true. “My job is to expand the business to honor all the people who put in hard work before me,” he says.

Locations for Mary Lou Donuts are at 1830 S. Fourth St. and 4150 Commerce Dr., Lafayette. Hours for both are 5 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday.

Stop 4: The Homestead

Although the glass front donut case fills just a small corner of West Lafayette’s Homestead, known for its foods to go as well as its breakfast and lunch business, the donuts are a point of pride in the store.

That’s because each and every cake and yeast donut is hand rolled, cut, fried, filled and frosted, something full-service restaurants rarely do. “We keep it fairly simple — basic customer favorites,” says owner Jody Bahler. “It’s just an enhancement for our business.”

Homestead’s flagship store calls Remington home and that’s where the donuts are made each night, Monday through Friday. Then they’re driven to West Lafayette in time for that store’s opening at 7 a.m. Three days a week they’re also delivered to Franciscan Hospital.

“We taught ourselves how to do it,” she says. “Friends of ours own a donut shop in southern Michigan and we watched their process (which takes 5-6 hours) then tweaked it for us. Labor is the most expensive thing in a donut.

“It’s so much fun. Yes, it is!” Jody says. “I like doing the finishing touches.”

High on the list of Homestead favorites sits a maple bacon long john. Bacon dusted with sugar caramelizes in a frying pan before nestling into its home in the long john’s creamy maple icing. “Long john” is a Midwest term for a bar-shaped donut, probably taken from long underwear worn on the farm in the winter, although no one knows for sure how it became attached to a donut. 

Stepping outside the box, Jody has even constructed tiered wedding cakes out of donuts. For special events the restaurant will provide a big board with pegs on it with, of course, a donut on every peg so attendees can grab and munch.

Because donuts are best fresh, Homestead reduces its prices at 3 p.m. daily for any still left in the case. “You can fill a box for $5, but it’s always a risk.”

She offers a tip for making a donut bought late in the day taste like it just came out of the fryer. “I suggest popping it in the microwave for 5-7 seconds. It’ll taste like it’s just out of the fryer.”

The Homestead is located at 1550 Win Hentschel Blvd., West Lafayette. Hours:  7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday.

Stop 5: Rose Market

Cassidy Kitchel was working at The Arts Federation when her parents first opened Rose Market, but she came on board as a baker in January and her gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan donuts have quickly put the small Main Street shop on the map.

A self-described health nut, she’s been creating and tweaking recipes for more than a decade, ever since her son was diagnosed with celiac disease as a toddler. “I baked my own stuff because you couldn’t find it, and when you did it was too expensive.”

There’s science and a lot of practice behind each donut in her glass case, which beckons buyers, a colorful treat for the eyes as well as a tasty treat for the tummy. “Being gluten and dairy free takes lots of practice but I think I’ve perfected it,” Cassidy says. Even folks who are not gluten free find the taste surprisingly delightful, something they don’t have to lie about liking.

Cassidy feels her grandmother Dolores Rose, for whom the store is named, has become a cooking angel watching over her shoulder. “I was really close to her. She found so much joy in cooking for others and I really channel her. Love comes through in what you bake,” she says. “I can feel her with me.” 

Her joy comes in seeing donut-deprived celiac kids go crazy over a bright blue Cookie Monster donut with bulging eyes. “When they haven’t had it, or can’t have it, and are finally able to pick something out, it makes me so happy,” she says. “I’ve had people literally stand in front of the case and cry to have this in our community.”

 That includes treat lovers of all ages who have allergies, need to eat dairy free or eat vegan. When they go to a regular bakery there’s often just one choice they can eat, or more often, no treats at all.

Cassidy takes pride in using cage-free eggs, high-quality flour and top of the line ingredients all through her process. There are no artificial dyes in Cookie Monster’s blue icing. All her rich colors come from plant-based superfood powders. Even the colored sprinkles can boast of being dye free, perfect for kids who have allergies to food dyes. 

Although Rose Market offers donuts all week, the widest selection fills the case on Saturdays. French toast, coffeecake and streusel donuts are among the best sellers along with perennial favorite blueberry. Every time you go there’s likely to be a new treat staring back at you, such as a stuffed donut that’s a play on strawberry shortcake with vegan whipped cream and fresh strawberries on top.

Vanilla donuts provide the base for ice cream sandwiches with non-dairy chocolate ice cream, a dollop of vegan whip, a drizzle of chocolate syrup and sprinkles. Also in the freezer case you can find gluten-free biscuits and gravy.

Because Cassidy’s donuts are baked, not fried, you can pop them into the freezer and expect them to come out just as fresh as they went in.

Word of the business has spread quickly on social media, generating a loyal base of kids and adults that come in weekly and “we have new people every week too. I think we’ve just scratched the surface,” Cassidy says.

During the interview for this story a Mexican baker, owner of a bakery in the Yucatan who was visiting relatives in the states, happened upon Rose Market and walked out with a small box of donuts. Ten minutes later she was back extolling their virtues and asking Cassidy for a gluten-free baking lesson. “The donuts are amazing. They taste so good and they’re beautiful,” exclaimed Maru Medina. “Oprah needs to find you.”  

Rose Market is located at 816 Main St., Lafayette. Hours: Monday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.  ★    

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED

From humble beginnings

50 years ago inside an old church building, the Lyn Treece Boys and Girls Club has been a welcoming embrace for Greater Lafayette’s children.

Treece was a Lafayette businessman whose interests included Burger Chef franchises. He was one of the original owners of the Indiana Pacers when the team joined the American Basketball Association in 1967.

He paid $30,000 for the former Riverside Church of God, located on North Ninth Street across from the then-Tippecanoe Junior High, to set up the first Boys Club in Lafayette. Steady growth during the next six years led Treece to put $100,000 toward a new building that opened at 1529 N. 10th St. in 1980.

An early member of the Boys Club was one of five brothers living with a divorced mother and on welfare.

“My lifetime has been with the club,” says Barry Richard, executive director of the Lyn Treece Boys and Girls Club.

“The Boys Club allowed me to develop the areas I needed to, to then become a member of the Lafayette Police Department, become the sheriff, become a city councilman, county councilman, be able to do all the things I’ve done.”

With pride, Richard gave a tour of the building that he says is unlike most Boys and Girls Clubs across the United States.

Walk inside the door and to the left are rows of tables and chairs designed to be used by 60 to 100 children a day to do their homework. 

“Typically, when you go into a Boys and Girls Club you’ll see a pool table, ping pong table, foosball, air hockey. We prioritize academics,” Richard says. “This is set up as our academic hall. We help them with their homework after they’ve had their snack. We have certified teachers come in to help them.”

That’s not the only academic space in the building. Thanks to the generosity of SIA associates in 2012, a learning theater room is available for smaller groups. 

“We can conduct lessons and help the children in a classroom setting,” Richard says.

The Lyn Treece Boys and Girls Club also prepares children for life outside the classroom. Richard says Lafayette is the only Boys and Girls Club in the U.S. to have an area dedicated to a barber shop/beauty shop. It even has a replica barber pole outside the door.

“To help children with their self-esteem and their personal hygiene, I thought it would be neat to have our own barber shop/beauty shop,” Richard says of the shop, which is stocked with everything one would see at a local establishment. Volunteers take care of the services, which are free to the children.

There’s even a laundry room inside the club, where staff members teach children how to use a washer and dryer.

It’s not all work and no play, though. There are enough board games to stock a toy store. A multipurpose room is used for arts and crafts and includes a TV set. Meals can be eaten in the room, too.

An old locker room has been converted into a game room, where the Boys and Girls Club standard air hockey, foosball and pool tables are located along with video games. 

“We’ve utilized our building to the full capacity,” Richard says. “Typically, by mid-winter we’ll have 100-plus children here a day.”

The future at the North 10th Street location includes baseball and soccer fields. Land has been purchased surrounding the Boys and Girls Club and much of it has been cleared of unsightly dilapidated housing. 

Open to children ages 6 to 18, the club offers an annual membership for little to no cost. For $10 — or 83 cents a month, as Richard says — that’s the only expense families will pay at the Boys and Girls Club. Scholarships are available for families that cannot afford to send multiple children.

“Beyond that, there’s never any charge,” Richard says. “They don’t pay for programs, snacks, meals, field trips. Nothing.”

The Boys and Girls Club expanded its services in 1999 to the former Tahoe Swim Club on Beck Lane in Lafayette. With expansion of that facility, which includes a game room, a gym and two academic spaces, approximately 100 students are welcomed daily. 

A third location on land at South and 23rd streets is nearing the fund-raising stage. Richard expects that club to serve 150-plus students from the surrounding Murdock, Sunnyside and Oakland schools as well as the Columbian Park neighborhood where Richard grew up.

“It’s going to be amazing,” Richard says. It’s going to have two gyms, game rooms, arts and crafts, personal hygiene area, the learning theater, the academic support.”

Richard estimates that once funding is in place, construction would take 18 to 24 months.

“I want to make our facilities, our organization their Disney World,” he says. “The children we serve don’t get to go to Disney World. This is some of the highlight of their childhood, that they know it is a safe place to come and they’ll be taken care of. 

“We’ll make sure they get their homework done, that they have the Christmas presents, the acknowledgment of them doing well. We’re going to fill that void in their life, to let them know that they have self-worth and they are able to be successful. To break the cycle and become a giver back to our community. That’s what we all need.”

The cycle was broken in the Richard family, and he gives much of the credit to the Boys and Girls Club.

“What I was able to get from the club was that independence and self-worth,” Richard says. “I never thought growing up I had to be rich. My thought was I don’t want to be poor. I know what poor is. What do I need to do not to be poor? The answer was you need to work, you need to be responsible, you need to have a good work ethic, you need to treat others well and you need to have that vision of goal setting to become successful down the road.”

Richard’s children grew up to be a Major League Baseball player/high school coach, a school principal and a teacher.

He has seen others break the cycle, too, when the club was the only positive thing in their lives. They’ve become businessmen, police officers, teachers and members of the armed forces.

“I really do believe that what we are doing with our programs, our discipline, our structure, our caring, our academic support, is developing those next generations to be the leaders of our community,” Richard says.  ★

BY JILLIAN ELLISON
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Arms stretched forward, face down on a rolled-out floor mat, instructor Betsy Totty asks her yoga class members to take a deep breath and slowly exhale, timing their breathing to match the in’s and out’s. In the studio at Community Yoga, Totty wants the group of a dozen people to take the time to familiarize themselves with their own bodies, the same ones that serve them each day.“Listen to what your body is telling you,” Totty says. “Are you feeling any areas that feel a little tighter today? How have you thanked your body for carrying you through this week?”

Something newcomers to yoga classes don’t often realize is that not only is the hour-long session an exercise of the body, but more importantly it’s an exercise of the mind, says Jacqueline Allen-Magers, owner of Community Yoga in Lafayette. There are physical benefits to yoga, of course, she explains, but the practice of vinyasa yoga – the yoga her studio’s classes focus on — works to calm your nervous system.

“Our lives are very go, go, go, and when your sensory perception is bombarded, that’s when we become overly stimulated,” Allen-Magers says. “Practicing yoga does the opposite. It’s trying to turn your perception inward, calming your nerves, leaving you feeling lighter, both mentally and physically.”

While yoga studios across Greater Lafayette offer different versions of the practice, they are all supportive of each other’s goals: breaking down obstacles that exist around yoga, working to make it an inclusive environment.

Finding your Zen

A quick internet search to find out just how many forms of yoga there are will make your head spin. Courtney Biancofiori, co-owner of Society Yoga, isn’t interested in putting a label on what her studio offers.

“Focusing on a specific type of yoga in the studio, I feel, takes away from the entire Yogi narrative,” Biancofiori says. “It is all yoga, and I want to break down the barriers that hold the average person out on the street back from walking in here, taking some time to destress and sweat a bit and find a sense of belonging.”

Across the Wabash River at HOTWORX, co-owner Megan Wilson says sweating it out won’t take you long. Offering virtually instructed classes in its studios, HOTWORX offers “Hot Yoga,” a 30-minute isometric workout inside a sauna room. “As the infrared heat penetrates your body causing you to sweat, the isometric postures further accelerate detoxification by physically removing the toxins from your organs through muscle contraction,” Wilson explains.

 While they try not to label classes at Society Yoga, Biancofiori and co-owner Kim Barrett say if you’re looking for a class in a style you’re accustomed to at other studios, they can help you find it, and possibly more.

From low intensity up to what Barrett calls a “Society Sculpt” class, classes featuring different equipment offer the opportunity for newcomers to dip their toes into the practice of yoga, which for Biancofiori, boils down to linking our breathing with the body’s movements.

“Everyone’s idea of relaxation is different. Some people might not be able to sit in a meditative pose for a long period of time,” Biancofiori says. “They might find meditation through push-ups. I find my Zen just by sweating it out.”

Bridging people through yoga

For the past seven years, Be Moved Power Yoga has hosted “Yoga On The Bridge” across the John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge, and for owner Anita Trent, watching as people come from the two cities to meet in the middle builds the definition of community for her.

“Our community in Greater Lafayette is so special, because it is one so rich in culture and varying levels of experience,” Trent says. “To watch these people come together from all corners of the world is something I love and look forward to.”

There is always room for growth and improvement, however, Trent says, as she aims to create a more inclusive space for all in her studio. “We are a wonderful and unique group of female teachers, but what I would love in our studio is to see some more diversity in our teaching team,” she explains.

“I am very interested in bringing on more gender diversity as we continue to maintain a friendly, open space. If you’re willing to work hard and you’re willing to sweat, then you’re going to fit in great here.”

Trent says she was introduced to practicing yoga as a child, when her mom would leave early in the morning for work and would turn on PBS, which ran “Lilias, Yoga and You.” Into adulthood, she ran half marathons and played soccer, but after a knee injury put her on the sidelines, a friend who’d become a yoga instructor encouraged her to come to a class to start slowly easing back into fitness. Getting back into the motions of yoga for Trent was like a flood of memories, reinspiring her love for the practice.

That moment of memory and clarity on her yoga mat several years ago is something she hopes to bring to all who walk through her doors, and she knows her colleagues across Greater Lafayette strive for that, too.

“Yoga gives us the tools on how to be really clear about who we are and who we’ve been, but it also helps find clarity in simply loving ourselves and doing good for our bodies,” Trent says. “In yoga, we are working to take the next best step, and here in Greater Lafayette, we have so many amazing people teaching yoga and bringing that good into our community.”  ★

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED

A large number of Tippecanoe County residents cannot remember a time when Caterpillar Inc., wasn’t a major part of Lafayette’s east side landscape. 

The Deerfield, Ill.-based company is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, off-highway diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives.

Caterpillar is celebrating its 40th anniversary in Lafayette, a partnership that Tippecanoe County commissioner Tom Murtaugh says is beneficial to both.

“Caterpillar has played an essential role in the growth of this community and the region,” Murtaugh says. “In addition to creating great employment opportunities for hundreds of families over the past few decades, Caterpillar has been a generous community partner and supporter of the United Way and countless other community initiatives.”

In 2021, employees and the Caterpillar Foundation provided approximately $548,000 through the United Way for their communities, according to Joe Markun, Large Power Systems Operations vice president for Caterpillar Inc. The Caterpillar Foundation also provided grant funding of more than $290,000 to non-profits in 2021.

Additionally, the Lafayette Drive Team – an employee-led advocacy group, makes donations to local sports teams, food banks, scout troops, transitional housing centers, Habitat for Humanity efforts, the YWCA, and other organizations. 

Caterpillar is stepping up its community involvement with a 40 Days of Giving program that launched in early August.

“This is a facility-wide initiative to engage our employees and give back to the communities that have supported us continually over the past four decades,” Markun says. 

“Teams across engineering, supply chain, human resources and more are finding needs in our communities and providing their time and resources to address them. While we have much to celebrate internally with the 40-year milestone, none of this would be possible without our community partners.”

It was big news in 1977 when rumors began to circulate that Caterpillar was interested in building a plant in Lafayette.

Murtaugh’s family played an important role in the plant’s location. His was one of four families who sold a combined 425 acres to Caterpillar in 1977. The deal was so top secret that Murtaugh remembers “company X” buying his family’s farm.

Even after officially announcing the land purchase on Sept. 22, 1977, at the downtown branch of Lafayette National Bank, Caterpillar chairman William L. Naumann had little to say publicly about the decision to bring the manufacturing of its new Series 3500 diesel engines to Tippecanoe County.

That morning, members of those four families — James Murtaugh, Richard Smith, Donald Lecklitner and Paul Hamman — learned who “company X” really was.

Journal & Courier business writer Judy Horak reported that Naumann cited four factors that attracted Caterpillar to Lafayette. First was the site not only being large enough for a Caterpillar facility, but it also had excellent access to I-65, railroad transportation and good utility services.

“We find a strong spirit of community pride and cooperation here,” Naumann said of the second reason. He was just as succinct with the other two factors.

“The quality of local government and community services is excellent. Finally we are attracted by the quality and character of the Lafayette-West Lafayette-Tippecanoe County area.”

While the courtship was completed, it would be five years – November 1982 – before employees began pre-assembly work on parts for the Series 3500 high-powered diesel engine. The first Series 3500 engines were assembled in December 1982.

Tony Roswarski was on the verge of beginning a career in law enforcement 40 years ago. Today, he’s approaching 20 years as mayor of Lafayette.

“Caterpillar has been an important piece of our economic foundation for the past 40 years,” Roswarski says. “Its global presence helps put Lafayette on the worldwide economic map. Closer to home, it creates great paying jobs, pays taxes that help fund the police, fire and parks department along with great schools.

“Caterpillar helps families build their future and have a high quality of life. They have been a wonderful corporate citizen, giving back through the company and its employees. Thousands of people a year enjoy CAT Park, and more now will have the opportunity as the new all-inclusive sports field will be finished soon. Caterpillar truly has made a positive impact on Lafayette over the past 40 years.”

Look no further than these numbers to measure Caterpillar’s impact on Lafayette’s economy. When it announced in early January 1982 that it was taking applications for 40 maintenance positions, the company received approximately 600 resumes. 

As more job openings were posted, Caterpillar’s local post office box overflowed with resumes. More than 3,400, in fact, by March. As Lafayette celebrated the new year 1983, approximately 300 management, salaried and production workers were in place.

Today, Markun says the Lafayette Engine Center machines and assembles diesel and natural gas engines that power the world – the 3500, the 3600 and the C175 engines. 

“When our facility opened, we were developing and manufacturing 3500 engines,” he says. “Over the 40 years, this engine platform grew to be the industry standard for heavy-duty diesel and gas engines worldwide, and we introduced two more platforms – the 3600 and C175. These units are custom-built to ensure our customers get exactly what they need.

“The 3500 engine primarily helps support the electric power, oil and gas, rail and marine markets around the globe. The 3600 is a huge player in the oil and gas segment, and the C175 is largely utilized in mining and electric power applications.” 

These engines power mining trucks carrying ore to be processed, tugboats guiding ships to harbor, drill rigs tapping oil and gas reserves, and generators bringing electricity to communities, hospitals and data centers.

Caterpillar may be celebrating its 40th birthday locally but it also is looking ahead to the next decade. The Lafayette facility will play a key role in Caterpillar’s effort to “integrate sustainability” into its core business.

The company website boasts how Lafayette’s facility is meeting the goal of recycling power into the day-to-day operations.

“When a new engine or component is offered, it is important that we conduct many testing hours on each product to provide confidence to our customers that they are buying the highest quality engine available. 

“The amount of energy created by the testing process is tremendous. Rather than waste it, the team explored various options to harness the energy. Understanding that endurance testing is a necessary and critical means to assure product quality, they looked for a way to use the electricity-generated power to support facility operations which would otherwise have been wasted.”

Caterpillar states that the electricity generated by the endurance test pad provides supplemental energy to power the Lafayette plant. With roughly 130,000 metric tons of CO2e emissions avoided over the last five years, Caterpillar has saved more than $11 million.

“Harnessing the power from their endurance testing is just one example of the Lafayette facility’s sustainability journey. Through their continuous improvement projects, the team has implemented several programs resulting in general reductions in greenhouse gases, water usage and waste.”  ★

BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Need a place to pick up a quick lunch to take to your desk? How about a snack, or groceries for dinner? … Downtown Lafayette is now home to three markets, each with its own personality and niche for the urban shopper. 

Bistro Market & Deli
115 N. Fifth St.

If you’re looking for elegance and a European shopping experience downtown, step into Bistro Market & Deli. The former Lahr atrium has been transformed into an upscale, French-themed market, with wares to match. As a bonus, the space was designed to historically honor the former Lahr Hotel — the current layout mirrors the way space was used more than a century ago, with vintage photos in the foyer as evidence. 

The bodega has a variety of offerings — everything from a coffee bar with bagels (imported from New York City), fresh local produce, a deli counter, refillable oils and vinegars, and international foods. 

The space fills a specific need downtown says Mary Buckley, who, along with her daughters, Theresa and Cheyenne, owns and operates both the market and Bistro 501 next door. Buckley knew that with downtown residency at an all-time high — and with construction looming — the demographic of young urban professionals and empty nesters would welcome a downtown market. So the three went to work to determine how to make such an idea a success. 

“There’s a difference between a dream and business,” Buckley says. “What does the area need and what do you know?”

The pandemic interrupted their plans to expand into the atrium, but it also gave them a chance to plan with great intention. They were able to carefully survey the space and look for exactly the right layout, along with finding appropriate furniture and fixtures. 

The result is a charmingly customized space, with walls in Cape Cod blue, an elaborate iron entry gate (also locally crafted), and an eclectic feel. 

But it’s more than just a market — it’s a place to visit, to relax. There is a seating area upstairs — where hotel guests would have sat a century ago — and down, so patrons may sit and sip their coffee and eat their sandwich or salad, using the WiFi. There is a table to play checkers and an area to read the newspaper. 

The vibe is friendly and inviting — even dogs are welcome. Customers can find groceries to cook their own meals, or they can pick up sandwiches or pre-prepared dinner for two. You can find products for a gift box, with fun and quirky items available — everything from toys for children to sauces to charcuterie boards — or even cleaning supplies from the Broom Closet. 

The Buckleys have a commitment to excellence and to supporting small business. As a women-owned and operated business, it works with local vendors and with other small businesses. 

The market can be a bit overwhelming, Buckley says, as it does not use traditional overhead signage. So, she says, patrons should ask an associate if they need assistance finding anything. Parking can be a challenge, she knows, but if customers park in the city parking garage, the market will refund the parking fee and offers curbside pickup — do your shopping, leave your cart, go get your car, and come back for valet grocery service. 

The market is open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. every day but Tuesday, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays. Mondays are market days, with special sales. And if you don’t see what you want, the market can get it for you in 72 hours. 

Buckley says the market’s business is booming, and she is pleased with the role they can play downtown. 

“We really took a page from the past and brought it into the present, hoping for a successful future.”

Rose Market
Specialty Food Market & Apothecary
816 Main St.

If you’re shopping downtown with dietary needs, look no further than Rose Market. 

Owner Tracy Deno says the first mission of the market was to be a haven for people who need allergen-friendly foods. But it has expanded to also feature items that are non-GMO and organic. It has a large selection of gluten-free foods — for the gluten intolerant crowd, shopping can be difficult, as gluten can be a hidden ingredient in so many foods — even in places that seem unlikely. 

Rose Market fills that niche. It offers a wide variety of healthy, tasty foods.

“We try to focus on the ingredients,” Deno says. “We don’t like a lot of junk.”

She even offers gluten-free and vegan donuts, which have been a big hit. (See story on Page 48.) People are surprised to find formerly unsafe foods available to them. 

“We’ve had people get emotional,” Deno says.

Rose Market is committed to being environmentally friendly. It offers sustainable cleaning products, which can be refilled. And it is committed to maintaining health without an abundance of chemicals, so the market sells personal care and wellness items that are natural as well. 

 

Friendly Market
400 Main St.

Friendly Market, the newest arrival on the downtown scene, is a basic convenience store, offering its patrons quick snacks, drinks and amenities. 

The store, at the corner of Fourth and Main, has a full offering of candy, snacks and beverages. If you’re looking to grab a quick drink, this is your stop. It has a full soda fountain as well as canned beverages of all types.

Food offerings are limited, but Friendly Market does have some canned and frozen foods. It also carries an assortment of cleaning items and household necessities. 

Coffee is available, as is a space in which to drink it — a small seating area in the front of the store offers newspapers and a view of Main Street. It’s the perfect place to sit, sip coffee and read the news of the day.  ★

BY RADONNA FIORINI

While there is nothing resembling a mountain in Tippecanoe County, there is a growing group of local mountain bike enthusiasts who are creating and maintaining trails and opportunities to participate in the sport they love.

The sport of riding bicycles off-road, on trails and rough terrain, has gained in popularity during the last 30 years and is something people of all ages can enjoy, says Jason Pruitt, president of the Tippecanoe Mountain Bike Association. 

Pruitt has enjoyed biking for decades, starting out with road bikes and riding competitively in endurance races. But when he began mountain biking, things changed.

“Once I got out in the woods, I thought, ‘This is so much better, just being in the woods and in nature. I love riding with friends, but sometimes just riding alone in nature is great.’” 

After he and a group of mountain biking enthusiasts found each other more than a decade ago, they began working together to help maintain the mixed-use trails they all used, and help educate people about protecting nature while enjoying the sport they love, he says.

Out of that effort, the TMBA was formed, and members have enjoyed biking and working together to create and maintain a robust series of area bike-accessible trails. There are now 26 miles of trails in Tippecanoe County that feature a variety of difficulty levels and are on public and private land accessible to the public. 

The first bike trail the group focused on is at the Tippecanoe County Amphitheater. The trail system there was created for the Harrison High School cross-country team, but many other hikers and bikers have enjoyed those trails for years, says Tippecanoe County Parks Superintendent Randy Lower. 

“At first we wanted the mountain bike trails to parallel the running trails and not connect, because we didn’t want collisions between bikers and runners,” Lower says. “But that hasn’t been a problem and the biking trails now utilize and crisscross the cross-country trails. We haven’t heard about much interaction between bikers, hikers and runners.”

The Amphitheater trails are geared for novice riders, although some areas are a bit challenging, he says. There are two sections of trails and even a kid’s loop that is smoother and shorter so young riders can get a feel for the terrain.

There are many possible mountain bike features, but the basic requirement is a bike with a suspension system to soften the jolt of riding over roots and rocks, and a sturdy frame that can take the impact of rough terrain, says Garrett Wass, bike mechanic at Virtuous Cycles in downtown Lafayette. 

Wider tires with heavy-duty tread take the bumps better than narrow road bike tires. Working with a professional to determine the best kind of suspension, tires and brakes for the terrain you want to traverse will make your rides more enjoyable, he says.

On a recent June evening, more than 20 TMBA members gathered at the Amphitheater for a weekly ride. The group meets each Wednesday during the warmer months at different trails to ride, practice needed skills and receive updates on upcoming work sessions that keep the area trails in good shape, says Pruitt. 

The group was made up of bikers of all ages and experience levels, including Owen Broadstreet, a 14-year-old student from Delphi. His father introduced Owen to the sport when he was 10, and he rides regularly with TMBA. 

“This group is really inclusive,” says Broadstreet. “You just show up and you’re in.” 

Claire Stirm, who handles events and outreach for TMBA, has been riding for two years, after her husband introduced her to mountain biking. The couple rides together about three times a week, and she particularly enjoys the Wednesday TMBA rides and helping new or inexperienced riders feel comfortable.

The riders split up into groups that start down the trails at staggered times. The fastest, more experienced riders go first, but Stirm often rides with the last group, which is affectionately called the “party pace.” This group may stop to go over techniques needed for certain trail features, and members are happy to wait for slower riders so everyone feels included. 

Seth Aichinger, who has been riding mountain bikes for more than 20 years, says being part of TMBA has been life changing. He calls the members “super supportive and friendly” and he appreciates the educational elements that are included on rides. 

“There’s always room for improvement and the trails are always changing, so you have to pay attention,” he says. “It’s such an adrenaline rush and the Wednesday group rides are awesome.”

While the Amphitheater trails are a great place to learn the sport, more experienced riders are partial to the trails at Hoffman Nature Area. The six miles of trails in this heavily wooded area off old Indiana 25 west of Americus were cleared and specifically designed for mountain biking by TMBA members. The county parks department oversees the property. It’s a favorite spot for Wass, from the bike shop. 

“Hoffman is the best,” Wass says. “It has more advanced features than some of the other trails and was built by mountain bikers, for mountain bikers.”

The Hoffman trail is a loop, and certain features are labeled so bikers can choose to go over the feature, such as a log or steep rock incline, or around it on a separate path, Wass says. In fact, labels have been added to several of the TMBA-maintained trails so bikers can make informed choices as they ride.

Parks Superintendent Lower concurs that the Hoffman trail is popular with more experienced riders, adding that the construction and maintenance of those trails, and others,  would not be possible without the work of the TMBA.

“They are always looking to expand and improve the trails,” he says of Pruitt and other members. “We wouldn’t be able to maintain all the trails because we just don’t have the manpower. And some of them run close to the river and creeks, which means the trails change because of erosion. (TMBA members) are out there rerouting them, improving and expanding them.”

When the group first formed, it focused on just keeping the existing trails clear of fallen branches and deadwood, says Pruitt.  Now the group meets many Saturdays to clear trails, cut back invasive species, pull weeds and break out new trails. 

Another challenging area is the Haan Trail, located off State Street near downtown Lafayette behind the Haan Museum of Indiana Art. A separate, lower section is accessed from Valley Street. Bob and Ellie Haan owned the property and lived in the mansion on the grounds when they became interested in mountain biking after making a trip out west in 1998. 

“We got interested in it on that trip and realized it was a skill sport, not an endurance sport,” says Bob Haan. “We came home and started building a trail behind the house so we could learn the skills needed for mountain biking.”

The Haans worked on the trails for about a decade, creating such features as benched areas, bridges, ramps and whoop-de-dos, along with 45-degree drops in the advanced sections. During that time, they made lots of friends in the mountain biking community and in 2011, opened the trails to the public. TMBA has since taken over maintenance of the trails that are connected through Valley Street. The Haans, both in their 70s, continue to enjoy mountain biking and the community that surrounds the sport. 

The TMBA also maintains the Murdock Park Trail, owned by the city of Lafayette, and McCormick Woods Trails, just west of the Purdue campus in West Lafayette. Two years ago, the local group was the first state-wide to join the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association, which advocates for the creation of trails in Indiana and natural resource protection. 

One of the goals of TMBA is to find ways to connect the different county trail systems so riders can easily get from one to another. The group also is working with such organizations as the Girl Scouts to teach mountain biking skills and safety, and recruit others to help with trail upkeep.  ★

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS
PHOTOS PROVIDED

When Retail Therapy owner Alicia Dunbar heard about an upscale shopping district near Indianapolis offering a ladies’ night out promotion with branded shopping bags, she had an idea: What if she and her Greater Lafayette colleagues did something similar, and what if they created reusable bags to dually promote the event and create a more eco-friendly buying experience?

Last July, Dunbar co-launched Girls Gone Local, which takes place the second Thursday of every month. For $10, women can purchase an exclusive tote to carry as they sip, shop and stroll through downtown Lafayette in early evening, at a time when smaller retailers typically are closed.  

Instead of getting multiple bags from multiple stores staying open late just for them, women can place all purchases in a single bag. Along the way, they can participate in seasonal experiences, like assembling a bouquet of flowers from various shops or posing for a photo with the Easter Bunny. 

The promotional events target a desirable retail demographic: busy women for whom a night out with friends is a rare opportunity. It’s a win-win for local businesses and buyers with a lot of purchasing power. 

“We tend to not make time for ourselves,” Dunbar says of women. “We always say ‘Let’s get together soon,’ but we never do it.” Girls Gone Local is something that friends can plan for month after month, she adds – without having to do any of the planning. 

Now entering its second year, the event is drawing not only Greater Lafayette residents but also out-of-towners looking for a destination shopping experience. 

It’s also attracted some unexpected vendors, such as a chiropractor, a law firm and a dental practice. During April’s gathering, the urban-chic Downtown Dental opened its doors to showcase a waiting room gallery of sunflower photos and offer each woman a single stem to add to her spring bouquet.

To help support local women-owned businesses without a storefront, many participating shops offer pop-up space for selling products such as crepes, popcorn, leather goods and cookies. Restaurants and bars offer specials, too, such as a free treat along with a cocktail. 

For up-to-date information on specific businesses that will be open these months, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/retailtherapy1005
https://www.facebook.com/hellodowntownlafayette
https://www.facebook.com/GGLLafayette. 

BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

The Lafayette Life Insurance building on the corner of Teal Road and 18th Street in Lafayette has been transformed. The building, vacant since 2011, now houses a modern center for learning, for exploring. Students from all area high schools get career training that will prepare them for either postsecondary education or to enter the workforce. 

The idea for a career academy was the inspiration of area school superintendents. Les Huddle, Lafayette School Corp. superintendent, took a look one day at the building, which sits conveniently across the street from Jefferson High School, and had an idea. So he made phone calls to Rocky Killion and Scott Hanback, his counterparts in West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County respectively, to discuss the potential for that property and what it might do for students. 

“The original vision was for the three school corporations to partner together and build a facility that would serve the students from all three corporations,” says Huddle. 

And the Greater Lafayette Career Academy was born. It provides opportunities for students in their junior and senior years to seek training and certification in a variety of areas, all of which will help prepare them for their future, says Miranda Hutcheson, director, Career Technical Education at GLCA.

The vison grew, with partnerships from Ivy Tech, Purdue University and area industry. 

“Once GLCA entered into a design stage, the partnership was expanded to include others as [Greater Lafayette Commerce], Ivy Tech and local businesses and manufacturers,” Huddle says. “This inclusive model provided the design team with the ability to match the students’ needs with the community needs. The result of the multiple partnerships resulted in a quality facility that offers quality career pathways for students in our county to explore and succeed in.”

The courses vary in their offerings, their style, and their ultimate goals. In some cases, the courses are more introductory, giving students an idea of what to expect in certain fields, helping them decide if they want to continue in that career path. In other programs, students will leave with a certification or dual credit. 

As a public school building, the Career Academy is held to those same requirements as the home schools, Hutcheson says. Students with an Individualized Education Plan or who need classroom accommodations will receive any assistance they require.  

The fully remodeled building boasts 65,000 square feet of space — about 20,000 square feet were added to house the construction, automotive and manufacturing spaces. The result of the $30 million project is state-of-the art classrooms, labs and workspace, all of which help students achieve their goals of workforce preparedness. 

Students who enroll at the GLCA remain enrolled at their home schools. They will take courses on that campus in the morning and then move to the GLCA for the afternoon session. Students drive themselves or, in some cases, transportation is provided. 

The programs offered are designed to help students prepare for the future. Current offerings may include automotive services, aviation operations and flight, aviation maintenance, computer science, construction trades, cosmetology, criminal justice, culinary arts and hospitality, education careers, emergency medical technician, engineering design and development, fire and rescue, manufacturing, medical assistant, networking and cybersecurity, precision agriculture, pre-nursing (CNA), radio/TV, and welding. 

Program offerings will vary. And not all programs are offered every year, Hutcheson says. They will differ based on student enrollment and staffing. 

Purdue has been a partner in some programming, and industry partners have already stepped up; some are offering incentives — which can include guaranteed job interviews, increased base pay and signing bonuses — to students who complete the Governor’s Work Ethic Certificate, a statewide competency-based program that rates competency in categories such as persistence, respectfulness, initiative, dependability, efficiency, academic readiness and discipline. 

Because the courses are so different, the work in each varies. Much of it is hands-on — students in culinary arts work in a test kitchen, while students in the automotive program work on cars. 

And the result, at the end of the year, is that some students take their skills to actual customers. In construction, the students build — and sell — playhouses. In the culinary program, the group opened and operated a lunch bistro for three weeks. 

Not to mention fun perks for students: When it was time to test out auto detailing, students got to bring in their own cars for that custom service. 

Each Friday is Life Skills Friday. Students have a chance to rotate through all he programs, seeing what each offers, learning skills and touring the building. Each program will offer a different activity — students learned about personal finance, how to hang a picture, and how to change a tire. 

Most instructors bring some real-life experience to the role. Lafayette Police Department officers help teach the criminal justice classes, for example. But there can be challenges for instructors in this environment, Hutcheson says. In a new facility with a new program, they may be the only instructor in that area, without any colleagues to directly work with. Thus, she says, the administration works to help provide resources and networking, such as the statewide conference it hosted in the spring. Because, Hutcheson says, she knows the instructors want to bring the best they can to these students. 

“They are committed to education,” Hutcheson says. “Most of them have industry experience. Their knowledge is invaluable to these students.”

Goals for the students will vary, Hutcheson says. Some will gain enough knowledge or earn a certification that will allow them to find employment in their field after high school graduation. Other students will go on to seek a two or four-year degree. And some students, having tried out a program, will determine that it is not the best fit and move in a different direction. Which, she says, are all successful outcomes. 

Because, she says, there is a bit of a misconception about the students who attend GLCA. It is not a repository for students who lack motivation or drive; it’s quite the opposite. 

“We serve all students who are interested in a career, with all abilities and all interests,” she says. “Kids choose to be here. The programs are competitive. They know that to be here is a privilege and not a right.” 

Enrollment continues to increase; Hutcheson is seeing a 50 to 70 percent increase each semester. The facility is designed to house about 950 students, but Hutcheson says they can be flexible and creative, using sone offsite locations. 

The goal is to help all students find their passion — whatever it may be. But it is, Hutcheson says, about the whole student. This is a place where they can spend some time figuring out and exploring who they want to be as they move into their postgraduate life.

“It’s a safe space to transition to adulthood,” she says. And in the halls of the GLCA, there are no limits.

“Now that the GLCA has been operating for several years and the pandemic has slowed, we are seeing more and more students enrolling in a variety of career pathways,” Huddle says. “Many of the GLCA students will continue on to some form of higher education, and many will leave the GLCA with skills that will allow them to enter the local workforce.”

And, Huddle says, it has truly been a boon to the entire area. 

 “The GLCA success is due to the local school corporations and our community partnering together to provide a unique educational opportunity for all of our students,” he says. “With the school and community partnering together, the GLCA can now be looked upon as a valuable community resource for our entire county.”

The students, though, truly benefit, and they say it best. Harrison student Elijah Froiland shared his thoughts in a Tweet in February 2021:

“Choosing to go to the GLCA has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The instructors are extremely kind and you can tell that they really want you to succeed. This has really made my senior year special.”  ★

For more information, go to: glcareeracademy.com

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

BizTown buzzes with activity as middle schoolers engage in an experiential learning program that allows them to run community businesses, receive paychecks, conduct bank transactions and purchase goods and services. The daylong visit to Junior Achievement’s interactive, simulated community is the culmination of an integrated teacher-led curriculum that teaches financial literacy and work and career readiness.

“It’s an opportunity for students to model good citizenship in addition to learning about personal budgeting, managing a business and exploring career paths,” says Resa Hodnett, capstone manager at Greater Lafayette JA. “Prior to arriving at BizTown, the students have learned about business operating expenses, how payroll works, how to manage their credit and their checkbook, and they’ve applied for a job. Arriving at BizTown is like their first day on the job.” 

Storefronts lining the mini Main Street, located inside the James Kirby Risk Family Junior Achievement Learning Center at the Lafayette Family YMCA, bear signage of area companies that sponsor the program including Kirby Risk, Purdue Federal Credit Union, Arconic, Wabash National, IU Health Arnett, State Farm and Freckles Graphics. 

Each branded storefront represents its respective company, so a medical facility is designed differently than an insurance office. The students are assigned specific roles within each company (e.g., CEO, CFO, designer, engineer, sales associate, clerk) and work together as a team to run the business. Community volunteers, including some from the respective sponsor businesses, coach students throughout the day. 

“BizTown is an opportunity for our partner businesses to build their workforce pipeline over time,” Hodnett says. “These students are getting their first look at the types of jobs available within their community. Sponsorship support enables JA to deliver our Indiana State Board of Education-approved programming free to the schools. Teachers can have confidence that the content correlates to the core curriculum and students learn they can stay in their community and have a really fun job.” 

The space is dual-purpose, serving as BizTown for fifth and sixth graders and as Finance Park for lder students, highlighting some different sponsor businesses. When seventh through ninth graders visit Finance Park, each student is assigned a persona with a specific job tied to an annual salary and other varying factors, such as a spouse or partner, children, credit card debt or education debt. The students learn more in-depth finance skills, such as making a monthly budget, understanding their debt-to-income ratio and applying for credit.

“We make the students save at least 2 percent of their net monthly income, which for some of them can be a challenge,” Hodnett says. “They start talking about jobs in different industries and average salaries for different positions. It’s a great time for them to start thinking about career pathways. The job they want might require a college degree or perhaps they’d rather go into the trades. Experiencing Finance Park helps start those conversations.” 

While students might pass by these businesses every day in town, they often don’t understand all the various positions necessary to run a successful business. They may think a manufacturing facility only offers jobs in manufacturing or only doctors and nurses work in health care. The BizTown and Finance Park simulations demonstrate the range of positions offered within a single company. 

“When students pass by a manufacturing facility, we want them to understand there are marketing, human resources, administrative and quality control jobs within those walls,” says Jen Edwards, executive director of Greater Lafayette JA. “We’re trying to help students understand that if they want to be a nurse, they don’t necessarily have to work in a hospital. They could work at a school, a small family practice or even a manufacturing facility. We want them to understand all the different potential pathways there are with different types of employers.”  

JA is an international nonprofit founded in 1919 in Springfield, Massachusetts. J. Kirby Risk championed bringing JA to Greater Lafayette in 1956. The organization provides free supplemental K-12 programming that focuses on entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy. The in-school programming is delivered by community volunteers who are recruited and trained by JA. During the 2020-2021 school year, nearly 500 Greater Lafayette JA volunteers served more than 7,000 students in six different school corporations.      

“Each program builds off one another,” Edwards says. “In JA Ourselves, kindergarteners learn about individual choices, the importance of saving and giving and how they contribute to their family. JA Our Families for first graders explores family members’ jobs and contributions to the well-being of the family and the community. In JA Community, second graders learn about other jobs and businesses in the community, paying taxes and how voting works.”

Through its programming, JA empowers young people to own their future economic success by enhancing the relevancy of education. The business concepts covered in JA prepare students for economically independent futures based on strong economic knowledge and solid personal financial management skills. A 2016 survey found that when compared to the general public, JA alumni have higher levels of educational attainment, career satisfaction, financial capability, entrepreneurial activity and household income. 

“I truly believe we are making an impact on these students and preparing them for their future,” Edwards says. “We are fortunate to have sponsorship support from our community partners who work alongside us to develop this next generation of community leaders.”  ★ 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Volunteer for JA 
Contact the JA office at 765-313-9586 or email Jen Edwards at jen.edwards@ja.org

Restaurant sponsor needed
JA is actively searching for a local business to sponsor the restaurant space for BizTown and Finance Park. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, contact Jen Edwards at jen.edwards@ja.org 

Book the space
The JA facility is available to host community events, corporate trainings and small conferences. The space is free to use and is equipped with A/V technology. Contact Jen Edwards at jen.edwards@ja.org to learn more.

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

[ INVESTING IN THE FUTURE WORKFORCE ]

Arconic Foundation, the philanthropic arm of one of the largest manufacturing companies in the region, invests in skill-building learning experiences that enhance individual opportunity, specifically within STEM education and manufacturing workforce development. 

One initiative the foundation supports is Manufacturing Month, held in October. The interactive online portal launched by Greater Lafayette Commerce (GLC) teaches K-12 students about manufacturing and the wealth of career options available to them in the manufacturing sector. 

The virtual experience complements Manufacturing Week, which includes in-person workshops, an expo at the Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds and tours of local manufacturing facilities, all geared to educate K-12 students about the vast opportunities and career pathways available to them. 

“Arconic is a big supporter of Manufacturing Week,” says Scott Greeson, community advocate for the Arconic Foundation. “A number of years ago, the manufacturing industry began to see a shortage in the number of skilled workers. GLC and the mayor’s office wanted to develop a program to educate youth about careers in manufacturing, and Arconic jumped on board right away. Not only supporting Manufacturing Week but providing funding to convert those resources to an online format that instructors can access and integrate into their curriculum.”  

Greeson held a number of jobs at Arconic before retiring in 2018 as a tool and die design engineer and transitioning to his role as community advocate for the foundation. 

“I am very passionate about getting kids to realize that manufacturing is a respectable career path,” Greeson says, “that it is a good way to earn a living for your family, support your community as well as the entire state. With a little bit of planning, you can launch your career right out of high school and make an outstanding income from the get-go.”

Greater Lafayette Career Academy received funding from Arconic Foundation to outfit its makerspace, and the Lafayette Crossing School of Business and Entrepreneurship based in the Northend Community Center used grant money to furnish a computer lab.

“It’s not just about igniting a spark that leads someone to a career in manufacturing,” Greeson says. “It’s allowing kids to have access to the skills they need at the earliest possible age. Helping them to understand that they can use their hands and mind to create and build things that will make a difference in their community.”     

[ PREVENTING YOUTH SUICIDE ]

In December 2021, North Central Health Services (NCHS) announced its commitment of more than $1.1 million in Preventing Youth Suicide grants and support to 12 school corporations throughout North Central Indiana. The grants will support schools in six counties launching evidence-based youth suicide prevention programs, reaching an anticipated 35,000 students by the 2024 school year. 

“The schools will be working with an entity called Education Development Center (EDC), a global nonprofit that advances lasting solutions to improve education, promote health and expand economic opportunity,” says Stephanie Long, president and CEO of NCHS. “EDC is a national leader in the field of social and emotional learning, mental health and suicide prevention.” 

In addition to grant funding for the program, participating school and district teams will receive support from EDC on how to integrate mental health within their education systems as well as technical assistance to provide schools with training and systems support to build robust evidence-based suicide prevention efforts. The program has six key components:

  • Written protocols for helping students at risk of suicide
  • Written protocols for response after a suicide
  • Developing community partnerships to ensure students receive necessary support and services. 
  • Identification of youth at-risk for suicide
  • Promoting protective factors that enhance students’ well-being
  • Engaging key stakeholders, including parents and school leadership, in suicide prevention messaging, planning and training. 

According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death for ages 10 to 24 in Indiana and the second leading cause of death for ages 25 to 35. Centers for Disease Control data indicate that Indiana suicide rates have increased along with suicidal ideation for youth 10 to 24. 

“We looked at not only national data, but Indiana data and some local data from our schools indicating that students have felt extra stress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Long says. “Our community needs health assessment completed in 2021 identified mental wellness as an area that could use some impact.” 

The Preventing Youth Suicide grants expand on work many of the schools have done to implement social-emotional competency, drug resistance and mental well-being curriculums. Coupled with the Resilient Youth Initiative grants, NCHS has granted more than $7.3 million back into community schools to support their efforts to maintain a protective culture for children and youth. 

“We’ve got excellent schools and educators in our community who are always striving to grow what they are doing,” Long says. “The Preventing Youth Suicide grants are an opportunity to provide them with necessary funding to support their work and connect them with experts in the mental health field.” 

[ EXPANDING ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY ] 

Students throughout the region have benefited from a three-year e-learning project that Wabash Heartland Innovation Network (WHIN) launched in November 2020. Coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic when many students were learning from home, the project has improved internet access in homes across WHIN’s 10-county service region to enhance e-learning opportunities. 

“WHIN allocated $5 million from our Regional Cultivation Fund (RCF) to enhance e-learning throughout the region,” says Pat Corey, vice president of engagement for WHIN. “Thus far, we’ve awarded more than $1.3 million in grants, impacting about 27,000 students. And we expect to fund a whole lot more.”

Established five years ago through a nearly $40 million grant from Lilly Endowment, WHIN is a consortium of 10 counties in north-central Indiana (Benton, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Fountain, Montgomery, Pulaski, Tippecanoe, Warren and White) leading the adoption of digital technology with the aim of becoming the first recognized smart region in the nation. 

“WHIN’s 10 counties form a living laboratory for advanced technology,” Corey says. “It’s a unique organization. There’s no other 501(c)(3) in the country that has accepted the challenge of accelerating digitalization. Indiana has a 20 percent gap in productivity in its advanced industry sector, and the country as a whole has an 80 percent gap in productivity in its agriculture sector. Closing those gaps is what’s going to keep Indiana competitive.”

Community Schools of Frankfort were awarded $157,000 from the RCF in February to equip school buses with hotspots, add hotspots to outdoor learning areas and help students with MiFi devices at home. 

A $10,000 grant to Frontier School Corporation turned FFA land plots managed by partner school districts into digital agriculture testbeds and living labs for students, area farmers and ag businesses to experiment with data collection in practice. 

MSD of Warren County School Corporation received a $105,000 planning grant to create a Department of Education-approved, dual-credit precision agriculture course and externship program for high school juniors and seniors. The curriculum will be made available to all WHIN school districts. 

Another grant in the works at Benton Central Jr.-Sr. High School will develop coursework in sensor-based technologies to get students excited about careers in data. Once the pilot career builder program is complete, all the school corporations in the region will have access to the new resource for their students. 

“Students don’t realize that the world of big data is here, and they need to be ready for it,” Corey says.  ★

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic made working from home mandatory for many workers, the concept of coworking spaces was beginning to take root.

The cofounders of MatchBOX Coworking Studio – Jason Tennenhouse, Dennis Carson and Mikel Berger – saw a need for a professional space for early stage entrepreneurs, according to Amanda Findlay, managing director of MatchBOX.

“The cofounders … were inspired to bring a coworking space to Lafayette because of their own involvement and interests in local entrepreneurship,” Findlay says. “The coworking model is loosely based on the concept of hackerspaces, or shared, community-run spaces for tinkering and tech.”

MatchBOX, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was ahead of its time in Indiana. Findlay says the concept of shared and community-focused workspaces started to emerge in larger cities during the late 2000s.

“Even before the recent and necessary rise in remote work, MatchBOX saw a need … founders growing their businesses, freelancers and contractors operating in the gig economy, and anyone dissatisfied with their home office.”

Breanna Benn, whose responsibilities as client relations and facilities support manager include The Purdue Railyard coworking space, has heard the dissatisfaction stories from some of its clients.

“They’ve worked from home, they’ve got small children and that’s been a distraction while they’re home,” Benn says. “They are coming to The Railyard for a place to go to concentrate and get out of their home.”

Both MatchBOX and The Railyard occupy large buildings. MatchBOX is located in downtown Lafayette and occupies a 12,000-square-foot space that once belonged to a car dealership. The Railyard’s site – inside Herman and Heddy Kurz Purdue Technology Center — is 26,140 square feet, which Purdue boasts is one of the largest single coworking spaces in the United States.


Each coworking space offers convincing arguments to lure potential clients.

“As an extroverted armchair anthropologist, I find community to be the most compelling value of a coworking space,” Findlay says. “Entrepreneurs, freelancers and remote workers are all susceptible to professional loneliness. Research has shown that a sense of belonging is a fundamental human need, and having ‘work friends’ has a positive impact on professional happiness, motivation and productivity. For someone without an office full of colleagues, there are few opportunities to build friendships in the workspace outside of coworking.”

Findlay adds that a coworking membership is much less expensive than rent for a private office. Access to shared resources such as printers, meeting rooms and fast, reliable WiFi are benefits included in MatchBOX’s membership. So is a coffee bar, phone booths and a reserved desk area. There’s also free access to the MatchBOX Makerspace and acceleration programs for members. 

The Railyard’s amenities include a café, a mailbox and a business address at the Research Park. 

“Being a member of The Railyard you also have access to our networking events,” Benn says. “We just started up a network event called ‘The Mix.’ We invite, essentially, anybody who wants to come. It’s a good opportunity for startup companies, entrepreneurs to really network with people in their industry.

Findlay says the most popular service MatchBOX provides is meeting rooms. 

“For professionals interacting with clients face-to-face, the meeting rooms are a standout resource,” she says. “Renting rooms as needed or meeting in coffee shops or other public spaces can be expensive or distracting. Our members enjoy access to spaces that are accessible but professional to host and facilitate meetings. 

“For entrepreneurs starting or growing businesses, our office hours program has proven helpful in getting more complex questions answered, especially for the first-time entrepreneurs who are still learning the ropes.” 

Now that Greater Lafayette is moving out of the pandemic, Findlay believes MatchBOX will continue to grow.

“There will always be jobs that are more or less amenable to remote work,” Findlay says. “I think that the infrastructure for remote work was already decent and has recently been improved out of necessity. In-person or on-site work perhaps is no longer the default or assumed way that employees will get their jobs done.”

Another side effect of the pandemic was people coming to the decision that maybe their current job isn’t satisfying or paying enough to continue.

“One exciting potential outcome for MatchBOX and Greater Lafayette is that we might start to see that a person changing their career or employer won’t necessarily need to relocate and build an entirely new network,” Findlay says. “We’ve had several MatchBOX members change jobs while working in the studio, and their new employer is on the other side of the country, but their office and their routine and their ‘work friend’ circle all stayed the same. It’s a much less disruptive experience that allows people to detach the town they live in from the location of their employer and stay in a community they love while growing professionally.”

Membership numbers are beginning to grow at The Railyard, approaching 100.

“Before the pandemic we were probably within the 80s,” Benn says. “It hasn’t grown to a huge increase quite yet, but everybody I’ve talked to wants this for the same reasons, so we believe we’re going to grow even more.

“I’m planning to have more events and more networking opportunities. A lot of people are looking for that now. They’ve been in their houses and haven’t met new people. We’re just trying to come up with new ways to have people interact with one another.”

The Railyard has something else in common with MatchBOX, a tie to transportation. 

There’s a homage to the Purdue Schenectady No. 1, the first full-scale locomotive used in the Purdue Locomotive Testing Plant in the late 1880s and early 1900s. 

The Railyard boasts antique railroad memorabilia as well.

“It’s funny that a lot of people don’t know the whole story,” Benn says. “It is interesting to a lot of people.”

MatchBOX isn’t just a home for business professionals. It also appeals to artists, creative writers, podcast hosts, gamers and cosplayers.

“We’re definitely here for the hobbyists,” Findlay says. “For the makerspace specifically, the cosplay and gamer crowd enjoys building props for their costumes or game play. Custom mini-figures and carrying cases seem to be popular in the boardgaming community.”

MatchBOX also provides scholarship opportunities and programming in place to support early stage entrepreneurs and members of the Greater Lafayette community, Findlay says.  ★

To find out more about MatchBOX, visit its website at mbx.studio or call 765.588.9295. 
To learn more about The Purdue Railyard or to become a member, contact Breanna Benn at 765.588.3470 or email PurdueRailyard@prf.org

BY CINDY GERLACH

If you are hoping to sell your house, good news: It’s a great time to put your house on the market. But if you’re a first-time home buyer, be prepared. It might be tough for you to get your offer accepted in a tight market.

Properties that are priced in that “sweet spot” — properly priced and in reasonable condition — are seeing single-digit days on the market and multiple offers, says Charlie Shook, broker and co-owner of Coldwell Banker Shook. Right now, that “sweet” price is from $150,000 to $350,000. Prices that might have once been considered fairly expensive are now seen as the norm. It’s a reflection of the economy, of supply and demand.

“It sounds exciting, but it’s really just a reaction to the economy,” Shook says. “Brokers don’t want that. It makes prices go up. There are more buyers than product.”

Inventory in Tippecanoe County is at historic lows, says Stacy Grove, a broker and owner of the Russell Company. On one day in early March, active listings for single-family houses were at 67. But when filtered for those that had offers, that number dropped to 46. Of those listings, 12 were in West Lafayette. The prices ranged from $79,900 to $1.5 million. And of those 46, only 19 listings were under $300,000.

“People don’t understand the crisis that is our inventory shortage,” Grove says. “We just don’t have the new construction to back up the inventory demand.”

For sellers, this means a potential profit. People used to have to hold onto a house for several years before they could see making any money with a sale; now, Grove says, properties can appreciate up to 1 percent a month; one need only own their home for a short time before they can recoup their costs and see a return. 

For those trying to buy their first home, the process might be an arduous one. Most listings for houses under $300,000 are seeing multiple offers, many above the asking price. 

“We’re seeing multiple offers over the list price,” says Grove. “The list price used to be our ceiling, now it’s our floor.”

Buyers are waiving inspections and writing offers without contingencies. Some buyers are able to write cash offers, getting temporary loans to avoid financing. And they are adding what is known as an escalation clause, offering to beat the best offer up to a certain amount. 

“It’s a valid strategy,” says Shook. “Those intangibles are becoming more and more popular.”

And when prices are not reflecting the appraisal, buyers are offering to pay the difference in the appraisal gap, says Grove, essentially taking an advance on their equity. 

“It’s the Wild West out here,” Grove says. “It is crazy.”

Thus it’s a great time to sell your house — if, that is, you have someplace to go. Because the story for buyers, especially first-time buyers, is not so rosy. 

Getting your offer accepted may be a path fraught with disappointment and frustration.

But even though it seems abnormal, some buyers are seeing their offers accepted. One just has to be ready and prepared to make an offer — there probably isn’t a lot of time to consider your options. Look at a house and be ready to act immediately. Write your best offer. And be prepared for little to no negotiating. 

The best advice for a buyer? Use an agent, says Markus Jamison, team leader at Keller Williams.

“If you’re just googling properties, by the time you get on there, it probably already has an offer. And get prequalified.”

It is, Shook says, a great time to invest in real estate. The uptick in prices certainly is evident. In 2019, 40 homes in Tippecanoe County sold for more than $500,000; in 2021, that number was 116. For homes in the $400,000-500,000 range, 2021 saw 136 sales, compared to 82 in 2019.

“Our market has been undervalued for years,” Shook says. “My gut feeling is people are feeling more confident about investing in real estate.”

People who think they may build a house instead are likely in for a surprise — and a wait. With supply chain issues, materials are more expensive. The estimate to build a ranch house, on a slab, is around $450,000, Grove says. Add a basement, and the price jumps to $650,000.

With interest rates predicted to go up in the coming months, the market could change. But it may not be to a buyer’s advantage, says Grove. 

“At some point, with inflation going up, people will be spending more on necessities,” she says. “At some point, they won’t have the money for a mortgage they once did. The buyer pool will shrink because they won’t have the liquidity they once did.”

Jamison says it’s anyone’s guess what will happen. But with rates at historic lows, buyers could still be in a good position. 

“That’s the plus side,” he says. “In the long run, you’re not paying as much. It’s a tug-of-war, and we don’t know where it’s going.”

Shook encourages buyers to not get too frustrated. It may take some time, but your dream house is out there. He projects that 2022 will look a lot like 2021 did, but some of the pent-up demand will abate. 

“The professional real estate community understands the angst, the pain a buyer has to go through,” he says. “It’s hard to call a buyer four or five time and tell them they didn’t get it. But I’m always amazed at how often the next house is better.”  ★

BY CINDY GERLACH

Teledyne FLIR’s slogan is “Everywhere You Look”. 

For 20 years, this company in Purdue’s Research Park has been improving technology, “helping people around the world save lives, protect the environment and enhance productivity. We’re building more than innovative technologies; we’re striving to build a more sustainable, more efficient, safer future.” 

Teledyne FLIR, a company started by two Purdue graduates who worked with Dr. Graham Cooks, is owned by parent company Teledyne, a large multinational conglomerate. FLIR is a leader for its applications in thermal imaging and chemical detection, says Clint Wichert, director; site operations. 

The company is best known for its highly specialized chemical detection instruments. There are broad applications for these instruments, which use mass spectrometry, allowing for very specific chemical identification. They can separate specific chemical mixtures, allowing the identification of minute amounts of potentially hazardous chemicals. 

“Our instrument is really the best to use in these applications,” Wichert says. 

This highly specialized equipment can be used by the military, first responders and by hazardous materials units. 

It can, for example, detect fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is highly addictive and possibly fatal when taken in high doses. It is often mixed with other drugs on the black market; this technology can detect fentanyl at even 2 or 3 percent, when it is mixed with acetaminophen — a dangerous and potentially lethal combination.

Improvements in technology have made these instruments smaller and more compact over the years, and they are now portable, meaning they can now be transported to a site. With a three to nine-month backlog in some modern forensics labs, this means less time to identify a substance, and less chance that substance will be contaminated during transport. 

“This technology is really the gold standard for chemical identification,” says Wichert. 

The instruments are sensitive and complex. For years, they were large; with the computer required, pumps and the power source, they took up a great deal of space. But the same technological progressions the world has seen in all other areas have helped make this technology more portable and accessible. 

“We’ve worked progressively over the past 20 years to miniaturize the technology,” says Wichert. “Something that used to weigh 120 pounds is now down to under 40 pounds. This same kind of tech progression has happened and been pioneered in West Lafayette.”

The company employs around 50 people and hires many Purdue graduates but also gets talent from Indiana University and Rose Hulman. Employees are drawn to the Lafayette area and working in the Research Park, with its proximity to the Purdue campus and ability to continue the collaboration with Dr. Cooks. 

As the company continues to grow and expand, it looks forward to expanding these life-saving technologies, Wichert says. 

“It’s been great over the last 20 years to really have the support of the community and of Purdue,” he says. “We work with experts, and we like to be able to tap into this talent pool, both technology and manufacturing. We’re happy to be part of this community.”  ★

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Sunlight streams through the windows of the red-painted brick building at 623 Main St., casting soft rays into the vintage space. On a white painted cabinet between the front door and the check-out counter, packages of walnut shortbread cookies rest on an elevated cake plate, while clusters of biscotti stand at attention in ivory mugs bearing the bakery’s logo. Nearby on the same wooden countertop, handmade doily bags bearing pieces of chocolate hang from the branches of a gilded tree, while a house plant on a marble-top stand adds a contrasting green to the vignette.

In this Pinterest-perfect space, gallery-white walls and honeyed wood floors serve as the backdrop for carefully curated displays of dozens of different pastries, all handmade by bakers Sergei and Natasha Vasili. 

Founded eight years ago, their Scones and Doilies Bake Shop serves up European-inspired, made-from-scratch baked goods that are as delicious as they are pretty.

“Our products are unique, handcrafted and freshly baked using quality ingredients. Our recipes are all original, and you’ll see seasonal flavors and varieties. For example, during Easter we make decorated Easter cookies and Greek Easter bread,” Natasha says. 

A fresh look

Natives of Albania – a mountainous coastal country situated on the western part of the Balkan Peninsula within the Mediterranean Sea – the couple worked in food service after immigrating to the United States. “We learned a lot about the industry – product trends, food safety and customer service,” Natasha explains. They baked on the side, getting rave reviews from family and friends for their pastries and decorated cakes. 

Eventually, with the encouragement of their daughters, the two launched their business at local farmers markets, using a commercial kitchen for baking. Then they moved downtown into a space that they shared with City Foods Co-Op.

Two years ago, when City Foods closed its Main Street location, the Vasilis became the sole proprietors of the space, and they set to work on freshening it up. Rustic wood walls and corrugated metal trim gave way to a cheerful, neutral and slightly boho space that allows their intricately detailed pastries to be the stars of the show. 

Their goal, says Sergei, was to make the place “feel like something different, something really unique. I think people in Greater Lafayette really enjoy that.”

Rustic and elegant

Albanian baking is a mix of Mediterranean, European, rustic and elegant, and all of that is on display in Scones and Doilies. On any given day, customers may discover gingerbread cookies piped with tiny flowers nestled next to delicately rolled pieces of baklava and berry galettes enveloped in flaky dough and sprinkled with sugar. 

Menu items vary but generally include scones in such flavors as honey fig pecan and white chocolate raspberry, challah bread, rugelach, baklava, biscotti, cookies, cupcakes, and galettes in savory flavors such as roasted vegetable and ham and cheese. Several gluten-free pastries are regularly available, including scones made on site. 

“We also craft specialty cakes, all baked to order, dense in texture with our signature buttercream icing and beautiful decorations,” Natasha says. Along with traditional flavors of chocolate and vanilla, the bakers offer specialty flavors in lemon blueberry, blackberry lime, raspberry champagne and carrot, in double-layer, triple-layer, half-sheet and full-sheet styles. Pricing varies by flavor and decoration. Some of these special orders are spotlighted on Scones and Doilies’ Instagram page, their colorful sprays of flowers puddling over iced layers. 

Sales for a cause
The Vasilis love giving back to their adopted community of Greater Lafayette as well as communities around the world. In addition to being active in the International Center at Purdue University, the couple supports Gift of Life International (GOL), a Rotarian-based organization whose mission is to provide life-saving heart surgeries to children in developing countries. 

Nine years ago, they helped to facilitate surgery in Indiana for their niece in Albania, who was born with a heart condition. Today, the couple says that Luna is a happy, healthy young girl – a testament to the partnership between GOL and Riley Hospital for Children. The couple continues to raise funds for the charity through the sales of some of their baked goods and handmade items such as doilies and mittens. 

“We’re able to support them in bringing the babies here, or sometimes they bring the doctors there,” Sergei explains of the charity, which to date has treated more than 40,000 children from 80 countries, according to the organization’s website.  ★

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Everyone deserves a second chance. But for individuals in recovery from addiction, second chances can be hard to come by. A grant-funded partnership between Phoenix Recovery Solutions, a division of Phoenix Paramedic Solutions, and Valley Oaks Health provides peer-based recovery support to individuals struggling with issues related to substance abuse, mental health or homelessness.  

“Our certified peer recovery coaches have lived experience and are in recovery from mental health or substance use themselves,” says Jason Padgett, the director of marketing solutions for Phoenix and one of the founding members of its quick response team (QRT), which facilitates the second chance program with support from the statewide Indiana Workforce Recovery Initiative. The QRT, which includes a warm line staffed 24/7, services nine counties: Tippecanoe, White, Jasper, Cass, Carroll, Benton, Newton, Fulton and Pulaski. 

“As a person in recovery myself, I didn’t have many choices when I entered recovery 16 years ago for alcoholism,” Padgett says. “Alcoholics Anonymous has saved millions of lives, but recovery is not a one-size-fits-all journey. The beauty of peer support is that unlike saying ‘this is how I did it, you’re going to follow my same path,’ a peer recovery coach takes the view that your journey is your journey. We’re here to help show you your options and support you on your journey by connecting you to community resources. It’s up to you to decide what route to recovery you want to explore.” 

One of the biggest challenges for persons in recovery is maintaining employment. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act protects addicts in recovery from a substance use disorder, relapses — not uncommon on the path to recovery — can lead to a positive drug screen, tardiness or missed work, which can lead to dismissal. Embracing a Second Chance Workforce, a new program offered by Phoenix QRT and Greater Lafayette Commerce, seeks to educate and empower businesses on how to support employees through addiction recovery. 

“Our goal is to partner with local corporations, particularly manufacturing but any industry, to refer employees who test positive on a drug screen or are having trouble with mental health or substance abuse issues,” Padgett says. “The companies would contract with us to assign a peer recovery specialist to support that individual on their recovery journey. That allows the company to retain the individual on its workforce, which is much cheaper than hiring and training a new employee. There are tax incentives for companies that embrace second chance policies.” 

A Lunch and Learn panel discussion held in April featured representatives from companies that embrace second chance policies geared toward people in recovery as well as individuals with felony records. As a follow up, a second chance career fair is scheduled from 1-7 p.m. May 18 at the Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds. In addition to showcasing companies embracing second chance policies, the career fair will also have representatives from community social service organizations.

“We want everyone who comes to the career fair to have access to every community resource they could possibly need,” Padgett says. “From peer support to treatment to ongoing education, they can even get help creating a resume or practice interviewing to make them comfortable speaking with potential employers.” 

Holding a job is a large part of an individual’s recovery capital, the internal and external resources that can initiate and sustain long-term recovery. Phoenix, which embraces felony-friendly hiring and employs several individuals in recovery in addition to Padgett, will be among the employers represented at the career fair. 

“I’ve had a relapse in recovery and I was supported by my employer,” Padgett says. “It meant the world to me. A bump in the road doesn’t have to mean going all the way back down to the bottom and starting at zero again.”  ★ 

 

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED

Nostalgia is defined as a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

For many of us who grew up in Greater Lafayette during the 1960s and 1970s, one of those places was Columbian Park. It had everything for children of all ages and their parents. 

A merry-go-round. A train ride. Playground equipment such as the imposing “curly” slide. Gas-powered bumper cars on a winding paved track. A large swimming pool whose fenced-off 10-foot deep section was at first scary and then a rite of passage toward adulthood.

“We’ve brought back some things for people who remember the park when they were kids,” says Jon Miner, director of operations for Lafayette Parks and Recreation.

No, “monkey island” isn’t coming back. Nor is that swimming pool or the bumper cars.

But the COVID-delayed carousel will be opening sometime this summer. Returning for a full season of operation is the train that gives riders a tour of Columbian Park, and the paddle boats.

“We’ve changed enough to adopt what people are looking for today in recreation,” Miner says. “So those families who don’t remember that can still come to the park and make their own memories. Coming to the ballpark to watch the Aviators play, going on a paddle boat ride or seeing a concert at Memorial Island. Visiting a first-rate zoo. 

“Even though the water park is different than the old pool, I think people growing up with Tropicanoe Cove will have the same memories we had of the old round pool. There’s a lot there for the community and people of all ages. Bringing back the paddle boats, the train and the carousel will add to that experience.”

It’s been more than 20 years since the last time a merry-go-round entertained children in Columbian Park. The 42-foot diameter carousel, which was budgeted for $600,000, will feature 36 carved horses and other animals. Morgan Constructors of Lafayette built the building that will contain the carousel.

“Once that’s up we’ll have a full allotment of rides,” Miner says. 

“I think it’s probably the thing most people are excited about. The paddle boats kind of surprised people last year when we said we were bringing them back. That brought a lot of nostalgia back. We’ll experience some of that same thing with the carousel. I think the carousel will be that same type of experience for those of us who remember the old carousel at Columbian Park, and for kids who didn’t experience that it’ll add another reason to come to the park. I think the community will be really, really pleased.”

The carousel and the restrooms under construction on the site of the former Jenks Rest building will wrap up several years of renovation at Columbian Park.

“We’re really looking forward to this summer since it’s going to be the first since 2018 where we haven’t had any construction happening inside the park,” Miner says. “Once that carousel is in, we’re going to have a good year where people will come and not have any construction fences up and around. It’s exciting to get to see what you want to see and not have to worry about restricted parking or ‘we can’t go over there because it’s under construction.’ ”

The new restrooms will serve the east side of Columbian Park that is home to Memorial Island as well as the SIA Playground and the picnic shelters.

“While bathrooms are typically not the most exciting thing to construct, they are critical infrastructure,” Miner says. 

The biggest news coming out of Columbian Park during the past few months came from the zoo. Six of the nine African penguins died after contracting avian malaria.

The three surviving penguins – Shazam, Sagely and Donner – are “doing well,” according to Miner.

“They’ve gained weight and are holding their own,” he says. “I am not a veterinarian nor an animal person but I think we’re past the illness stage with them. There can be some long-term effects of avian malaria on surviving penguins. It’s a matter of keeping an eye on that and making sure we’re doing the things necessary to keep them healthy.”

The Columbian Park Zoo is set to open April 16. 

By that time, the zoo’s neighbor – Loeb Stadium – will be home to Lafayette Jeff high school baseball for the second consecutive year following Loeb’s renovation.

Loeb also will host a movie night on April 22. The animated film “Onward,” featuring the voices of Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer, will be the second movie shown at the ballpark following “Elf” this past fall.

The Lafayette Aviators summer collegiate baseball team opens its home schedule at Loeb Stadium June 1 against Terre Haute.

Residing west of Loeb Stadium, Tropicanoe Cove is preparing to launch its 23rd season. The water slides that remind some park-goers of the old Big Dipper slide is back for the fourth year.

“That’s hard to believe for those of us who remember the old round swimming pool,” Miner says.

Once the carousel and new restrooms open, that will be the last of planned construction at Columbian Park until possibly 2023. That’s a potential date to replace some of the equipment at the SIA Playground, which sits on the land formerly occupied by the pool.

“Playgrounds have a shelf life, and the SIA Playground is approaching 23 years,” Miner says. “That gets to be about the point in time you have to start looking at replacing some of those pieces for safety.”

Future plans also include bringing exhibits featuring primates and North American cats to the zoo. 

Also in the next year or so, fishing may be allowed again in the lagoon, which Miner was proud to say still has crystal clear water following years of decay and mud buildup.

“We’re continuing to work on the ecosystem in the lagoon,” Miner says. “We did a lot of stocking (of fish) last fall. It’s not going to be ready for fishing quite yet. The fish that are in there won’t be of size, but we’re working with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Purdue on stocking it with the appropriate species.”  ★

BY RADONNA FIORINI 

What does it take to score almost $35 million in federal and state grants designed to bolster long-term economic health and student-to-workplace success? For officials in six area counties and six cities within those counties, plus representatives from several educational institutions, it took joining hands and working collaboratively.

Two, multimillion-dollar grants have been awarded to Greater Lafayette Commerce that will be used to address quality of life issues, economic development and student readiness in a six-county region around Lafayette, says Greater Lafayette Commerce President and CEO Scott Walker. 

Greater Lafayette Commerce spearheaded the arduous process of applying for the grants, working in partnership with regional elected officials and education professionals to obtain $30 million through the Indiana Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative, or READI, and a $4.9 million Student Learning Recovery grant.  

READI split the state into 17 regions and requires neighboring counties and communities to create governing boards that represent each region. The Greater Lafayette region, as defined by the state, encompasses Benton, Carroll, Fountain, Tippecanoe, Warren and White counties. 

While Lafayette/West Lafayette comprise the most populace cities in the region, collaboration between all counties and municipalities is critical for success, says Ben Dispennepp, economic development director for Warren County.

“Collaboration among regional counties and cities is necessary because people desire a diversity of living, recreational and employment options,” he says. “If we share in efforts to build up the region and promote across these invisible boundary lines, this region will offer a higher quality of life and provide more opportunities to thrive in the long run.”

Just applying for the grants was a challenging process that started last May. Creating a final action plan to be implemented in the next four years is the current challenge. 

“It’s complicated and we have to follow all the federal procurement and accounting guidelines,” Walker says. “The ultimate benefit will be fostering regional collaboration in a way that hasn’t been done before. It’s complex, it’s challenging. Over the long term, we’ll work to create more vibrancy and more economic development with regional partners in ways that are strategic.”

Here’s a look at each grant:
READI Grant 

After local officials learned of the grant in 2021, the Greater Lafayette Regional Board of Representatives was established. This 20-person group is comprised of six county commissioners; the mayors of Attica, Covington, Delphi, Lafayette, Monticello and West Lafayette; representatives from area economic development organizations; and representatives from Purdue University and Ivy Tech Community College, Walker says. 

The board worked together to draft the more than 70-page Lafayette Regional Development Plan

which was approved by the state. The $30 million grant was announced in December. 

The plan calls for unprecedented collaboration between the urban and rural areas of the region with a goal of retaining and expanding businesses, including high-tech and advanced manufacturing companies. It addresses the need for a well-trained, diverse workforce, and the importance of addressing quality-of-life issues such as safe, affordable housing; a strong labor market; recreational and cultural opportunities; plentiful child care options; vibrant city centers; and sound infrastructure.

“The process has been very enlightening,” says board member John Dennis, West Lafayette’s mayor. “Bringing together several communities with different population dynamics, different economic drivers, and different needs and priorities has been a real eye opener for all of us.” 

Dennis describes Indiana as a diverse state with influences from around the world and an equally diverse and unique economic base. 

“Collaborating with our regional partners opened the doors for further collaborative opportunities and opened our eyes to the fact that although we might not share a ZIP code, we all share a great love for our communities and our state,” he says.

The regional board currently is identifying specific projects to be funded by the grant. 

Some projects being considered include:

  • Expanding the airport near Purdue, bringing commercial air service back to the region.
  • Residential development plans to address housing needs.
  • Investment in greenways and a trail system along the Wabash River.
  • Expanding access to broadband in rural areas.
  • Expanding the availability of quality child care.
  • Programs to attract talent and a diverse workforce, with a focus on veterans.

“At the risk of sounding hokey, all the projects submitted have a purpose and greatly benefit the region,” says Dennis, adding that he doesn’t have a favorite. “We’re very blessed here in Tippecanoe with two economically strong cities and county. Having a world-class university in our community doesn’t hurt, either.”

Warren County’s Dispennepp concurs that all the proposed projects are important in attracting and retaining a robust workforce. Adequate and affordable housing, however, stands out as one of the keys to long-term economic health.

“In talking with area businesses, they see housing availability as a concern for their workforce and their ability to expand,” he says. “And I would agree that low supply of housing impacts the cost of living, quality of life, and is a barrier to growing our workforce. Our READI project, focused on increasing housing in the region, would help accelerate the efforts that are already being made to address housing needs.”

Projects ultimately chosen must meet federal and state guidelines and be sustainable, long after the grant money runs out, Walker says. The stimulus money, he adds, will help leverage new private/public partnerships to sustain and grow the regional economy and quality of life. 

 “The READI funding will provide much-needed capital for economic development throughout our region,” says Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski, also a board representative. “We have an opportunity to accomplish several quality-of-life initiatives that have been part of our collective conversations for years.”  

Student Learning Recovery Grant Program

This $4.9 million grant, which was awarded to Greater Lafayette Commerce in January, is aimed at addressing issues related to education and the workforce, says Greater Lafayette Commerce Workforce Development Director Kara Webb.

The federal and state stimulus money is designed to help students make up for learning losses experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen the quality of education. Local leaders are focusing much of their efforts on creating strong connections between area manufacturing partners and schools. 

In the last few years, Greater Lafayette Commerce and local governments have partnered with companies to develop programs that introduce students to careers in industry and manufacturing. Those efforts have included tours of area manufacturing plants, and summer camps that offer hands-on opportunities to learn about careers in advanced manufacturing, logistics, coding, robotics and more, Webb says. 

Lafayette’s Roswarski touts collaborative work on such projects as the Greater Lafayette Career Academy, Greater Lafayette Commerce Manufacturing Week/Month and serving as a pilot city for Make IN Move, a statewide advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative.

“These partnerships — along with our work with local businesses, industries and building trades — have built a strong foundation to maximize the use of these (grant) funds,” he says. 

The grant also provides funding for the creation of a curriculum that imbeds manufacturing principles into student coursework. Area manufacturers will work with Skyepack, a West Lafayette company that creates digital learning courses and pathways, and Ivy Tech to develop coursework that will help students obtain credentials and certifications before they graduate high school. Those credentials can help students land a job or get an early start on a college degree.  

“The Student Recovery Grant will help close learning gaps and prepare students for a career right after graduation,” Roswarski says. “Financial resources to schools and community partners will provide students with access to career opportunities and resources as they prepare to join the local job market.”

And the curriculum will emphasize lifelong skills that will serve students well, no matter what college 

or career they choose, Webb says. The teaching of such life and character qualities as attention to detail, confidence, independence and problem solving will be included in the curriculum for each grade level.

Area educators are excited that the curriculum will be made available to them on their own timeline, she says. Participating schools will use their own discretion in how to incorporate the teaching into different instructional areas.

The almost $5 million grant must be used by June 30, 2023, so some of the money will go to help participating schools hire additional staff and tutors to roll out the curriculum. 

Eight schools have signed on, and Greater Lafayette Commerce is offering the program to many more in the region. There is the potential to impact more than 12,000 students in the six-county area, Webb says.

And local industry will benefit from having access to a well-trained workforce, prepared to fill new, high-tech jobs in the region.

 “These programs will allow students to earn credentials and build a portfolio before employment,” Webb says. “We are building a talent pipeline and providing access to a talent pipeline. This will help students recover from the loss (during the pandemic) and have access to local jobs.”

Two other Student Recovery grants were awarded locally:

Purdue University’s College of Education received a $1.1 million grant and will be working with students in kindergarten through third grades in the Tippecanoe, Lafayette and Frankfort school districts.

“We are partnering with district leadership and K-3 grade classrooms … to expand literacy clinics to support emergent readers and writers; expand language clinics to support emergent bilinguals; and offer release time for teachers through our grant,” says Christy Wessel Powell, a Purdue assistant professor.

Purdue also is offering professional development for teachers and partnering school districts using online resources, related workshops and a lending library.

Lyn Treece Boys and Girls Club of Tippecanoe County received a $383,813 grant to extend current programming.  ★

BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
COLLAGE PHOTOS PROVIDED

A small name change can go a long way. For The Arts Federation — known locally as TAF — the removal of Tippecanoe actually means more gains than losses.

Tetia Lee, TAF executive director, says the name has always caused a little bit of confusion. People have been known to refer to “Taft,” she says. Or when she’s out in the field, working with artists in other counties, the Tippecanoe label seemed to fall a little flat. 

Because as a Regional Arts Partner of the Indiana Arts Commission, TAF serves more than half a million residents in a 14-county area in north-central Indiana, the largest geographic area in the state. It’s much more than Tippecanoe County, and the time had come for the name to truly reflect that.

Thus with this rebranding, The Arts Federation helps to more accurately represent the counties represented by Region 4. 

Since 1997, TAF has provided support for artists and is the umbrella organization for more than 200 different member organizations. This encompasses everything from vocal and instrumental music organizations — large established ones such as the Wabash Valley Youth Symphony, or smaller ones like the Jazz Club — as well as individual artists — painters, sculptors, weavers or writers. Even performance venues such as the Long Center for the Performing Arts are members, using TAF services to help them network and reach their audience, or expand to a new one. 

TAF provides a physical home for those groups who need it, in their newly renovated facility, the Wells Community Cultural Center on North Street in downtown Lafayette.

The building has large and small meeting spaces, a dance studio, recording studio and craft space. TAF offers after-school arts programming for children of all ages. 

Financial support also is available to member organizations, as TAF helps administer a series of grants, both state and federally funded, both for operating and project support, to its members. 

The whole change began with a website redesign, Lee says. The organization knew it needed to update the site, make it more user-friendly, for ease of access.

“Our greatest change, we knew we would be overhauling our website to make it more beneficial and add some widgets,” Lee says. “We knew we wanted to do a rebrand.”

As they began to go through their style guide, emphasis fell back on the logo, which, Lee had known for a long time was less than ideal. With its multiple elements, it tried a little too hard to 

represent too much, says Lee. 

And a market test found that people found the old logo unrelatable. “People thought we were a manufacturing company,” Lee says. 

“It was a printer’s nightmare,” Lee says. “No one would even embroider it for us.” The new logo, a more simplistic yet visually appealing design, represents the arts with a sleeker, more cohesive look. 

New logo, new name — sort of — yet the same mission. And best of all, the acronym TAF is still accurate, so there’s no learning curve for longtime members. This rebranding will help better spread this message to the people TAF wishes to serve. And in the end, the new name better represents TAF’s mission and its outreach to the entire region.

“When I was out in the field, it was hard to gain trust because we had Tippecanoe in the name,” Lee says. “We are a regional arts organization. 

We want everything to reflect our focus.”  ★

 

BY RADONNA FIORINI
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

With warmer temperatures and the promise of locally grown fruits and vegetables just around the corner, some restaurants are freshening up their menus from the comforting warmth of winter to the bright palate of spring.

Outdoor tables are being dusted off and fresh, herby menu options are popping up. Here’s a look at some of the changes coming for spring at area dining establishments.

The Bryant
1820 Sagamore Parkway W, West Lafayette
765-250-8963

Executive Chef Alejandro “Alex” Cruz is all about fresh from farm to table when he creates seasonal menus at The Bryant. Spring and summer mean more local produce with which to experiment and achieve the fresh flavors he loves.

Cruz shops at the farmers markets and also buys direct from some local producers. He generally offers new items as specials and those that do well may become part of the regular menu. 

“I like to help local farmers and I like to play with flavors and offer something different,” Cruz says. 

“Having salt and pepper on the table isn’t necessary if the dish is seasoned well. I try to make something that is good, just as it is.”

This spring he’s excited about serving lamb dishes with meat purchased from a local farmer. More gluten-, dairy-free and vegan options are in the works, from entrees to desserts. Look for the gluten-free Key Lime tart with an almond flour crust.

Fresh produce means colorful sides and salads, including a Caprese salad appetizer featuring a gazpacho/kale pesto, burrata cheese and prosciutto on a crostini. Or how about a corn cake BLT with local bacon, heirloom tomatoes and avocado on homemade corn cakes adorned with honey sriracha mayo?

Really hungry? Dig into the new Monte Cristo sandwich that features local ham, Swiss cheese and cherry jam, that is dipped in batter and deep fried. Wanting something a little lighter? The new Basil Ranch salad made with arugula and baby kale and topped with blueberries, peaches, fontina cheese, candied walnuts and pancetta might fit the bill.

Teays River Brewing and Public House
3000 S. 9th St., Lafayette
765-746-6614

The patio doors are open at this south-side brewery and restaurant that focuses on artisanal sandwiches, steaks and pizza, along with unique craft beer. 

“Our patio is the most popular outdoor seating area in Lafayette,” says owner John Hodge. “We’ll have an official patio opening party in mid-May, and it will be open as often as the weather allows.” 

While the Teays River menu doesn’t change with the seasons, some warm weather specials will be offered every month. The menu was refined in late winter to reflect current supply chain and labor market challenges, says Hodge. Rising food prices and the continuing difficulty in hiring staff meant the restaurant needed to focus on the most popular, easy to prepare items. More vegetarian and vegan choices also are available.

You’ll still find hand-crafted pizza, chops, salmon, flavorful sandwiches and salads, along with an extensive menu of signature beers. Here’s to the wind in your hair and a cold one in your hand.

East End Grill
1016 Main St., Lafayette
765-607-4600

From salads to appetizers to handcrafted cocktails, the spring menu at East End will be veggie and fruit forward, says General Manager Laila Syed.

Lots of herbs and fresh vegetables play a crucial role in the lighter fare featured currently. The grill changes its menu twice a year, freshening up salads and adding some lighter fish choices in the spring. For example, the fall salad featuring apples, seeds and goat cheese has been replaced with a green salad topped with berries and candied almonds.

The chef is working on a fresh fish appetizer to accompany the menu favorites that remain throughout the year, including the Wagyu beef, which comes from a farm in Cutler, Indiana. The restaurant works with about 10 different food venders, many in the region, to find the best quality and freshest ingredients possible.

“Our handcrafted cocktails are very fruit forward for spring,” Syed says. “We also feature lighter wines and funky beers.”

Due to Indiana’s unpredictable weather, it’s hard to know when East End’s outdoor tables will be open regularly. Just head downtown when a soft, warm breeze wafts through, heralding the lengthening days and promise of fresh flavors from locally grown produce.

The Whittaker Kitchen
702 W 500 N, West Lafayette
765-441-2010
info@thewhittakerinn.com

The kitchen at the Whittaker Inn is open to the public from 4-8 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, with a reservation made 48 hours in advance. To-go orders also are welcome. Call in your reservation or send an email. 

Chef Andrew Whittaker — who owns and operates the inn with wife Elizabeth — looks forward to freshening up the dinner menu each season and sees spring as the time to feature leafy herbs and seasonal veggies.

While the protein options — steak, fish and chops — are fairly consistent year-round, side dishes, salads, sauces and soups now feature lighter, brighter flavors. There will be a few new entrée options as Whittaker is experimenting with trout this season, in addition to his popular salmon dish.

“Our winter/fall menu has more shallots and robust veggies,” Whittaker says. “Spring and summer we use more leafy herbs such as basil, which we grow out in front of the inn.”

Seasonal vegetables such as asparagus and peas are going in risotto, and salads are updated with baby tomatoes, artichoke or steamed asparagus. Regular trips to the area farmers markets keep Whittaker supplied with many of the fresh ingredients that go in his signature dishes. 

Overnight guests also enjoy a complimentary breakfast, made to order from an a la carte menu, and can raid the night kitchens, which feature fresh baked goods and beverages.

Farmers market opening soon >>

It’s almost time again for delightful strolls through one of the areas three farmers markets, all of which open the first week of May and plan to operate through October. Here are the details:

West Lafayette Farmers Market: Opens Wednesday, May 4, 3:30 – 7 p.m., in Cumberland Park, 3065 N Salisbury Street, West Lafayette. More than 50 vendors offer fresh produce and baked goods, prepared foods and juried crafts. Wine by the glass from area vineyards is featured along with food trucks. 

Purdue Farmers Market: 
Opens Thursday, May 5, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on the Purdue Memorial Mall, West Lafayette. Organizers are expecting more than 20 vendors offering produce, baked goods and prepared foods. Pay attention to parking restrictions and use nearby parking garages when possible. 

Lafayette Farmers Market: 
The area’s oldest market opens Saturday, May 7, 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and will be open most Saturdays. Stretching along 5th Street in downtown Lafayette 

between Main and Ferry streets, the market features produce, meat, fresh flowers and house plants, crafts and jewelry, handmade soap, baked goods and more. ★

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

Any season is the ideal season to linger over a scrumptious brunch. Perfect for celebrating a special occasion, catching up with friends or cozying up with a good book, the leisurely atmosphere of brunch invites you to tarry a while. Whether you’re in the mood for sweet delights or savory noshes, 

Greater Lafayette boasts a bevy of brunch options. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite local restaurants to indulge in seriously delicious Sunday eats (and drinks!). 

8Eleven Bistro 
201 Grant St., West Lafayette

If you’ve yet to check out 8Eleven, the culinary anchor of the recently remodeled Union Club Hotel at Purdue University, brunch is a great place to start. Its intimate setting preserved the historic building’s vintage oak paneling, sweeping Gothic windows and original stone fireplace. Soak up the classy aura as you savor farm-inspired cocktails and classic American dishes with a few French signatures. 

What to try: The croque madame is sinfully delicious. The menu lists it under handhelds, but with all that silky mornay sauce, you’re going to need a fork. The nearby Boiler Up bar enhances its craft cocktails with fresh garnishes provided by the College of Agriculture. Go ahead, make it a double.  



Black Sparrow Pub

223 Main St., Lafayette

Don’t be surprised to encounter a line of people waiting to dine at the Sparrow’s legendary brunch. The eclectic pub known for a mastery of craft cocktails and innovative bar food opens on the last Sunday of the month to serve up a hearty brunch. The menu changes every month and is often themed. Past brunches celebrated Lunar New Year, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo and Oktoberfest.  

What to try: The frequently featured French toast with inventive toppings (think strawberry Baileys or baklava) is sure to please. You can’t go wrong sipping a greyhound. It’s half grapefruit juice so that counts as a serving of fruit, right?

501 Bistro
501 Main St., Lafayette

This airy upmarket bistro has anchored the downtown brunch scene for many years, serving up French-inspired fare that highlights local ingredients. Executive chef Cheyenne Buckley changes the menu with the seasons so there are always new flavor combinations to explore. Reservations recommended. 

What to try: The waffle Monte Cristo with blackberry maple dip offers an imaginative twist on an old brunch favorite. A delectable menu of boozy cocktails and virgin mocktails will keep you refreshed. 

Cellar Wine Bistro 
1001 Main St., Lafayette

Open for brunch on the first and third Sundays of the month, the inviting ambiance at Cellar Wine Bistro creates a relaxing brunch vibe. The much-coveted window table for two allows you to watch the world go by as you dine. Chef Ethan Wise enjoys introducing atypical menu items that showcase global flavors. Reservations accepted. 

What to try: For an intense 
flavor explosion order the okonomiyaki, a cabbage and sweet potato pancake topped with marinated pork shoulder and a poached egg. Mimosas are a must at the area’s premier wine bar.  

Folie
526 Main St., Lafayette

Billed as a casual, upscale eatery featuring seasonal French and New American plates, Folie may be the gem of Main Street. Though its brunch took a hiatus at the end of 2021, we look forward to its return this year. With a kitchen that focuses on classic preparation and draws inspiration from regional and global gastronomy, guests embark on a culinary adventure during every visit. Watch Folie’s Facebook page for updates on the brunch schedule. Reservations accepted.

What to try: The ever-popular plántanos fritos (fried plantains) are divine. When paired with a chelada (Mexican beer cocktail) the combo is sensational.

Fowler House Mansion
909 South St., Lafayette

The Fowler House Kitchen hosts brunch once a month on the second Sunday. Take in the grandeur of one of Lafayette’s most stately homes, built in 1852 by Moses and Eliza Fowler. Despite the opulence of the ornately carved woodwork and exquisitely crafted plasterwork throughout the Gothic Revival home, this brunch is a casual affair. The best part? Proceeds from brunch help fund the continued preservation of the Fowler House Mansion. Reservations recommended.

What to try: Though the menu is ever-rotating, a savory biscuits and gravy is a signature entrée. The bar serves both mimosas and bloody Marys.

Sixth Street Dive
827 N. Sixth St., Lafayette

This no-frills watering hole specializes in Tex-Mex and American comfort fare, and those flavors influence the weekly brunch menu as well. As Diverienos know, brunch specials here are truly innovative and unlike anything served elsewhere in town. If apple cinnamon breakfast tamales in a whiskey cream sauce won’t get you out of bed on a lazy Sunday morning, what will? 21+ only.

What to try: Anything on special. Truly. And if you’ve never experienced the decadent Canadian grub that is poutine (French fries topped with fresh cheese curds and gravy), this is a good place to be indoctrinated. Not only does the Dive serve mimosas, but they serve beermosas and margmosas, too. ★

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED

Legendary college basketball coach John Wooden and his defending national champion UCLA team were the first to find out that Mackey Arena is a difficult place to play for Purdue basketball opponents.

A team featuring Lew Alcindor (aka Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) came within a last-second shot of being the Boilermakers’ first upset victim when Mackey Arena opened on Dec. 2, 1967. More than 14,400 also witnessed Rick Mount’s debut in a Purdue uniform. The Indiana Mr. Basketball from Lebanon nearly shot the Boilermakers to victory with a game-high 28 points in a 73-71 loss.

Since then, Purdue has won more than 650 men’s basketball games, been home to the Big Ten Conference’s only women’s basketball national championship team and set a record attendance mark (10,645) for an NCAA women’s volleyball match.

Purdue men’s basketball, which achieved the No. 1 ranking in The Associated Press poll in December, expects to fill Mackey Arena’s more than 14,000 seats for every game in the 2021-22 season. 

“Without question it gives us an advantage,” says Matt Painter, in his 17th season as Purdue’s head coach and a four-year letterman under his predecessor, Gene Keady, from 1989-93.

“The noise, the way it bounces off the ceiling, I think that’s a bit of a difference in how loud it gets. I used to always walk into the locker room after we win close games and say I don’t know if we would have won that game anywhere else in the country besides Mackey Arena. There’s no question the fans get us six to 10 points with the atmosphere here.”

The loudest Mackey Arena crowd was registered at 122.3 decibels during a 2017 victory against Indiana. That decibel level has been compared to sitting in the front row at a rock concert or the sound of a thunderclap overhead.

The noise quickly gets the attention of visitors and fans watching the games on TV.

“There is a possibility that Mackey Arena at Purdue is the loudest venue in college hoops. It kinda hurts to work here actually,” says ESPN’s Dave Flemming.

Mackey Arena was hailed as “the first of its kind among collegiate sports facilities” when groundbreaking for the circular concrete and steel structure with a domed roof took place on July 20, 1965.

For more than 50 years, Purdue has gotten its money’s worth from the $6 million investment that replaced the old arena inside Lambert Fieldhouse next door. 

Originally named Purdue Arena, it gained its current name in March 1972 when the facility was named in honor of long-time athletic director Guy “Red” Mackey, who had died the year before. 

On Dec. 12, 1997, the floor of Mackey Arena was declared “Keady Court” in honor of Gene Keady, the winningest coach in Boilermaker basketball history.

If possible, Mackey Arena became a louder place to watch and play a basketball game when an organized student section was added in the early 2000s. Originally called “The Gene Pool” to salute Keady, the organized body was renamed “The Paint Crew” when Painter replaced Keady in 2005.

Purdue senior Bryce Randolph, vice president of The Paint Crew, takes pride in doing his part to help the Boilermakers intimidate rivals.

“From the opening tip to the final buzzer, every single fan in Mackey is into the game,” Randolph says. “Mackey is such a tough place because of how engaged and passionate the fan base is every day and especially every game. Every game is insanely loud and it does not matter who they are playing against.”

Randolph cited a 96-52 victory against Wright State early in the 2021-22 season. 

“Purdue was up 30 points in the first half and the crowd would go crazy for every dunk or big 3-pointer the team had,” he says. 

The Paint Crew’s support hasn’t gone unnoticed by the players. Senior guard Sasha Stefanovic notices during pre-game warmups that the Paint Crew is usually full an hour to 90 minutes before tipoff.

“You feel our students right on top of you, always yelling,” Stefanovic says. “It feels very intimate at the same time. The intimate feel is something you notice right away.” 

The deafening roar of Mackey Arena sometimes has its drawbacks. At Mackey’s loudest moments, Painter can’t call plays for his team and his players can’t hear what he’s saying.

“More or less, you can’t hear yourself think when it gets that loud,” Painter says. “You will have a moment or two every now and then where you are like, ‘This is unbelieveable.’ You become a spectator at times because (the players) can’t hear you. It is a pretty cool setup when it gets that loud. Even though it might be a little harder for us, it’s definitely harder for your opponent.”

Adds Stefanovic: “I’m telling you there are tons of times we don’t understand (Painter), can’t hear. Ball screen assignments, plays. Sometimes you practice with crowd noise when it’s going to be a big game. It’s a good problem to have.” 

Mackey Arena was a quiet place to play during the 2020-21 season, when only family was allowed to attend games due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Painter wondered how his players would react to playing before crowds this season. Only junior guard Isaiah Thompson and Painter’s three scholarship seniors (Eric Hunter Jr., Stefanovic, Trevion Williams) had experienced Mackey Arena at its most boisterous.

“Our freshmen and sophomores had never played in a sold-out Mackey until this year,” Painter says. “Those guys walking into their first game and having a sellout in an exhibition, they think that’s the way it is. It’s not normally the way it is.

“Your exhibitions, they might call them a sellout but you don’t see 14,000 people there like this year. I think it was something pretty cool for all of us, to be out for a year and then be able to see a sellout every single game.”

It’s been more than 30 years since Painter played his first game as a Boilermaker in Mackey Arena. While he doesn’t remember many details, one memory stands out.

“I remember how much Coach Keady was fired up at the time,” Painter says. “I’m thinking, ‘Man, is he like this all the time?’ He was really amped up because the season before they hadn’t played as well. I was fired up watching him.

“He would try to get the crowd even more amped up than they already were. I’m a little different how I’m wired. I’m constantly trying to keep my poise and think about the next thing coming up.”

Stefanovic was 11 years old when he experienced Mackey Arena for the first time. Thanks to his brother, a Purdue student, Stefanovic found a seat among The Paint Crew when Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore led fourth-ranked Purdue past sixth-ranked West Virginia on New Year’s Day 2010.

“It was a crazy, crazy environment,” Stefanovic recalls. “Those are definitely vivid memories.”

Randolph grew up imagining himself wearing a Purdue uniform in Mackey Arena. The next best thing was becoming a part of The Paint Crew when he enrolled at Purdue. 

“After getting in, I fell in love with going to the games with all my friends,” Randolph says. “I really feel like we have a huge impact on the games. The loudest I have heard it was against IU during the (2019)-20 season. Eric Hunter had a breakaway dunk to end the half and Mackey exploded.

“I have never been to another college arena so I cannot compare them to Mackey. But I have a hard time believing them being anything close to Mackey in terms of fan engagement and level of intimidation for opposing teams.”  ★

WHAT THE FANS SAY

“Few things feel as helpless as being on the visitor’s bench when Purdue gets rolling at Mackey Arena.” – Mark Titus, former Ohio State player

“Look up intimidation in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of Mackey Arena.” 

Loren Tate, Champaign News-Gazette

“There are some environments that can’t be replicated and Mackey Arena is one of them.” 

Kenyon Murray, former Iowa basketball player

“Mackey Arena is one of the underrated, great environments in basketball. Does not get the attention it deserves for a place that absolutely rocks.” 

Dan Shulman, ESPN

“I feel like I say this every time Purdue plays a big home game,  but Mackey is a legitimately terrifying place.” – Eamonn Brennan, The Athletic

MACKEY BY THE NUMBERS
(As of Dec. 3, 2021)

» Games played: 810

» Sellouts: 409

» Overall record: 665-145
(82 percent)

» Non-conference record: 306-38
(89 percent)

» Big Ten games: 359-107
(77 percent)

» Average attendance per game from 1967-present: 13,096

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS
PHOTOS PROVIDED

The Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration – 

a contemporary, light- and glass-filled structure in the Discovery Park District of West Lafayette – provided a fitting backdrop last August for the announcement of an innovative, collaborative facility that will investigate the latest in hypersonic technologies.

The planned Hypersonic Ground Test Center (HGTC), revealed to a crowd attending a Hypersonics Summit hosted by Purdue 

University and the National Defense Industrial Association, will be located in the Purdue Aerospace District adjacent to the university campus. The new facility is part of ongoing, long-term economic development plans for Greater Lafayette and Indiana. 

“Creating this first-in-the-nation center is possible because we have industry partners that aren’t just on the cutting edge but are reinventing where the edge is. Couple that with the many thriving communities in Tippecanoe County, and a gushing pipeline of top talent at Purdue including researchers, students and graduates [that are] prepared to make the next giant leaps in both aerospace and hypersonic 

i“It’s because of days like today that our economy remains strong and Indiana reigns as one of the best places in the world to do business.”

Paving the way

Driving along the western gateway of the Purdue campus where State Street meets the U.S. 

231 bypass, you’ll notice a much different landscape from 10 or even five years ago. Rising from the flatlands are multi-story office buildings, R&D facilities, apartment complexes and $450K-plus single-family homes – all part of the $120 billion Discovery Park District development from Purdue Research Foundation and Indianapolis-based Browning Development LLC.

The planned community is designed to attract everyone from startup founders to corporate executives with luxurious homes surrounded by green spaces a short distance from where they work. The transformation, however, began with infrastructure made possible with the help of Greater Lafayette officials. 

In 2013, a $46 million Indiana Department of Transportation project to reroute U.S. 231 was completed, bringing the road parallel to the southern edge of the Purdue campus, with its northwest leg meeting up at State Road 26 near the intersection with Newman Road. This rerouting opened up new possibilities for business development adjacent to Purdue, and later in the year, the West Lafayette City Council voted to annex 3,997 acres including the Purdue University campus and the properties adjoining the U.S. 231 Highway Corridor. 

Two years later, with the consent of the West Lafayette City Council, Mayor John Dennis and his staff applied to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation to certify part of the land as an aerospace district.

Then, in 2019, work wrapped on the $123 million State Street Redevelopment Project, a joint venture between the City of West Lafayette and Purdue University. No longer a state highway for through-traffic, the revamped corridor boasts wider sidewalks, bicycle racks, public art and landscaping from the Wabash River up the hill through Purdue. 

That same year, crews completed two other critical projects: construction of a roundabout at the intersection of State Road 26 and Newman Road, and the rebuilding of a railroad bridge with a wider, higher underpass. A collaboration of Purdue University, the City of West Lafayette, the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Purdue Research Foundation, the projects were designed to improve traffic safety and accommodate larger commercial trucks for the anticipated arrival of industry clients. 

All of these improvements paved the way for the Aerospace District and the Hypersonic Ground Test Center.

The next frontier

Hypersonic weapons are missiles that can travel at Mach 5 or higher – at least five times faster than the speed of sound. The United States, Russia and China are all racing to develop hypersonics, seen as the next frontier in national security. 

Purdue University boasts a large team of hypersonic researchers in a number of subspecialty areas, along with expertise in systems-engineering research – the ability to bring these experts together in order to solve complex problems. 

The Aerospace District capitalizes on these capabilities as well as Purdue’s legacy in the broader discipline of aerospace education and research. To date, the university has had 27 graduates in space, and its aeronautical and astronautical engineering program consistently ranks among the top in the United States.

Aerospace and national security is one of four strategic focus areas of Discovery Park District. Boilermakers – and by extension, Greater Lafayette residents – are seen as an essential mix of its burgeoning workforce. 

“At Purdue, we’re committed to research at the very frontiers of science, especially when it can contribute to the national security of Americans,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels at the announcement of the new hypersonic center. “Becoming home to the nation’s premier hypersonics facilities can make such a contribution, while providing enormous new opportunities for our researchers, aspiring entrepreneurs and job-seeking graduates.”

Team effort

HGTC will further expand the district’s capabilities by offering a central shared facility supporting multiple laboratories. Rolls-Royce is the founding member of a new nonprofit consortium of national defense industry partners that will manage capital and operational costs for the facility. 

The unveiling of plans for the Hypersonic Ground Test Center came last summer on the heels of two other major announcements. 

In July, Purdue University and Purdue Research Foundation officials reported on the planned construction of a 65,000-square-foot Hypersonic Applied Research Facility, which will house a hypersonic pulse (HYPULSE) shock tunnel and the only Mach 8 quiet wind tunnel in the world. 

Then, in early August, Rolls-Royce announced a significant expansion at Purdue, with new test facilities for high-altitude and hybrid-electric engines that are expected to power the next generation of U.S. military aircraft. The company, which notes that it has more engineers from Purdue than any other university, already has a jet engine facility located in Purdue Technology Center Aerospace, the first new building that was constructed for the Aerospace District. 

Purdue University and Purdue Research Foundation will fund the construction of the HGTC. But, as with the infrastructure improvements ahead of the Aerospace District’s development, its expansion is the result of a team effort. 

“That investment from Rolls-Royce, the university and PRF, along with support from the state, West Lafayette, Lafayette and Tippecanoe County, laid the foundation for creating the HGTC,” said Purdue Research Foundation President and CEO Brian Edelman.  ★

BY KARIS PRESSLER
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Over the past 10 years, several key moments have led Lindsay Mason, the founder and designer of French Knot, a knitwear company based in downtown Lafayette, to where she is now.

First, the moment in 2012 when Mason told her parents that she would like to start her own company after being laid off from her job as a knitwear designer. 

Mason’s parents, Carol and Ken, quickly set to work helping to incorporate French Knot and then create space in their New England barn for Mason to design and ship 12,000 hand knit hats and handwarmers made in Nepal that first season.

The second key moment was French Knot’s big move from Massachusetts to Indiana in 2017 when Mason’s husband accepted a job at Purdue University. Mason felt immediately welcomed and supported by the Lafayette community even if there was, and still is, the misconception that Mason and her Lafayette team knit all of the products they sell.

“We’re not up here knitting. We’re shipping over 80,000 pieces a season from our warehouse on North Street,” Mason says with a smile and then explains how wool sourced from South Africa and New Zealand is first hand-dyed and spun into a vivid color palate before being knit using a two-needle technique. Once Mason’s designs — that include hats, mittens, headbands, scarves, sweaters and slippers — are constructed, many items are embellished with tasteful beading and intricate embroidery that echo vintage design elements from the 1920s.

So who knits these timeless French Knot designs?

Sunlight pours into Mason’s work area on a Monday morning in her office above Third Street where jewel-toned swatches of fringed yarn festoon her work station. Next to one of the swatches, a picture of Mason and a Nepali woman hugging and smiling while surrounded by finished French Knot products reminds Mason of her “why.”

“She’s like my Nepalese grandmother,” Mason says of the woman who leads one of the knitting groups in Nepal that bring Mason’s designs to life.

Mason looks at the photo.  “She’s amazing.”

“We’ve probably done over 1,000 designs. She knows every single number in her head, every color, every single purchase order number… She always asks how my parents and my husband are doing.”

“We’re very tight,” Mason remarks of her connection to the Nepali knitting groups. “My favorite thing is going to visit them for the two weeks that I go over there every year. Every time we go there, we see their businesses growing.”

Mason, a graduate of Syracuse University’s Fashion and Textiles Design program, relies on her years of industry experience along with her artistic eye to create each original French Knot design that she often draws by hand before transferring to a CAD (computer-aided design) program. Mason began building rapport with Nepali artisans shortly after college, and she has maintained connection ever since. 

“I started working with Nepali knitters about 15 years ago,” she says and explains how at that time most of the hand knit items coming out of Nepal often used earth-toned yarns, had boxy pattern shapes and geometric color work. But Mason’s pull toward soft and flowing vintage design coupled with the use of vibrant yarns allowed 

her Nepali colleagues to create something new and 

dynamic — something that French Knot buyers such as QVC, Sundance Catalog and Anthropologie have never seen or sold before.

For Mason, her mission is not just to make French Knot’s products noticeable, but to also make the story of French Knot and the way the items are hand knit, hand embroidered, hand beaded, and hand lined both memorable and lasting. 

She’s worked hard to build and maintain trust, community and connection with knitting groups half a world away by ensuring that French Knot’s artisans are paid a living wage. Mason also works exclusively with suppliers who are certified in ethical and environmental practices. Likewise, she strives to maintain a sense of family among those who work beside her locally.

French Knot has become more than Mason ever imagined it could be.

This moment of reflection quickly evaporates. Mason closes several windows on her computer screen before joining Ryan Casucci, French Knot’s marketing and sales manager, to discuss upcoming social media posts, newsletters and the much-anticipated French Knot warehouse sale this winter season.

Several blocks away from Mason’s Third Street workspace, Chelsea Erhart, French Knot’s operations manager, along with the warehouse team, begin to process an order of hats that has just arrived from Nepal. The walls of the North Street warehouse are lined with pictures of French Knot’s artisans, adorned in bright colors and wearing wide smiles while knitting Mason’s designs. This shipment of hats, a design that Mason first imagined eight months ago, will be quality checked and processed before being shipped out again to buyers and boutiques throughout the United States, the UK and New Zealand. It’s a Lafayette layover for hand knit items.

“Did you know that Johnny Cash wrote a song about the Wabash River from Lafayette?” Erhart asks as the group begins to sort and inspect the shipment.

Linda Emberton looks up from a grid of hats she has arranged into groups of 10 and chimes in, “I heard that song on Jeff 92 this morning on the drive in.” Emberton then randomly selects a hat from each row to check that its size and appearance, including the size of the pom pom, meets French Knot’s specifications.

The group briefly discusses the song’s merits, illuminating the fact that this song is different from Cash’s “Wabash Cannonball,” a song about a locomotive train. Erhart taps the screen on her phone a few times until Cash’s gentle guitar fills the space and he croons, “If it wasn’t for the Wabash River, I’d be going out of my mind.” The group listens while working, some counting hats in time with the music’s beat.


This multi-generational warehouse team gathers almost daily in the fall to process and prepare French Knot’s orders for the holiday season. It’s too early for holiday music, so when Cash’s Lafayette-inspired song concludes, Erhart allows Cash’s next song, “I Walk the Line,” to play as she steps away to call a shipping company and inquire about an order of slippers that has disappeared somewhere between here and Nepal.

Jeni Rider, a Lafayette native, shares how she first learned about French Knot from the Sundance Catalog well before Mason transplanted her business to Indiana.

“I had been following Sundance. It’s the Robert Redford magazine, you know? It’s one of my favorite catalogs.”

One afternoon, Rider’s husband, Jeff, a local real estate developer, told Rider about meeting Mason while she was scouting properties in Lafayette before moving. 

“Jeff just told me, ‘You might love what she does… She designs those hats that you like. ‘That’s all he said, isn’t that funny? ‘She designs those hats that you like,’” Rider laughs. But when her husband and their three daughters brought home items from French Knot’s annual warehouse sale where the public can purchase discounted seconds and samples of Mason’s designs every December, Rider knew she had to connect with Mason after seeing her products in person. Rider has been working in the French Knot warehouse ever since.

She feels passionate about French Knot’s brand because the products have heart. “It’s these women’s livelihood,” Rider says while looking at a photo of Nepali women knitting. “It’s just beauty,” she says of both the individuals who create the products and the products themselves.

Rider and Emberton gather the inspected hats and pack them into several boxes that Kelley Brakstad, an HR consultant with French Knot who also helps in the warehouse when needed, has placed in front of their work tables.

“It’s all hands on deck,” says Brakstad, who first met Mason several years ago while working at MatchBOX Coworking studio, where Mason serves on the board. “This is a small business, we do what we need, right?” Brakstad declares before disappearing to make more boxes and retrieve purchase orders.

Emberton makes notes on a purchase order pinned to a clipboard while Rider slides a box of processed hats over to the shipping station several feet away where Mason’s parents, along with shipping manager Jonas Bellini, prepare and palletize the packages.

The group continues its work throughout the morning as Mason, Casucci, and the French Knot intern Sarobbie Hagen, join the warehouse crew to help process and ship.

Hagen, a media and mass communications major at Purdue, dives in with fulfilling boutique orders.

“We got an email yesterday about one of our hats,” Hagen shares. “This woman was like, ‘I love your Josephine cloche. I have three colorways and I just bought two new colorways on QVC.’”

Hagen’s experience at French Knot has helped her appreciate how the company’s story makes its products mean something to consumers.

“You can tell that people telling our story care more. Before they’d be like, ‘These hats are from French Knot and they’re warm.’ Now, on QVC they say, ‘These French Knot hats are designed out of Lafayette, Indiana, by Lindsay Mason and made in Nepal by women artisans. They’re beautifully handcrafted.’”

It’s been a whirlwind week for Mason. “It’s getting real,” she muses. “It’s getting real real.”

Between prepping for the holiday season, designing, packing orders and fielding questions from QVC about expanding her line from just seasonal cold weather items to include springtime products, the cherry on top — or maybe it’s the pom pom on top — is French Knot’s slated appearance on a Friday morning Today Show “Warm and Cozy” segment.

Casucci and Mason shipped an assortment of French Knot items to 30 Rockefeller Plaza last week, and now they anxiously await to see what products will be featured as they gather alongside the team of local French Knot employees at Ripple & Company for coffee and donuts.

“We’ve never been on the Today Show before. This is big for us.” Mason says as they wait for the segment. The anticipation along with the caffeination elevate the atmosphere as the group chats while always keeping an eye on the TV.

Mason’s parents stand alongside Mason and her husband. They have witnessed French Knot’s growth from the very beginning — from when they outfitted the family barn to become a makeshift shipping operation, to now, a moment in time when their daughter’s art along with French Knot’s story will be broadcast on national TV.

Brakstad sets a matcha latte in front of Pam Guarino.  Guarino came to work at the warehouse only a few months ago. “I’m fortunate that I’m a part of it,” Guarino says. “That I’m working here. I may not be knitting or helping to design or anything. It’s just, I’m a part of it. Getting to watch it. It’s exciting.”

Hagen agrees while looking around at her co-workers. “I don’t know how this business is just full of amazing people. Not one of these people doesn’t feel passionate about this brand.”

For Mason, this is why she does the work that she does – to create beautiful products, watch people grow alongside her, and celebrate, right here in the heart of Lafayette. For French Knot, not only does every stitch matter, but so does every person who has contributed to the company’s growth and continued success.  ★

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED

A major presence in the Greater Lafayette economy since 1985, Wabash National has positioned itself to prosper during one of the toughest periods in our nation’s economy. The manufacturer is a leader of engineered solutions in transportation, logistics and distribution.

Instead of fighting for survival during the nearly two years of COVID-19 and its side effects, Brent Yeagy, president and CEO, saw this time period as a chance to regroup and make plans to take advantage of the post-pandemic business world.

“I think it has given us the opportunity to look at the world a little differently,” says Yeagy, whose degrees include a bachelor’s in environmental engineering science and a master’s in occupational health and safety engineering from Purdue University.

“Anytime we have something as disruptive as a national pandemic, things begin to change the world around us. Some for the negative and ultimately there’s things that have a positive nature to it, or at least an opportunity.”

Decreed an essential business due to the economic impact of its semi-trailer and tank trailer production, Wabash National and the more than 6,500 employees nationwide successfully met the social challenges that came with COVID-19.

“The biggest challenge was the initial speed of change and the uncertainty that would be provided by the national government in how best to manage the situation,” Yeagy says. “That gave businesses an unclear footing as to how best to take care of their employees, how to navigate the downturn in the economy and how to forecast what would come next.”

Yeagy had to balance critical decisions with both the Wabash National shareholders and his employees’ best interests. 

Fortunately, the methods to protect those 6,500-plus employees were a far more simple task.

“We did an excellent job across the country in managing everything from how to use PPE, contact tracing and all those things that go around it,” he says. “What was hard is that underlying social impact that occurs. How do you manage a 6,000-plus workforce with schools closed? You don’t have child care. We really had to think of a very innovative way to manage those needs during a really hard time for our employees.”

Wabash National has altered its thinking to the new economic reality that puts more and more emphasis on e-commerce.

“For us, commerce has been a driving force in new opportunities for new products, new customers and new markets that we can position Wabash going forward,” Yeagy says. “We have altered our strategy to what we call ‘First to Final Mile,’ where we look at products and services that span across all logistics, including e-commerce.”

Among those new opportunities was the purchase of Supreme Industries, a Goshen, Ind.-based truck body business.

“We’re launching new products to meet the needs of these changing logistics accordingly. So we think for us, this is a sustainable change that will drive future growth for Wabash over the next decade.”

A noticeable change coming to the company is its name. Recently, it dropped the National part of its brand to become simply “Wabash.”

“We want to tell a story that we’re not the same Wabash,” Yeagy says. “We’re not Wabash National, we’re Wabash. We stand for something different. It’s a reflection of the dramatic organizational and structural changes that we have completed over the last two years that position us to truly grow across the company, to become the visionary leader across a growing transportation and product solution state.”

Greater Lafayette and Purdue University want to play a role in Wabash’s future. With $70 million in investments planned for its two Lafayette plants during the next two years, Wabash and the city of Lafayette agreed to a $25 million tax abatement during that period.

“I think first and foremost it shows trust in Wabash by the city of Lafayette and its leadership,” Yeagy says. “That allows us as a corporation that spans the entire country in terms of operating facilities to continue thinking of Lafayette as a place that we can invest as well.

“Specifically, it allows us to think about job creation opportunities that we have here in Lafayette to support some of the more high-tech product applications that we are bringing to market. As we think about re-capitalizing the equipment in Lafayette that’s been around in some cases for the last 20 years, it allows us to go deeper into the roots we have here. Which means that we can continue to be a contributing part of the community for some time.”

Lafayette is home to about 3,000 of Wabash’s employment force.

Greater Lafayette is also home to Purdue, whose resources are going to play a key role in Wabash’s future. Yeagy cites an unprecedented relationship forged with the Board of Trustees and Purdue President Mitch Daniels.

“We have connected with Purdue in a way that has never occurred in Wabash’s history,” Yeagy says. “We are now a major athletic partner. We are directly reaching Purdue students to the nature of technical skills we are trying to bring into Wabash as we execute our strategic plan.”

Wabash has a direct partnership with Purdue’s Data Mine, which is aiding the company’s multiple data science-related projects. Wabash also holds office space both at the Convergence center and the Railyard. An even longer term relationship with Purdue centers on welding safety and health-related research.

“It allows us to have a significant portion of our workforce to be closer to Purdue as well as we now have space for students, interns and other related academic project work to be done on campus,” he says. 

“We are extremely excited about what it means, not only for Wabash but the Greater Lafayette community.”

As Yeagy points out, Wabash’s reach is nationwide. Just look at any highway or road and it’s a matter of time before one drives past a semi-trailer, tanker or truck body manufactured by Wabash.

“There’s the absolute pride you feel when you see something that you’re attached to so intimately as the product you produce on our nation’s highways and roads,” Yeagy says. “But as a CEO, being able to step back, you know the people that produced them. You know the work. You know the challenges that were faced to get that product on the road, especially the last two years. You know peoples’ stories that went into building that product. When I see it, I think of all that. 

“People should understand they have a corporate entity in their community that builds the safest, most sustainable products in commercial transportation. I think that’s lost at times.”  ★

BY KAT BRAZ
PROFILE PHOTO BY CHRISTINE PETKOV, OTHERS PROVIDED

When Lauren Reed joined the staff at The Farm at Prophetstown six years ago as events and education coordinator, she had no idea her role would evolve into her dream job as an executive chef. At the time, the nonprofit Museums at Prophetstown was in the red, and Reed and then-director Leslie Conwell focused their energies on restoring livestock and crops to reinstate the working farm and attract more visitors. 

“We needed to make money and I happened to have these skills as a chef, so I suggested we try holding farm-to-table dinners,” Reed says. “The first year, I did maybe five or six with 20 guests at each dinner. It took a couple of years but it’s really become a thing.”

Indeed it has. Chef Reed’s farm-to-table dinners, where diners feast on five courses while seated in various rooms of the Gibson farmhouse, are so popular that last season’s dates sold out within two days. A few dinners each year are reserved for members of the farm, and Reed also schedules private dinners for parties of 12 or more. 

“To my knowledge, we’re the only organization offering farm-to-table dinners in a museum environment,” Reed says. “Serving on vintage china in a 1920s setting creates a special ambiance and memorable dining experience.”

Although the atmosphere reflects the ’20s — the farmhouse is a replica of a kit home sold via catalog by Sears, Roebuck & Co. outfitted with antique furnishings and decor — the menus decidedly do not. Reed describes the most notable dishes of the decade as “downright nasty” as they featured lots of mayonnaise, gelatinous concoctions and canned seafood. Instead, she draws inspiration from the seasonal ingredients — greens, starches and proteins — grown right there at Prophetstown or sourced from other local farms. 

“I love using ingredients we produce here on the farm,” Reed says. “My focus is to use local ingredients as much as possible so it pigeonholes my menus in some ways. I don’t use pineapple, for example. I do bend the rules a bit; I’m not going to cook without lemon. But I don’t put a lot of extra stuff in the food because I don’t think you need to.

You don’t need 35 ingredients on a plate to make something taste good. When you use quality ingredients, the flavors will shine through.” 

Reed’s passion for cooking became evident at an early age. Family lore holds that when her parents bathed her in the kitchen sink, she’d reach out one hand to the stand mixer on the counter and idly spin the mixing bowl. Growing up in Rossville as an only child, she remembers coming home from school and frying up batches of homemade onion rings at age 12. It was no surprise that her very first job was working in the kitchen at the Milner nursing home in Rossville. 

“I’ve always loved food and I’ve always loved cooking,” Reed says. “But I didn’t think I would become a chef. I went to school to study food nutrition and journalism. I wanted to write about food. But I never stopped cooking.” 

Reed earned her bachelor’s degree from Indiana State, cooking at commercial restaurants throughout her collegiate years. When an upscale wine bar opened in Terre Haute, she contacted the executive chef who agreed to give her a two-week trial in the kitchen. It was a trial by fire. 

“It was me and a bunch of older guys; I was the baby,” Reed says. “I was the only woman. I had to climb my way up and I did. I ended up taking the grill job from the guy who was on the grill and he never spoke English to me again. He hated me after that because he had to wash dishes.” 

Though her skills were undeniable, she still faced sexism in the kitchens where she worked in the form of lewd comments, unwanted touching and targeted harassment. At one point, she worked as the head grill cook at a busy steakhouse, grilling upwards of 50 steaks at a time to temperature. She’d be in the walk-in cooler unwrapping steaks and coworkers would turn the lights off on her. Once, the general manager cornered her in the dish room and a bunch of guys laughed as she was sprayed down with the dish hose. She had to finish the final five hours of her shift in sopping wet jeans. 

“It’s very hard to be a woman in a kitchen, especially a male-dominated kitchen, which many of them are,” Reed says. “It takes a strong personality. You have to hold your own. 

You have to work harder and you have to work smarter. It’s an unfortunate culture that I had to endure. But I’m very proud of where I’ve been able to go and now, I’m the only chef here. I don’t have anyone to disrespect me. My kitchen is my own little baby.” 

When Reed first started the dinners at Prophetstown, she worked out of a much smaller residential galley kitchen that still exists adjacent to the compact commercial kitchen nestled in the basement of the farmhouse. Former Tippecanoe County Commissioner Nola Gentry was a big supporter of the farm and its mission and donated the funding to install the sleek stainless steel commercial kitchen that serves as home base for Reed and her small team of helpers who put on the dinners. After everything is served, Reed takes time to visit with every table to express her appreciation for the diners. 

“I love the mission of the farm; I love what I do,” Reed says. “I want our guests to enjoy a unique experience, to talk with the other diners and maybe make a new friend. I hope they get to experience ingredients they haven’t tried before or perhaps haven’t had prepared in that way. That they experience this place and want to support what we do here.”  ★

About The Farm 

The Farm at Prophetstown is a historic living farm museum set on 125 acres in Prophetstown State Park complete with a 1920s Sears, Roebuck & Co. replica farmhouse, outbuildings, orchard, livestock pens, pasture and croplands. For more information about events at the farm, visit prophetstown.org. 

Reserve Your Seat

Reservations for the first wave of farm-to-table dinners this year opened January 10. A second block of dinners, scheduled from August 13 to November 4 will be available for booking on April 11. Call the farm at 765-567-4700 to claim your spot. 

Know Before You Go

• No more than six spots per reservation. Larger parties are encouraged to schedule a private dinner.

• Payment is due at the time of reservation. Refunds offered with cancellations made at least 48 hours in advance. 

• All guests must be 21 years of age or older. 

• No menu substitutions. Vegetarian options may be available upon pre-arranged request. 

• Out of respect to fellow diners, please arrive on time. 

• As a small kitchen using farm-to-table ingredients, cross-contamination of allergens cannot be prevented.

Prophetstown State Park requires guests to pay $8 per vehicle for park admission, which is free with a farm membership or annual state park pass.  

BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS PROVIDED

Greater Lafayette has been named Community of the Year by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The award recognizes the community’s growth over the past decade and how it has prospered and thrived in a variety of areas, from infrastructure and jobs to beautification and quality of life. 

This year’s award looked, too, for a municipality that was a shining example during a year of weathering the pandemic.  

A large part of the credit for being chosen for this award goes to the various components that define our community, says Scott Walker, president and CEO of Greater Lafayette Commerce, and their ability to communicate, to plan, and to work together. As the application was assembled and written, Walker says, it became evident just how much planning had gone into the progress of the past 20 years.

“We looked back at where we’d been over the course of two decades, the evolution of the community, the trajectory, and why we should be considered for this award,” Walker says. 

Back at the start of the 21st century, the community looked very different. And community, Walker says, is defined as the entirety of the area, with both cities and the county governments all working together. All these governing bodies were collaborating on a vision of what they wanted to see over the coming years. Hence Lafayette Urban Enterprise, Vision 2020 and the Downtown Development Corp. all played a role, as well as incorporating input from all three school corporations, leaders in industry, the arts and recreational facilities. 

Back in 2000, the population of Tippecanoe County was at 149,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Walker said leadership could see that the community was poised for potential growth, but it wanted to be prepared and for the growth to be intentional. 

The result was these various entities examining where the community was at the time, what the trends were, and what Greater Lafayette wanted to accomplish. A clear goal was attracting business and industry that would provide good-paying jobs that would contribute to the economy and would enhance quality of life for residents. The area has a strong manufacturing workforce, and the focus on talent and workforce retention has resulted in more than 3,800 jobs being added in the past five years. This is thanks to companies as diverse as Caterpillar, Antique Candle, Copper Moon Coffee and Schweitzer Engineering Labs, to name a few. 

And along with that, Greater Lafayette needed a community that would attract these businesses; needed neighborhoods, restaurants, parks, schools, and arts and culture that would make life attractive for families. This investment came in various forms, from public projects such as Lafayette Downtown Development Plan, the Hoosier Heartland Development Plan, the Five Points Development Plan and the Wabash River Development Plan. 

 The State Street Corridor, one example of these improvement plans, was a $120 million effort that transformed State Street, a major artery that runs through the heart of West Lafayette and the Purdue University campus. The transformation reduced automotive lanes and integrated other modes of transportation. It included public transit bus pull-offs, wider sidewalks and bike paths, increasing safety and outdoor seating for local retailers and restaurateurs. It also enabled upgrades to the water and sewer infrastructure and set the stage for the redevelopment of West State Street and Discovery Park District. The effort has led to both additional privately developed housing and office facilities, as well as helping expand the community’s parks, walking and bike trail systems. 

Other major public-private projects include housing developments in both Lafayette and West Lafayette, including The Marq, Pullman Station, The Press, LUNA, The HUB, RISE and the Ellsworth. In addition, Lafayette invested in a Downtown Streetscape project, which included sidewalk improvements, art installations, outdoor dining facilities and upgrades to pedestrian traffic; these upgrades were supported in part by downtown merchants. All of these urban housing developments have helped create a downtown that is active and dynamic. These projects are supported by tax increment finance (TIF) dollars. 
Purdue University Airport
Loeb Stadium

Quality of life projects also contributed to the community’s revitalization, including a new Loeb Stadium, upgrades to the Columbian Park Zoo and Tropicanoe Cove water park, as well as other updates to Columbian Park. The Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds underwent a major renovation, and the Wabash Riverfront is looking at a $150 million investment, including the Riverfront Promenade, which was completed in 2020.

Ultimately, Walker says, all groups came together to work toward this common goal. Today, with the 2019 population at 195,732, the growth clearly did occur. And because of the planning, the communication, the collaboration, the county was prepared to absorb and accommodate that growth. As evidence? Many school districts in Indiana are seeing a decline in sizes of incoming kindergarten classes; in Tippecanoe County, schools have all seen significant growth and kindergarten class sizes have increased, says Walker. The area is clearly a destination; the $250 million investment in education over the past five years — including the implementation of the Greater Lafayette Career Academy — has paid off. 

For Walker, this award speaks, in great part, to a process. And it’s a process that involved the input of so many entities — from the cities, the county, parks departments, Purdue and the public schools, and business and industry — partnering and working together. 

“It appears that the city, the county, we’re all on the same page with the same goals and objectives,” Walker says. “We’re at a point where people are working together, collaboratively. We’re all pulling on the rope in the same direction. This is a well-run region.

“It’s that planning element that we’ve embraced in this community that works so well.”  ★

The Greater Lafayette Region is on the cusp of something big!  

On December 15, at 4 p.m., at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation Board Meeting, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced that Greater Lafayette will receive $30 million to fund projects in the Regional Economic Development Plan created this past summer.  You can find the plan and more information here: greaterlafayetteind.com/READI

 The $30 million awarded to Greater Lafayette was part of the READI announcement of $500 million allocated across the state of Indiana.  The governor’s plan is to increase quality-of-place and quality-of-life spending to enable regions around the state to compete for talent from across the United States and around the world. 

As a destination for talent, Greater Lafayette has a head start.  With Purdue University and the great companies that are well established in our region, people already make their way here from around the world.  The Regional Development Plan with the READI Funds will accelerate that trend and help all of the participating counties — Benton, Fountain, Warren, Carroll, White and Tippecanoe — capture some of that growth. 

While the ultimate decision on project funding will reside with the Greater Lafayette Regional Board of Representatives and has yet to be finalized, these were a few of the top ranked projects:

 

 ► Runway for Growth: LAF airport expansion to bring commercial air service to Greater Lafayette;

Supporting Our Families: Expanding high-quality childcare across the region;

Smart Relocations and Welcoming Veterans: Two projects to attract talent to Greater Lafayette;

► A Place to Call Home: Greater Lafayette Residential Development Plan; and

► Wabash River Greenways: Investments in trail systems around the Wabash River.

The process to create the Regional Development Plan over the course of the summer was the first time that the regional mayors and representatives from each county commission worked together. 

Greater Lafayette Commerce was proud to serve as the organizer. It was an unprecedented level of collaboration, and the group will continue to work over the next four years to bring the projects in the plan to life and work together to make this place, this region, Greater! 

Scott Walker is the president and CEO of Greater Lafayette Commerce. He can be reached at 765.742.4044

 

BY KAT BRAZ

Lafayette Urban Ministry (LUM) established its Immigration Clinic in 2014. That year, the clinic saw 70 clients, providing assistance with various issues such as citizenship, consideration for DACA, applying for emergency visas, asylum or green cards.

Over the past seven years, the program has continued to grow, offering services to clients looking to legally immigrate into the United States. These are people who have already relocated to the Greater La-fayette community and are seeking legal assistance to acquire a visa, green card or gain citizenship status.

“It’s the only clinic offering immi-gration services of its kind within the surrounding eight-county area,” says Rev. Wes Tillett, executive di-rector of LUM. “We provide aid to a variety of people of different status-es, refugees, asylum seekers, people needing a work visa or a green card. Our clients could be feeling violence in their home country or just trying to get a better start for their family in the United States.”
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 12 percent of Tippecanoe County’s population are foreign-born—that’s more than 23,000 residents. Of those, around 18,000 individuals are non-citizens, which include some people who do not consider themselves true immigrants, such as international students and expatriates from other countries.

In 2020, the LUM Immigration Clinic provided help in 120 different cases, down from 256 in 2019. Due to the pandemic, LUM was not able to hold its popular citizenship class-es in partnership with the Lafayette Adult Resource Academy. Still, a dedicated group of about a dozen trained and accredited volunteers has pressed on, under the leadership of the clinic’s two paid positions
— a full-time director and half-time assistant director — to keep the clinic operating under COVID-19 protocols.

“A lot of the work is just listening and learning the person’s story,” Tillett says. “We have to understand who the person is in front of us, where they are at and how they got here. And sometimes, the stories are just heartbreaking to hear what they are up against, what they are trying to flee or what they are working toward.”

Immigration Clinic Director Christian Gallo grew up in Bue-nos Aires, Argentina. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Cole-gio Champagnat, master in laws degree from Indiana University, and JD from Universidad Católica Argentina. Gallo has many years of experience in immigration law and speaks four languages: Spanish, English, Italian and Portuguese. His first-hand experience as an immi-grant himself enables him to quickly build rapport with many clinic clients.

“I understand what these peo-ple go through to immigrate to the U.S.,” Gallo says. “Some of them went through a lot of dangers to get here. And even if they didn’t, they arrive here and can feel kind of lost. Sometimes receiving a little help with something simple can mean so much to a person who is new to the country and doesn’t understand how bureaucracy works here.

“We are not just helping people get a better job or more income. We are changing their lives. We are giving them opportunities for themselves and for their families, for their children.”

For Gallo, every case is person-al. The needs to be met can vary immensely. Some clients might be looking for a better job or higher income, others might be trying to re-unite with a wife or child or perhaps it’s a trailing academic spouse who followed their partner to the area and now wants to establish citizen-ship or apply for a work visa.

“It’s very rewarding work,” Gallo says. “When you see the looks on their faces, that sensation of extreme happiness, it means so much. Sometimes they don’t have words, they just repeat ‘thank you’ over and over. In that instant, their life just changed for the better.”

Whether a person entered the country legally or illegally, they can still be entitled to certain benefits under the law. The mission of the clinic is to help people who are already in the area —encompassing Tippecanoe and surrounding counties — get access to those benefits, regardless of their immigration status. It’s work that aligns with LUM’s overall mission as an organization with a Judeo-Christian heritage.

“Our organization has strong Judeo-Christian roots,” Tillett says. “Harkening back to the Exodus story, there is definitely a command to be hospitable to the sojourner in your midst, because you, too, were once foreigners in Egypt. That command is still pertinent to Jews and Christians trying to obey those scriptures. From a core theological standpoint, that’s part of who we are and part of what we’re trying to do.

“On a more humanitarian level, we are simply trying to be good neighbors. We especially want
to fill the gaps in the community where no other organization is able to meet that need. Immigration is one of those areas, especially seven years ago, that LUM identified as something we could do to help our neighbors from other parts of the world who are having a difficult time navigating through the bureaucracy and getting the legal status that they need.”

The impact of the clinic is summed up by a note of thanks Jaqueline Valera wrote to LUM expressing gratitude for the assistance she and her husband, Ricardo, received from the clinic.

“Since obtaining the LUM Immigration Clinic’s help with our immigration process, my husband was able to obtain his work permit. His income has helped me out with my family and school debt. I no longer have to work two or three jobs. I no longer have to miss important family moments. I no longer have to choose work over my health. We would not be where we are today without your help.” ★

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS

As a student office staff worker in Cary Quadrangle, a century-old, sprawling residential complex on Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus, Michaela Hixson is continually steeped in dormitory culture.

Romance blossoming on the graveyard shift. Mysterious snack food deliveries with unknown recipients. Guys in boxers parading out the doors during nighttime fire drills.

And then there was the time a student showed up in the basement simply wrapped in a bath towel. “No shoes, water on him, dripping, and he said, ‘Can I please have the key to my room?!’” Hixson exclaims, laughing.

For the West Lafayette, Indiana, resident, these adventures in collegiate life started long before the SATs were even on her radar. During her sophomore year at Harrison High School, while Hixson was working at a local ice cream shop, her mom shared a summer job opening — no undergraduate experience necessary.

“It was fun for me to see how college worked, to already be in that college environment in high school, dip my toe in for what was to come,” says Hixson, who just completed her sophomore year in Purdue’s College of Science. After beginning as a seasonal employee four years ago, Hixson has expanded to year-round employment, gaining important skills in teamwork, responsibility and time management along the way.

As adults, we may joke about our summers flipping burgers or blowing a whistle at the neighborhood pool. But in truth, these experiences typically offer far more than a paycheck or a bullet point on a college application. As summer heats up in Greater Lafayette, we present a sampling of paid and volunteer opportunities for your favorite teenagers, along with a few of the life lessons that the jobs may impart.

ACADEMIA

Purdue University
West Lafayette
purdue.edu

From serving as day camp counselors to prepping residence halls for fall, Purdue University typically has offered a plethora of summer jobs to local high schoolers and undergraduates. With a pause on staff hiring, the university has fewer openings for 2021. At press time, we found postings for such positions as custodians, groundskeepers, network operators and Purdue Surplus Store workers, some of which required applicants to possess a high school diploma or GED or be currently enrolled at Purdue.

See current opportunities at careers.purdue.edu. The Center for Career Opportunities shows jobs available at Purdue and beyond for current Purdue students and alumni; visit cco.purdue.edu/Home/myCCO

HOSPITALITY

Cafe Literato
West Lafayette
literatocafe.com

Located just a mile up the road from Mackey Arena, Café Literato is a brick oven pizza and espresso bar located in the Faith West complex of apartments, a fitness center, church facilities and a daycare. With both indoor and outdoor seating, the restaurant serves as a gathering spot and study hub.

Eric Black, a West Lafayette Junior/Senior High School graduate who started there at 19, was promoted to manager a few months later; now, two years in, he hopes to return to Ivy Tech soon to pursue a career in the restaurant industry.
He says that teen workers aged 17 and up can take orders, prep toppings and make beverages while honing communication and customer service skills.

“The owners say that we are in the business of people,” Black says.

“You won’t find a lot of environments to work in where you can tell that the people genuinely care and are friendly and social.”

A nice perk on top of the paycheck and all the friendliness: A free drink on each shift, along with a substantially discounted meal.

Copper Moon Coffee Company
Lafayette & West Lafayette

coppermooncoffee.com

Lafayette, Indiana-based Copper Moon Coffee Company boasts four café locations in the area, with more likely coming soon. Nick Thompson, vice president of sales and marketing, says the retail locations hire workers starting at age 16 to take orders, clean, and prepare food and beverages.

“There’s a lot of opportunities to be creative with our cafés,” he adds. “We encourage our team to come up with new creations, new drinks, new flavors.” In fact, one of Copper Moon’s seasonal specialties, the Lunar Fog — an Earl Grey tea latte with vanilla, similar to a London Fog — emerged out of an employee competition.

Even if teen baristas don’t win a design-a-drink challenge, they will gain skills in face-to-face communication, collaboration and sales. Additionally, says Thompson, “I think it would be pretty impressive, a cool, fun party trick, that they know how to make really good coffee drinks and maybe even do some art with the lattes.”

RECREATION

Get Air Trampoline Park
Lafayette
getairsports.com

Adolescents who couldn’t wait for PE class to start when they were in elementary school might feel right at home at Get Air Trampoline Park, located in a strip mall on the south side near Noble Roman’s Craft Pizza and Pub.

Teenage workers (typically 16 years and older) begin as lifeguards — “patrolling the park to make sure that everyone is being safe and having fun,” says Tyler Dubea, general manager. “Sometimes this would be refereeing dodgeball games, making sure that only one person is going in the foam pit at a time, or just engaging in small talk with parents.”

Dubea delights in teaching his charges the fundamentals of business success, such as teamwork and leadership. Beyond that, “I strive to learn about all of our employees, and figure out what they want to do after school, and teach them as much as possible about that aspect of our business,” he says. “I have had someone that wants to be a graphic designer, so we have discussed some of our park advertising, our target demo, and let them use their skills to design something
for us.”

McAllister Recreation Center
Lafayette
lafayette.in.gov

Outdoorsy types can enjoy fresh air and sunshine while chaperoning kids at McAllister Recreation Center’s summer day camp, located near 18th and Greenbush streets in the former Longlois Elementary School. The facility features a gymnasium, rec room, ball fields and lots of green space.

From late May through early August, counselors 16 and up plan theme weeks, attend development sessions and supervise youngsters on field trips to Lafayette pools and parks. Adolescents aged 13 to 15 can enroll in the Head Camper program, training for future summers.

“We pride ourselves on summer camp being a fun and rewarding experience both for kids and counselors,” says Ashley Conner, seasonal camp counselor with the City of Lafayette. “Counselors learn how to effectively communicate with children, peers and parents. They also learn strategies for managing children in a group setting.” While camp staff are typically hired by May, local teens can set their sights on jobs for 2022. 

ANIMAL CARE

Pooch Palace Resort
Lafayette & West Lafayette
poochpalaceresorts.com

With two locations in Greater Lafayette offering boarding services, doggie day care, grooming and group training classes, Pooch Palace Resort is a delightful get-paid-to-do-what-you-love opportunity for teens who can’t get enough of canines. “The biggest part of what makes this place fun is just being able to work/play and care for dogs all day long,” says owner Paul Whitehurst. Teen employees assist in the daycare and overnight areas by feeding dogs, taking them on breaks and cuddling and playing with their furry clients.

Emily Chubb works at Pooch Palace when she’s not attending class at Harrison High School or performing on Turning Point Academy’s dance team. “The dogs all have different personalities and there are no two dogs that are alike. This makes the day a lot more fun,” she enthuses. Along with discovering characteristics of different breeds, Chubb says she’s also learned about communication, time management and teamwork on the job. “The people around me always have a positive attitude,” she says. “It’s been a great learning experience.”

Whitehurst sees another proficiency that the teen has developed: leadership. Chubb is “one of our most dedicated and hard-working staff members,” he says. “She came to us as a very quiet and shy teen and has blossomed to where she is now training other staff members.”

Columbian Park Zoo
Lafayette
columbianparkzoo.org

From a Galapagos Tortoise to prairie dogs to the Laughing Kookaburra, the Columbian Park Zoo showcases wildlife from around the world in exhibits that teach visitors about conservation and biodiversity. For adolescents contemplating animal-related careers, the facility offers the immersive Zoo Teens opportunity.

Volunteers aged 14 to 17 who are accepted into the program perform non-dangerous tasks under the supervision of professional zookeepers and educators, such as cleaning and food preparation. Zoo Teens also interact frequently with humans as well, gaining confidence in public speaking and small-group communication, says Courtney Nave, zoo assistant education coordinator. “I’ve seen such growth, not just in interpersonal skills, but being leaders, through this program,” she says.

Applications have already closed for this summer; but check the website for late openings and other opportunities. ★

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Jon Miner knows first-hand the magic spell Loeb Stadium has woven over Greater Lafayette youths since 1940.

In 1984, at 15, Miner stepped foot on the Loeb Stadium infield for the first time as a member of Lafayette Jeff’s freshman baseball team and as a player for Firefighters in the Colt Recreation League.

“Growing up in this community and playing youth baseball, that was always a big deal to go to Loeb Stadium and watch a baseball game (and) hopefully play there one day,” says Miner, who played two years of varsity baseball at Jeff and visited Loeb Stadium as a senior member of the McCutcheon High School team.

Miner is now the director of operations for the Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department. At the time of this interview, the renovated Loeb Stadium was just a few weeks away from opening day.

The renovation project spearheaded by Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski will make sure thousands of baseball players – and hopefully other athletes – will continue to play inside Loeb Stadium for decades to come. The renovation, which was estimated to cost $20 million, was completed on schedule for Lafayette Jeff’s baseball season opener against Central Catholic on March 31.

“The driving vision behind it, Mayor Roswarski who grew up in this community and knowing the history of Loeb Stadium, was to design and build a facility that would last another 80 years, like the old Loeb Stadium did, if not longer,” Miner says. “To give this community not just a wonderful venue for baseball but a wonderful venue for other community events.”

Roswarski’s vision for the new Loeb Stadium includes the potential to host soccer and football games as well as non-sporting events such as concerts. The new stadium has a seating capacity of 2,600.

“I think when it’s finally open and we break out of this pandemic and people are able to get into the stadium and watch an event – whether it be a baseball game, a soccer game or a concert – they are going to be really pleased with how this stadium has turned out,” Miner says.

There was much anticipation in Greater Lafayette when a front-page headline in the Journal and Courier on July 2, 1940, proclaimed “Park Stadium for Athletic and Cultural Events to be Memorial to Solomon Loeb.”

Bert and June Loeb contributed $50,000 (almost $935,000 in today’s dollars) for the construction of a 3,152-seat reinforced concrete structure inside Columbian Park. The stadium was named Columbian Park Recreation Center, which remained until 1971 when it was renamed Loeb Stadium.

Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski addresses the crowd at the March 31 grand opening of Loeb Stadium.
Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame Head Coach Paul E. “Spider” Fields poses with the Lafayette Jeff Baseball team.
Fans bundled up in the new stadium seating to watch the Lafayette Jeff Bronchos take on the Central Catholic Knights.

“Its purpose being to serve as a public stadium for athletic, cultural and educational events of various kinds; in fact any legitimate entertainment under sun or stars,” the 1940 article stated.

With lights installed as part of the construction, the stadium was projected to not only host baseball games but softball games, boxing matches, concerts, pageants and even horse shows.

Architect Walter Scholer had the foresight to make the stadium dimensions of Major League Baseball stadiums with 333 feet down the left field line, 404 feet to center field and 322 feet down the right field line. Retaining similar distances in the 2021 renovation required some out-of-the-box thinking.

When the decision was made to rotate the field 180 degrees from its original layout, placing home plate near the corner of Main Street and Wallace Avenue, the right field area needed a few extra feet. Since moving the zoo was out of the question, architects came up with a plan to extend the stadium entrance a few feet from the original footprint into Main.

But even that idea wasn’t as simple as it sounds.

“A lot of the fiber infrastructure in this community comes right up Main Street,” Miner says. “There’s only so far you can go into Main Street before you have to get into relocating that.”

Making the most of every foot available, home plate is positioned just a few yards from the corner of Main and Wallace.

When it comes to construction in Indiana weather, nothing comes easily. Toss in a shutdown of nearly a month in April 2020 due to COVID-19 precautions and it’s amazing that the project was completed in time for the Lafayette Jeff baseball season.

“All the contractors have done a marvelous job working through the snow we had, the cold snaps,” Miner says. “We couldn’t be more pleased with their work.”

The new Loeb Stadium also will serve as the front door to the 21st century Columbian Park. Spectators will have a view of the new carousel building beyond the centerfield fence, plus Tropicanoe Cove and the water slides just past left field.

Fans sitting in the suite level will be able to follow the progress of construction going on at Memorial Island.

“It was important to build a beautiful stadium and have the viewpoints be on the inside of Columbian Park and not have the people in the stands looking out into Oakland School, the Frozen Custard and Arni’s,” Miner says. “I think it brings Loeb Stadium more into the park and it will transform Main Street.

“We’re going to have state-of-the-art lighting, state-of-the-art concession facilities. There’s not really a bad seat in the stadium to view a baseball game. Then we have the video board that is really going to add to whatever event is going on there. This is something even communities with nice baseball stadiums don’t have.” ★

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

The Spinning Axe
Barbara Huddleston spent years growing her catering and event business. At the start of 2020, her calendar was booked with weddings, parties and corporate events. When the pandemic forced the cancellation of large gatherings, Huddleston watched her business evaporate almost overnight. During a trip to Bowling Green, Kentucky, over Labor Day weekend, she discovered a new passion — axe throwing.

“We actually went to visit Mammoth Cave, but it was closed due to COVID,” Huddleston says. “Looking for other things to do we found an axe throwing place near our hotel. About four throws in, I realized I loved it. I knew I needed to bring this sport back to Lafayette.”

That’s right. Urban axe throwing is a worldwide sport growing in popularity. The World Axe Throwing League, formed in 2017 by representatives from Canada, the United States, Brazil and Ireland, holds sanctioned tournaments year-round. Budding future champions could reside right here in Tippecanoe County and get their start at Huddleston’s latest enterprise, The Spinning Axe, 351 South St., Lafayette. After returning from her trip, Huddleston leased the location and took about seven weeks transforming a former sushi restaurant into an axe throwing venue and bar serving wine, beer, liquor and snacks such as nachos, pizza, soft pretzels and popcorn.

The family-friendly venue (they recommend ages 10 and up, depending on the physical ability of the child) accepts walk-ins and reservations, which are encouraged for large groups and on Saturdays. After signing a waiver, guests are assigned to a lane and an axe coach reviews safety precautions, gives pointers and explains different types of games that can be played. At the end of the lane, a large round bullseye painted on wooden boards serves as the target.

“I’ve been surprised at the number of women who’ve shown interest in axe throwing,” Huddleston says. “They want to do a girls night out, they want to schedule a date night. That’s been a really cool thing. Axe throwing isn’t as scary as it sounds. Our trained axe coaches will show you how to do it safely. We’re going to help you have a great time.”=

The Spinning Axe is open seven days a week. Cost per hour: Adults $22; Children $15. Military, fire and police personnel receive a discounted rate of $17/hour.
facebook.com/thespinningaxe

Lafayette, IN - The Spinning Axe
Lafayette, Indiana - The Spinning Axe

Learning to Thrive
Struggling to take your vitamins? Thrive IV Lounge, 1343 Sagamore Pkwy N, Lafayette, offers a relaxing and hydrating infusion of vitamins, minerals and nutrients directly into your bloodstream for maximum effect. Administered by registered nurses using the same medical grade supplies found in hospitals, the medspa offers an array of therapy treatments to boost immune function, bring migraine relief, reduce inflammation and even recover from a hangover.

Owner Sarah Kurtz was inspired to open an IV lounge after learning about the rising popularity of drip spas in other parts of the country. As an emergency room nurse for the past seven years, Kurtz wanted to offer preventative care that might help keep chronic condition patients out of the ER.

“There’s just not enough information out there for people to understand the importance of how to prevent getting sick,” Kurtz says. “By building the immune system, getting a lot of sleep, staying, hydrated, taking the correct vitamins and eating healthy you can prevent a lot of things from being a lot worse. After all these years in medicine, I’m just taking a different approach to help people get there.”

Once a client fills out paperwork covering medical history, medications, allergies, height and weight, the Thrive IV nursing staff checks vital signs before discussing available drip treatments. Once the IV is started, it takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to complete the infusion. There are three private treatment rooms as well as a large communal lounge which Kurtz hopes to open up as the pandemic slows down.

Afraid of needles? Thrive IV offers a numbing spray to help ease the discomfort. Or you can skip the IV and order an injection instead. The biggest seller is the skinny shot, a special blend of hydrating fluids and vitamins to boost metabolism. Pair it with a Beauty Blend IV treatment for a fully rejuvenating experience. Not ready to leave the house? Thrive IV’s mobile concierge service brings wellness to the comfort of your living room.

“One liter of IV fluids that we give you is equivalent to drinking two gallons of water,” Kurtz says. “Results vary depending on the type of treatment and an individual’s metabolism, but the benefits of IV therapy usually last about five days to a week.”

Memberships are available for clients who want to make Thrive IV a regular part of their wellness routine. Though Thrive IV offers a relaxing, calming atmosphere, all IV medspas are regulated by the state of Indiana and must maintain the same safety standards as medical clinics and hospitals. All medications, vitamins and supplies are FDA approved. An ER physician serves as medical director, overseeing the lounge. IVs are administered by experienced ER nurses with the critical care skills to identify anything abnormal in a client’s session and refer clients to the ER or urgent care if necessary.

Thrive IV is open Thursday through Monday. Follow them on social media for daily deals and monthly specials.
thethriveiv.com

Lafayette, Indiana Thrive IV Lounge

Big Woods Restaurant and Bar | 516 Northwestern Ave., West Lafayette
Originating in Nashville, Indiana, in 2009, the opening of a Big Woods Restaurant and Bar in West Lafayette marks the Big Woods Village’s 10th
location — and the farthest north. With its focused menu of signature pizzas and a selection of burgers and sandwiches, Big Woods offers a cozy sports bar environment in the location formerly occupied by The Stacked Pickle on Purdue’s campus. Cocktails of the month feature spirits crafted by Hard Truth Hills, a division of the Big Woods brand also based in Nashville. Craft beer lovers will devour the Big Woods Quaff ON! beers, such as Busted Knuckle, Hare Trigger and Yellow Dwarf.
bigwoodsrestaurants.com/west-lafayette

Big Woods Restaurant in West Lafayette Indiana
Copper Moon Coffee in West Lafayette, Indiana

Copper Moon Coffee | 351 Sagamore Pkwy & 225 S. University St., West Lafayette
Brothers Brad and Cary Gutwein purchased Copper Moon Coffee (originally founded in the late 1960s) in 2007 and relaunched the business in Lafayette. Now with four locations throughout Tippecanoe County and a booming retail business, Copper Moon is the largest family-owned coffee company in the Midwest. The latest two locations include a spot on Purdue’s campus inside the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building and a standalone café in the former Salin Bank building next to Dog n Suds on Sagamore Parkway.

“We are delighted at the opportunity to continue expanding our reach into West Lafayette,” says Brad Gutwien, CEO of Copper Moon Coffee, in a January 2020 press release. “We think this in an ideal location that will be easy to access for most of the West Lafayette community.”
coppermooncoffee.com

Reveille Coffee Bar | 835 Main St., Lafayette
The inviting French-inspired décor of Reveille Coffee Bar creates a warm and welcoming ambiance the moment you step in the door. This cozy spot with friendly baristas churns out all manner of gourmet coffees, specialty teas, decadent hot chocolates and iced brews. Featuring a rotating selection
of locally made pastries, Reveille is the ideal spot to lounge away a morning.
reveillelafayette.com

Reveille Coffee Bar in Lafayette Indiana
Ritual Cocktail Bar in Lafayette, Indiana

Ritual Cocktail Bar | 211 N. Second St., Lafayette
The intimate, classy lounge vibe at Ritual Cocktail Bar quickly garnered a reputation for one of the coolest spots in town. A streamlined food menu features upscale snacks such as almond breaded duck tenders and roasted whole cremini mushrooms. But here, craft cocktails are the main attraction. Mixologists reimagine classic drink recipes and combine house-made syrups, bitters and juices; specialty spirits and unusual ingredients to create memorable concoctions that are meant to be savored, like a ritual. Feeling extra swanky? Stop by for Rat Pack night to sip your libation while listening to Sinatra, every Tuesday before 9 p.m.
ritual-bar.com

Ripple & Co. | 1007 Main St., Lafayette
Fans of East End Grill have eagerly awaited the opening of Ripple and Co., a fast-casual dining concept located across the street from the high-end restaurant and run by the same executive leadership team. The new multilevel eatery features a spacious second floor with outdoor dining and a private event space. Downstairs, the atmosphere of the lively counter-service restaurant is reminiscent of a food hall. Executive chef Ambarish Lulay brings the same elevated sensibilities found at East End to Ripple & Co.’s menu. Smoked meats, pork belly and “really good tofu” are just a few of the crave-inducing items available. With both cocktails and beers on tap, Ripple & Co. is an exciting addition to upper Main Street. Plus, a partnership with Greyhouse Coffee means you can pick up your favorite cup of joe while you’re there.
eastendmain.com/ripple-company

Ripple and Co. in Lafayette Indiana
Rusty Taco in Lafayette Indiana

Rusty Taco | 3209 Builder Drive, Lafayette
Serving up authentic street tacos at affordable prices, Rusty Taco’s festive ambience encourages friends and family to linger over margaritas while enjoying boldly flavored tacos. With more than 30 locations around the country, each one emulates a neighborhood taco stand. An array of breakfast tacos is available all day. The handmade street taco menu features roasted pork, brisket, baja shrimp and fried chicken. Rusty’s commitment to high-quality ingredients and making food fresh-to-order ensures satisfaction in every bite. Wash it down with an ice-cold margarita and experience bliss.
rustytaco.com

Wolfies Northern Woods Grill | 352 E. State St., West Lafayette
Scott and Nyla Wolf opened their first Wolfies location in 2004. Designed for the “seeker in all things sports, nature and food,” Wolfies offers a casual sports-themed environment in the Wabash Landing site formerly occupied by Scotty’s Brewhouse. The West Lafayette location is the eighth in the state and the first to venture away from the Indianapolis area. The expansive menu is packed with sharable starters, salads, wings, ribs, seafood, sandwiches, tacos and burgers. Thirsty? Try one of the 30 local and regional beers on tap, along with a full bar featuring craft cocktails. One thing is certain, you won’t go hungry at Wolfies.
wolfiesgrill.com/West-Lafayette

Wolfies in West Lafayette Indiana

Stay up-to-date on new businesses and more by following Greater Lafayette Commerce on Facebook or visit greaterlafayettecommerce.com

BY RADONNA FIORINI
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Located west of the Marq Apartments and Old National Bank along the Wabash River, the Riverside Promenade Deck was dedicated in July 2020 and represents the first completed project in the
“Two Cities, One River” master plan designed to enhance the quality of life along the Wabash, says Stan Lambert, executive director of the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation.

The promenade is a city block long, rising above railroad tracks and the river bank. It connects on the north to the John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge next to Reihle Plaza, and to Columbia Street on the south, says Eric Lucas, principal with MKSK, the landscape architecture and urban design company that oversaw the project. Access also is available from the Marq building.

Because railroad tracks prevent access or a good view of the river from ground level, the promenade is at bridge level and pedestrians can enjoy a good view of the waterway without obstruction. The deck zig zags a bit, meandering through the space to mimic the flow of the river.

“The whole space takes its shape from the river,” Lucas says. “Seats rise up and tilt in different angles so the space mimics the river both horizontally and vertically. It is 15 feet wide at the narrowest spot, and 30 feet or so at its widest.” The configuration includes spaces large enough to accommodate a band or other type of entertainment.

The deck is constructed of sustainable, durable hardwood slats and steel beams with stainless steel cable netting around the perimeter. Planting areas and free-standing containers have been seeded with native pollinator flowers and grasses.

Decorative pole lights line the walkway and glowing lights under the benches brighten the pathway from dusk into the night. Even the area directly under the deck has been incorporated into the overall plan, says Lucas. A few metal grates were installed so walkers can look 20-feet down and see vegetation below. Native trees and ornamental shrubs have been planted there, some of which will eventually grow up through the grates, turning the deck into a more natural landscape.

Another feature people enjoy is an Americans With Disabilities Act-accessible walkway that connects the promenade deck to Reihle Plaza and Main Street. The gently sloping walk is a favorite with bikers and those with limited mobility, allowing stairless access from the street to the deck and the pedestrian bridge leading into West Lafayette, Lucas says.

Dennis Carson, Lafayette economic development director, says, “It’s a great event space – wide and with excellent views of the river. Even though COVID has shut a lot of things down, I see people walking on the deck and having their lunch there. We’ll be able to use it more fully in the future.”

Carson calls the Wabash a “great asset” and sees lots of opportunities for public use, recreation and private development along the river. The enhancement effort along the Wabash has been underway for more than a decade, as it began in earnest in 2004 when the WREC was formed.

The last 17 years have been spent creating and refining the master plan for public and private development along the river in Tippecanoe, Fountain, Warren and Carroll counties; creating partnerships between government officials, Purdue University, and private entities; acquiring land along the river bank; and working on watershed issues, says WREC’s Lambert.

The plan envisions a time when the river becomes the “…healthy, beautiful centerpiece of a whole, interconnected community. Building on the river’s beauty, the plan seeks to restore a healthy river ecosystem and create recreation and related amenities to create a unique quality of life and make the region a place of choice—especially for attracting and retaining employees in the high technology and bio-life sciences sectors.”

With a solid road map in place, the non-profit WREC is ready to move forward with some of the proposed projects, particularly in the Lafayette/West Lafayette urban corridor, but funding is always an issue.

The promenade deck project was pushed to the front of the line in 2015 when private developers started work on the mixed-use development that now houses the Marq apartments and Old National Bank regional headquarters.

“The promenade was in the masterplan, so we had to do it concurrently (with the Old National development) if it was going to happen,” Lambert says. “We had to get the whole project completed, including fundraising, in a very short time.”

With a $2.2 million grant from North Central Health Services, $600,000 from the city of Lafayette, and $485,000 from WREC, work on the promenade began in 2016 with plans to wrap up in about a year. Several construction setbacks and COVID-19 slowdowns pushed the finish date to 2020, but the $3.2 million project is now complete.

No other brick and mortar projects are currently underway along the riverfront, but the WREC is refining plans for the river corridor and pursuing grants and private donations for remediation of some industrial sites and development of greenspaces. The WREC has purchased 28 properties along the Wabash in Tippecanoe County and will work on river bank restoration and stormwater management.

A $325,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the United States Environmental Protection Agency awarded in March will help the corporation address water quality issues in this area of the Wabash River watershed, according to information from WREC Watershed Coordinator Shannon Stanis, who will oversee the grant.

Most of that money will go toward a cost-sharing program that encourages those living within the watershed to adopt pollution reducing and water quality enhancing practices. The grant also will fund educational and community outreach programs as well as water quality testing. A similar grant obtained in 2019 was used for such projects as rain barrel and rain garden installations, tree and native turf planting, and streambank stabilization. These efforts helped reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment flowing into the Wabash.

While there may not be any flashy projects in the works, there is more interest and investment than ever in downtown Lafayette and the State Street corridor in West Lafayette, Lambert says. He cites tremendous returns from money invested in riverfront enhancement in other Indiana communities.

“These kinds of projects are costly and take a long time to do, but cities who invest in their riverfronts see a $5 return for every dollar invested within five years, and a $12 to $16 return for every dollar invested in 20 years,” Lambert says. The biggest problem is finding a dedicated funding source that is not subject to the vagaries of politics and changes in governmental policies.

He harkens back to the years-long railroad relocation effort in Lafayette that removed tracks from downtown streets. About 80 percent of the funding for that multi-million dollar project came from the federal government through earmarks in the federal budget. But that funding source was eliminated years ago, Lambert recalls.

“WREC is putting together a dedicated funding plan, looking at a food and beverage tax fund or something like that to help support and develop the riverfront,” he says. “That would spread the cost across the most people, and primarily those who are using the services.”

Any tax would have to be authorized by the state and Tippecanoe County Council, and no concerted effort to pursue such a fund is currently in the works.

If the stars align and consistent funding becomes available, Lambert sees a future for life along the Wabash River in Tippecanoe County that will include private mixed-use development, a new pedestrian bridge extending Brown Street across the river into West Lafayette, new parks and green space, small boat docks, a disc golf course, a band shell for outdoor entertainment, mountain bike trails and more.

In the meantime, why not plan a leisurely stroll along a promenade? ★

More information about the Wabash River master plan, including maps and historical perspectives, is available at wabashriver.net

Interested in partnering with the WREC on a pollution-reducing cost-share project? Visit: wabashriver.net/costshare



BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS PROVIDED, FIREWORKS PHOTO BY DAVE SCHMIDT

Occupying a mere block-long stretch on Columbia Street, organizers led by Steve Klink promised a 12-hour day of good food and door prizes in front of Loeb’s Department Store.
Proceeds would benefit the Tippecanoe Arts Federation.

Offerings included knackwurst and bratwurst, Teriyaki steak kabobs, oysters on the half shell and crab puffs. All that for a $1 admission plus free Coca-Cola and a chance to win door prizes and gift certificates every hour.

Loeb’s is now a distant memory for long-time residents of Lafayette. So, too, are many of the 12 local businesses that participated in the first Taste: Alt Heidelberg, Amato’s, Sarge Oak, Hour Time, Butterfield’s, Cork and Cleaver and Don the Beachcomber’s.

Gone, too, is the $1 admission price. Today, admission to the Taste is $10 for persons 13 and older. But it’s well worth the price

Digby’s, The Parthenon, Mountain Jack’s, The Downtowner and Red Lobster are the only existing businesses that helped launch what is now a 40-year-old tradition. And what a tradition it has become.

By 1991, the event had outgrown its one-block home and attracted 22,000 people to Sixth Street. Even that space was too cramped for two stages and an ever-growing amount of restaurant booths.

With 30 restaurants and an estimated crowd of 40,000, the 20th Taste of Tippecanoe in 2001 was spread out over Riehle Plaza, the John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge, and the downtown area between Third Street to the east, Ferry Street to the north and Columbia Street to the south.

In 2019, three stages were set up along Second and Ferry streets, Fourth Street, and Fifth and Main.

That tradition was disrupted this past summer thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tippecanoe Arts Federation was forced to severely curtail its major fundraising effort of the year, settling for an online presence of live musical performances over Facebook Live.

Kyra Clark, marketing and events director for the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, says it’s safe to say that this year’s Taste of Tippecanoe, scheduled for July 31, may be the most important Taste since the first event.

“The Taste is our major fundraiser and the largest single-day arts fundraiser in Indiana,” Clark says. “It’s incredibly important for us to fundraise and get with the community.”

To make it as safe as possible for visitors, the Taste of Tippecanoe will be spread over a large area of downtown surrounding Riehle Plaza and the Tippecanoe County Courthouse. Also, there will be just two stages this year for live entertainment.

“We’ve increased the size of the footprint to make it a little easier for people to sit down and appreciate the food and the local restaurants that are going to be participating at the Taste,” Clark says.

“We are going to make things as safe as possible. We’re going to have hand-sanitizing stations, and all of our volunteers will be wearing masks. We will never hold an event that puts our community at risk. We are not going to be a superspreader event. We would never risk our relationship or our reputation with our supporters.”

If this year’s Taste is important to the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, it may be equally important to Greater Lafayette-area restaurants. Nearly every establishment has suffered from the government COVID-19 mandates that have kept away the usual numbers of customers.

But several local restaurants are bullish on the Taste of Tippecanoe. The Tippecanoe Arts Federation had 12 commitments by late February from Arni’s, Grilled Chicken and Rice, Corn in the USA, Dippin’ Dots, Gibson’s Shaved Ice, Indiana Kitchen Bacon, Java Roaster, Kona Ice of Tippecanoe County, Lepea, McGraw’s Steak Chop and Fish House, Red Bird Café and Thieme & Wagner.

“That’s pretty normal for this time of year,” Clark says, “but our goal is always 30 to 32 restaurants.”

The latter number is the most Clark has seen during her four years with TAF.

“This is an event where restaurants are incredibly busy, and it is an event where the majority of our restaurants sign up closer toward the event so they have an idea of staffing and timing,” Clark says.

Last year’s virtual event and the loss of revenue have forced more budget cuts than just the number of stages.

“The biggest change this year is that there will not be a fireworks show,” Clark says. “It was just something we could not fit in our budget.

“We’re saving a little bit of money, but we’re dedicating more space to the seating and the appreciation of the local restaurants. We’ve had to tighten our belt, but we’re working with what we’ve got and doing the best we can.”

Even with the pandemic still a concern, Clark is hoping that this summer’s Taste will be remembered as a celebration.

“The focus of this year’s event is celebrating 40 years of great Taste,” Clark says. “We’re super excited to be able to have an event again where we can provide local food to our community, especially at a time when our restaurants are hurting or struggling.

“This is an incredible marketing opportunity for them. Tens of thousands of people come downtown for this event. Obviously, with the COVID restrictions and the health guidelines, the attendance might look a little bit different this year, but we want that marketing opportunity and promotional opportunity for our restaurants and downtown businesses.”

For more information about Taste of Tippecanoe and updates on the event date and participating
businesses, visit tasteoftippecanoe.org. ★

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTO BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Last summer, tensions surrounding issues of racial injustice boiled over across the country in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Locally, more than 1,000 peaceful protesters marched downtown on May 31 to rally for racial justice and take a stand against police brutality.

“Witnessing the energy of the young people and the memory, or the wisdom of the older people, together, that gives me hope,” says Rodney Lynch, pastor and director of the Baptist Student Foundation at Purdue University. “I was pleased with the number of people who were there. Most of them were white, that’s the demographics of this community. But standing up for racial justice is not a one-time moment; it’s a lifetime movement.”

Motivated by a desire to join like-minded community members to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), Lynch joined the Diversity Roundtable (DRT) when he relocated to Greater Lafayette in 2016. An outgrowth of Vision 2020, a 2000–2001 community visioning project for the future of Greater Lafayette, the DRT began in 2002 when a small group of citizens started meeting to plan a Diversity Summit held in April 2003. It became a biennial event and this month, the DRT held its 10th summit. The 2021 Diversity Summit, held virtually and free to all participants, focused on Strategic Doing: Turning Conversation into Action.

In addition to the summits, the DRT meets monthly to discuss DEI issues in the community. The meetings are open to the public and co-facilitated by Lynch and Barbara Clark, who retired as director of the Science Diversity Office and director of the Women in Science Programs at Purdue in 2015. An all-volunteer group, the DRT is a committee of Greater Lafayette Commerce.

“We are the only group in the community focused on diversity in general,” Clark says. “We’re not organized in response to a crisis or an issue. We’re focused on raising awareness and educating people about the diversity issues in the community — anything from race to sexual orientation to disability — and how diversity, equity and inclusion intersect with social issues.”

Many of the monthly meetings feature speakers from the community, such as city government officials, school superintendents, police officers and university administrators who share their perspective on how DEI is supported in their respective institutions as well as identifying areas that still need to be addressed. Clark, who has served as a co-facilitator of the group since 2009, says although the same core issues may resurface, often they’ve been redefined in some way.

“An issue that we’ve discussed a number of times is ‘driving while Black,’” Clark says. “When we first started talking about that, it was somewhat surprising to the white folks but certainly not surprising to the people of color. One of the things the DRT does is develop programming to educate the community on these issues.”

One of the programs facilitated by the DRT addressed implicit bias. Lynch, who co-led the training, would ask attendees how many of them had “the talk” with their children. Invariably, white attendees assumed “the talk” centered around sexual activity. Black attendees gave their children the “police talk.”

“Black people do not have the privilege of not educating their children about how to conduct themselves when they are engaged by a police officer, so they get home safe,” Lynch says. “White children are raised to believe the police will keep them safe. Whereas we’ve seen time and time again, Black people are afraid to even call the police because our loved ones may not live through that interaction.”

The depth of implicit bias is magnified through a video experiment shown in the training that posits two men of different races in the same scenario. In one instance, a white man is shown breaking into a car in broad daylight. In the other, the man breaking into the car is Black. The white man sets off the car alarm multiple times, fishing with a wire coat hanger for 30 minutes trying to pop the door lock. A police car drives by without stopping. When the Black man attempts to break into the car, a passerby begins filming him with a cellphone almost immediately and the police arrive within two minutes. The video ends with the Black man in handcuffs surrounded by five police officers.

“It’s assumed that the white guy is just locked out of his car,” Lynch says. “But the Black guy must be robbing that car. These are examples of the implicit biases we all live with.”

The difficulty of identifying implicit biases lies in the fact that we don’t always know we have them. These unconscious inclinations often operate outside of our awareness and can directly contradict a person’s espoused beliefs or values. The danger of implicit biases is how they affect our reactions and behaviors without our awareness. The goal of implicit bias training is to help attendees understand and acknowledge the systems of privilege in place that influence these unconscious prejudices.

These conversations are difficult to have, even among members of the DRT, who, by their very presence at meetings, are more inclined to be receptive to reframing their personal perspectives and committed to acknowledging and addressing DEI issues within the community.

“One of the things that keeps people coming month after month is that they can be honest and open at the DRT,” Clark says. “They feel safe talking about issues in a group where people have different perspectives because of their lived experiences.”

Another program offered by the DRT for the past few years centers around the book Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World by Layla F. Saad. The book operates as a workbook, outlining journaling exercises and conversation prompts that force white readers to reflect on the roots of their own unconscious bias, how they benefit from the systems in place and how white supremacy plays out in their everyday lives. Small cohorts of 20 to 25 people work through the book together, meeting for weekly discussions over the course of one month.

“It’s not really fair to expect people of color to educate white people on issues of diversity,” Clark says. “If white people care about diversity and want to make a change, they need to put some energy into educating themselves. That’s what Me and White Supremacy is all about. The journaling can be difficult. The conversations can be intense, but it’s all very worthwhile.”

Before the pandemic, approximately 30 people attended the monthly DRT meetings. After switching to virtual meetings last year, the DRT has seen a slight increase of participation with up to 50 attendees. Those numbers may seem small, but the impact of the DRT on the larger community is far greater.

“We’re not only touching the people who show up,” Lynch says. “The people who participate in the DRT are armed with information they can use when they encounter injustice at their job, in the community or in their family. That’s the beauty of what the DRT offers. If someone is serious about combatting injustice, DRT is a good place to start. We can inform and educate.” ★

To receive updates about the DRT and information about its monthly meetings, email 
diversitytippecanoe@gmail.com or visit diversitytippecanoe.org. 

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

On the hunt for seasonal fruits and veggies? You’re in luck. The bounty of community supported agriculture (CSA) in and around Greater Lafayette allows consumers to buy produce directly from the grower. Area farmers markets connect buyers with vendors who can speak with authority on how plants were grown and how livestock was raised. Buying from a local source also reduces the carbon footprint required to acquire your food. Many area farmers adhere to organic practices, harvesting at peak growing season to deliver fresh food that’s both delicious and nutritious.

Farmers markets
As COVID-19 guidelines continue to evolve, please consult websites and social media accounts for the most up-to-date information on market policies.

Lafayette Farmers Market
lafayettefarmersmarket.com

8 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Saturdays, May through October; Fifth and Main streets

The area’s largest open-air market, Lafayette Farmers Market dates back 182 years and is one of the state’s oldest outdoor markets. Vendors peddling produce, seedlings, flowers, meat, eggs, jams, breads, wood crafts, health and beauty items, home goods and even concessions line the cobblestones along Fifth Street every Saturday morning throughout the summer.

“Our market puts an emphasis on local-first,” says Rebecca Jones, quality of life coordinator for Greater Lafayette Commerce. “Our vendors come from within a 90-mile radius. We also prioritize vendors who sell produce to honor the market’s roots as a place of commerce for farmers and cultivators. At least 70 percent of items sold must be produced locally first-hand by the vendor. The remaining 30 percent must follow the same rules of being produced first-hand and be traceable to the maker or farmer.”

As a champion of local goods and services, the market offers programming that highlights community organizations, features local musicians and celebrates community holidays. The market also partners with local businesses to offer giveaways for attendees and incentivize giving blood when the Blood Bus visits the market. Vendors collaborate with the Veggie Drop program to provide excess goods to local food banks. The market is administered by Greater Lafayette Commerce on behalf of the City of Lafayette and sponsored by Subaru of Indiana Automotive.

“We know the market is not only a place of commerce, but gathering and idea sharing,” Jones says. “The success of our market is community driven.”

Purdue Farmers Market
purdue.edu/physicalfacilities/sustainability
11 a.m.–2 p.m. Thursdays, May through October; Memorial Mall

Organized by Purdue Campus Planning and Sustainability in conjunction with Greater Lafayette Commerce, the Purdue Farmers Market features several lunch vendors and other prepared goods vendors, such as bakeries, in addition to some floral and produce vendors.

Guests without a campus parking permit may pay to park in the Grant Street Parking Garage, approximately a five-minute walk. The 2020 market was canceled in adherence of the Protect Purdue COVID-19 guidelines. At press time, a decision about the 2021 market had not been made public.

West Lafayette Farmers Market
westlafayette.in.gov/farmersmarket

3–7 p.m. Wednesdays, May through October; Cumberland Park

Casual and laid-back, the scene at the West Lafayette Farmers Market welcomes shoppers to visit with its 50 to 60 vendors, enjoy dinner from local food trucks and unwind listening to live music. Started in 2005, the market showcases grown and collected goods (such as eggs, honey and maple syrup) alongside numerous crafts and body products including children’s clothing, tie-dye, jewelry, soaps and lotions.

“Our main focus is organic produce, but we have many excellent craft vendors, too,” says Shelly Foran, market manager. “All craft vendors are juried to ensure high-quality goods.”

The market makes a perfect dinner destination with a selection of prepared food vendors, food trucks and bakeries. Two local wineries rotate, serving wine by the glass. The market stipulates that 75 percent of the items sold must be produced locally, within 100 miles of the market. In addition to tips, local musicians earn a small stipend for performing, thanks to two sponsors: The Russell Company and Reliable Insurance. The market is administered by the City of West Lafayette.

Foran describes the dog-friendly market as community-oriented. “It’s a great place to visit and socialize,” she says. “Customers get to know their vendors. We have many shoppers who return each week. We want to be a destination market.”

Local farmers and CSAs
Specifics can vary among CSAs, but in general you commit to purchasing a share — a basket of produce — on a regular basis for the entirety of the growing season. Typically, you can’t dictate exactly what comes in your basket, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to experiment with cooking with seasonal ingredients you might not otherwise purchase. Some CSAs allow for half shares or split shares. Several local farmers offer direct purchase of their goods.

Beck’s Family Farm
Stop by the Beck’s vegetable stand east of Attica for homegrown tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers, cabbage, onions, potatoes, cantaloupe and watermelon. It also frequents the farmers market.

Bloomer’s Greenhouse
bloomersgreenhouse.square.site
This small, family-owned farm and greenhouse in West Point sells flowers, herbs and gourmet vegetables. It’s also frequently spotted at many central Indiana farmers markets.

Double M Farms
facebook.com/farmfood4U

Operated by a fifth-generation farmer, Double M’s farming model is grass-based, meaning you won’t find GMOs, animal biproducts or antibiotics in any of the meat they sell. The farm offers grass-fed beef and lamb in the spring and pasture-raised pork, poultry and eggs year-round.

Highland Heights Farm
highlandheightsfarm.com

Based in Frankfort, Highland Heights Farm offers a monthly fresh veggie box subscription available for delivery to Boone, Clinton and Tippecanoe counties. The range of products includes lettuce, greens and herbs, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, radishes and carrots.

Huffman & Hawbaker Farms
Hhfarms.com

Tippecanoe County-based Huffman & Hawbaker Farms grows tomatoes, jalepeno peppers and banana peppers. Its U-pick strawberry farm usually opens at the end of May and lasts a few weeks.

Purdue Student Farm
purdue.edu/studentfarm

A small, sustainable farm located near Kampen Golf Course, the Purdue Student Farm grows vegetables, herbs and cut flowers using the principles that naturally govern balanced ecosystems. Operated under the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, the farm disperses its produce to university dining halls, donations to community food pantries and through publicly available CSAs.

Sycamore Springs on Springboro
sycamorespringsfarmonspringboro.com

This family farm in Brookston raises grass-fed beef and pork and grows fruits and vegetables as well as organic certified garlic. Shop its in-season selection online.

This Old Farm
thisoldfarm.com

What started as one family’s commitment to growing wholesome food for themselves has grown into a regional wholesale distributor delivering quality ingredients to restaurants, grocers, schools and cafeterias around the state.
Families can still shop its wide selection of organically farmed meats, eggs, cheeses and other artisan products
available for pick up in Colfax.

Thistle Byre Farm
thistlebyrefarmllc.com

A pasture-based, sustainable family farm in rural Delphi, Thistle Byre Farm’s mission is to help encourage others to make their homes nurturing, healthy and cozy without the use of chemicals, hormones, pesticides and genetically modified organisms. Thistle Byre offers three different levels of membership for its meat and vegetable CSA.

Trinity Acres Farms
tendfarm.com/11319

Offering certified organic chemical-free produce and animal proteins, Trinity Acres Farms of Crawfordsville offers two CSA enrollment options. The conventional box CSA features an assortment of freshly harvested produce for 26 weeks, and the shoppers CSA allows buyers to choose their products from its online store.

Wea Creek Orchard
weacreekorchard.com

Offering a wide variety of fresh U-pick produce including apples, nectarines, peaches and pumpkins, Wea Creek Orchard makes a perfect family outing. The market, located south of Lafayette, also stocks its own line of canned goods including jams, jellies, salsa and barbecue sauce. Check the website for information about special events.

The Weathered Plow
Featuring fresh produce largely supplied by its own family farm near Camden, The Weathered Plow, 2325 Schuyler Ave., also sells delicious baked goods, take-and-bake meals, made to order sandwiches, candies and more. ★

BY RADONNA FIORINI
PHOTOS PROVIDED

The fifth and most advanced generation of wireless internet technology is coming to a West Lafayette laboratory where innovators, researchers and entrepreneurs will put it to the test.

The 5G Innovation Lab opens this summer in the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration near Purdue University. Owned and managed by the nonprofit Purdue Research Foundation, the Convergence Center provides space and resources to bring new innovations and products out of the lab and into the marketplace.

The 3,000-square-foot lab is part of the Indiana 5G Zone, a public/private partnership launched in 2020 in Indianapolis, says Managing Director Sean Hendrix. The 5G Zone was created in response to a push from industry, economic development groups and government to invest in technological research and infrastructure, positioning the state to attract and support innovative, high-tech companies.

The first 5G demonstration lab opened in Indianapolis last year, so the West Lafayette site is the second in the state. These labs allow companies and innovators to research new technologies without having to invest in their own 5G infrastructure and networks, says Hendrix.

When completed, physical work spaces in the West Lafayette lab will be connected to 5G through technology similar to an on-site, dedicated cell tower. Businesses, university researchers and private innovators can lease space there and full-time staff will be on-site to help new clients learn how to use the technology. The staff also can provide help in any testing process, or act as an independent, third-party team with assessment capability.

“5G is not just the next generation of wireless technology. It provides a fundamentally different way to do computing over networks,” Hendrix says. “There are tons of opportunity because this is not an established technology. The lab can help government, industry and academia test practical applications for 5G technology.”

If you’ve heard of 5G, it’s probably in relation to the next level of cellular phone speed and capability, but so much more is possible, says Troy Hege, PRF vice president for innovation and technology. The benefits of 5G include:
• Faster speed – up to 20 times faster than current wireless technology.
• Larger bandwidth – meaning more information can be processed at one time.
• Less latency – the lag between requests and responses in data transfer is reduced.

This technology is critical in the Internet of Things (IoT) and its ability to wirelessly connect different devices so they interact remotely, in real time, such as thermostats and video door bells that can be controlled from a cell phone. But much more complex applications are being studied.

One possibility is using encrypted video in a smart street system that collects data from cameras and sensors at road intersections so traffic lights can be controlled in real time, allowing for better traffic management, Hege says. While some of that technology currently exists, 5G has the capability to link all the hardware to a central facility so data coming in from across the system can quickly be analyzed.

This technology may be invaluable for manufacturing, machine learning, factories using robotics, and even agriculture systems, health care, and cybersecurity providers.

To create new uses for wireless technology, Hege says three basic things are needed: a device or sensor; software that actively processes data generated by the sensor; and a network that connects to the software and transmits or analyzes the data.

“This living lab is the center of bringing those things together,” he says. “Companies can bring new devices to the lab for testing and collaborate with researchers and professors who are the best in the world. Data analysis and machine learning are shaping industry all over the world, and this lab is the front door for research and application deployment.”

The 5G lab falls under the umbrella of NineTwelve Convergence, a nonprofit innovation institute designed to promote collaboration between business, academia and governmental entities in deploying 5G technology.

Two private companies are building out the necessary infrastructure in the Convergence Center: SBA Communications is the cellular network provider; and Tilson is the fiber optic backhaul network provider, Hendrix says.

He adds that the fiber optic network is owned and managed by SBA Communications, and PRF has signed a long-term service agreement with the company. PRF will operate the “testbed” portion of the lab’s network.

This means the network is not owned or operated by a specific internet service provider and so is considered a neutral platform. Another advantage to working with the West Lafayette lab is that the private wireless network will eventually be linked throughout the Discovery Park District, a 400-acre planned development that will include businesses, manufacturing, housing, retail and entertainment venues. That connectivity will provide a living laboratory where researchers can pilot applications in the lab and test and refine them in a controlled, real-life environment, says Hege.

“Elements of 5G are already out there, but we are at the very beginning of learning about this technology,” he says. “This will be a decade-long process and it will take all of us working together. We are thinking about all the ways data and connectivity impact our lives across the spectrum of where we work, where we learn and where we live.” ★

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

NineTwelve Convergence —ninetwelveconvergence.us

Indiana 5G Zone — indiana5gzone.com

Discovery Park District: Building a Connected Innovation Community — youtube.com

BY RADONNA FIORINI
PHOTOS PROVIDED

For the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration, that common focus is providing space and resources for academic research and private industry to collaborate, with the goal of seeing discoveries and innovations regularly make it out of the laboratory and into the world.
The Convergence Center, a 145,000-square-foot, five-story building located west of Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus, is billed as “Private Industry’s Front Door to Purdue,” says David Broecker, chief innovation and collaboration officer for the Purdue Research Foundation, the non-profit entity that owns the building.

Companies want to collaborate with the university, Broecker says, because that partnership provides access to student talent, engagement with faculty and professors on the leading edge of research, and facilities such as established modern labs and innovation centers. PRF, through its Office of Technology Commercialization, also helps connect researchers with private industry to move inventions and discoveries out of the lab and into the marketplace, while protecting intellectual property with patents and licensing.

But collaboration can be difficult, expensive and time-consuming if a company is not physically located near campus. That’s where Convergence comes in, offering flexible workspace options for established companies, startups — even individuals needing office space away from home.

“We want (Convergence) to be the place where companies and external collaborators meet with their counterparts from Purdue University and PRF to solve problems and address the answer to the question, ‘What keeps you up at night regarding your innovation/business strategy?’” says Broecker. “We want to make it easy for companies and external collaborators to be successful.”

Construction on Convergence, located at 101 Foundry Drive, began in 2018, with the $32 million building opening in January 2020, says Wade Lang, PRF vice president and chief entrepreneurial officer. The building is already home to several PRF entities along with four agriculture and life sciences companies. Improvements continue in the tenant spaces on three of the five floors, and retail space is being developed.

This summer, the 5G Innovation Lab will open in Convergence, providing companies and researchers access to the latest wireless internet technology in a lab setting.

It is the second such lab in Indiana and will allow the private sector and the Purdue community a place to experiment with the cutting-edge technology.

PRF is actively looking for new tenants for Convergence, which is managed by Carr Workplaces, a company based in Washington, D.C. Carr is a national workspace provider that manages brick and mortar office space but also offers such services as mail management and phone answering for those who may work from home but want a professional address and help with administrative chores, says Michelle Mercado, Carr business development associate.

Carr Workplaces provides a step up from traditional co-working spaces in that clients who lease space in Convergence have access to a dedicated phone line, email, fax and binding machines, copiers, shredding and notary services, high-speed wireless internet, and onsite tech support. There is a fully stocked coffee bar and conference rooms with videoconferencing capability and digital white boards for virtual collaboration.

“It’s a beautiful space,” says Mercado. “It has all the bells and whistles, and it’s positioned to be close to the university, but far enough away from campus to be its own entity. We meet people where they are. We ask, ‘What do you need? What tools will help you?’”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have begun rethinking their office needs, Broecker says. While corporate headquarters are shrinking, PRF finds that companies want to expand in strategic locations, often near universities, to tap resources that can meet their innovation and business needs.

“Bayer Crop Science is a great example of this strategy,” Broecker says. “Bayer has relocated three of their employees to create their own ‘innovation hub’ at Convergence that will facilitate interactions with students and faculty, and provide access to the places and spaces they need to be successful. We believe all of these aspects of the Convergence Center make it extremely unique among other leading universities.”

Convergence is ticking all the boxes for Beck’s Superior Hybrids, says Brad Fruth, director of innovation for the family-owned, Indiana-based seed company that operates in 14 states across the corn belt and is the third-largest retail seed brand in America.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand what a treasure the center is,” Fruth says. “Our innovation team knew we needed to increase collaboration with different schools at Purdue. Having an office at Convergence means we have the opportunity to regularly connect with researchers and go to call-outs and make connections. All we had to do was show up and get our key. The Carr staff takes care of all the amenities.”

Headquartered in Atlanta, Indiana, Beck’s opened a Convergence office in summer 2020 and leases dedicated space that allows its innovation team to meet once a week in person, provides an office for team members to land as needed, and gives its intern a place to work. While the space might not be used every day, everything the team needs is available when it is on site.

And being close to Purdue means Beck’s team members are on campus more regularly. Companies have to be proactive about making campus connections, Fruth says, and he is always on the lookout for research and innovation going on at Purdue that can be applied in the real world to benefit Beck’s ultimate client, the American farmer.

While Beck’s is certainly connected with those doing agronomy research at Purdue, the company also is interested in leveraging data analysis, computer science and supply chain management research, Fruth says. His team’s goal is to be on campus regularly and make at least one new Purdue connection each week.

Fruth looks forward to the day, post-pandemic, when travel again becomes a bigger part of the Beck’s business model because the company can use space in other Carr Workplace sites around the country for a single-day meeting or extended conference.

Carr has about 35 sites throughout the United States, the closest being in Chicago, and this perk for anyone who leases from them is particularly useful for businesses doing recruiting or collaborative work, says Mercado, adding that the Carr team can even help with travel arrangements and event planning.

“Flexible lease terms and networking spaces around the country are some of the reasons why we’re (in Convergence),” Fruth says.

Those flexible lease terms are attractive because clients can rent private office suites that will accommodate a team of one to five people, share a private office between a few employees, or lease a dedicated desk in a shared work space that still offers access to all the office equipment and administrative help, says Ethan Kingery, Car’s general manager at Convergence.

Kingery works alongside Chelsea Hulbert, the local Carr community manager, who serves as receptionist and liaison between every tenant and each guest who walks in the door. Hulbert helps with shipping needs, answers phones and supports all the tenants in myriad ways
every day.

“We have a hospitality mindset that you could compare to the quality you would find at a luxury resort,” Kingery says. “We work with every tenant to see how we can support and amplify what they need.” And as a Purdue graduate and former university employee, Kingery has insight into Purdue’s unique culture and can work with Convergence tenants to help them make connections on campus.

While established companies such as Beck’s and Bayer Crop Science find Convergence a good place to land, startups also can lease dedicated or community space and have access to office equipment and administrative support. As an example, Kingery cites an entrepreneur who has leased space for her fledgling apparel company in Convergence and is in the building many evenings and weekends when she’s not working her day job.

“If you need 3,000 square feet or less of office space, we can work with you,” Kingery says.

While most Carr Workplace sites are in large cities and cater to white-collar tenants such as lawyers or lobbyists,

Convergence is unique in that it is the only Carr site near a top research university and attracts more scientists and researchers, says Mercado.

Convergence also plays a distinctive role within the Discovery Park District (DPD), a 400-acre, mixed-use development that broke ground in 2017. PRF, which owns and manages the land west of campus where the district is being developed, is partnering with Indianapolis-based Browning Investments, Inc. on the project.

“Over the next 10 years, we are projecting over $1 billion in development (at the Discovery Park District) comprised of business, research, residential, retail, advanced manufacturing and community spaces that will eventually attract upwards of 25,000 people living, working, playing and learning across the district,” says Broecker.

“With the 50,000+ students, faculty and staff at Purdue, Discovery Park District will become an incredible community in its own right on the campus of a leading research university … and the Convergence Center is the ‘business front door’ to the DPD.” ★

For more information about Carr Workplaces, go to:
carrworkplaces.com/locations/purdue_university/convergence

For more information about the Convergence Center,
go to: discoveryparkdistrict.com/the-convergence-center

Central Lafayette
Patio Dining at Parkside

Parkside | 1902 Scott St.
A Columbian Park staple for decades, Parkside reopened under new ownership just last year. The recently constructed patio opened in September and is nonsmoking, just like the reimagined restaurant. Outfitted with reclaimed lumber, polished concrete and a hanging garden, the stylish outdoor ambiance is a welcome respite. With dinner specials, smoked meats and “the coldest beer in town,” we don’t need an excuse to stop by and stay a while.
facebook.com/theparksidelafayette

Downtown Lafayette
Downtown Lafayette Patio Dining at Digby's

Digby’s | 113 N. Fourth St.
Tucked between two tall buildings, Digby’s patio may feel like an exclusive hideaway, and spaciously positioned tables along serpentine pathways dotted with trees lend an air of privacy. Its casual atmosphere belies what is arguably the best patio view in town. Gaze at the Tippecanoe Courthouse soaring overhead as local music emanating from the outdoor stage wafts over you. Reservations accepted, and your pup can come, too.
digbyspub.com

Downtown Patio Dining at East End Grill

East End Grill | 1016 Main St.
A seasonally inspired scratch menu, creative cocktails and a modern, urban vibe have earned East End Grill a reputation as one of the hottest spots in town. The restaurant has become an anchor of upper Main Street since it first opened five years ago. Weekend nights, tables are hard to come by without reservations, even more so for the few available on the small dog-friendly patio. Reservations encouraged.
eastendmain.com

Downtown Dining in Lafayette Indiana at Lafayette Brewing Co

Lafayette Brewing Co. | 622 Main St.
The first brewery to receive Indiana’s small brewers permit back in 1993, Brew Co. — as it’s known to locals — brews traditional ales and lagers on site. The kitchen sends out generous portions of unique pub fare that would satiate any appetite. Whether you stop by on Pint Night (Wednesday), Flight Night (Monday), Seven Buck Sunday or any other night, a good time is certain.
lafbrew.com

Patio Dining in Lafayette Indiana at Red Seven

Red Seven | 200 Main St.
Watch the world go by from your patio seat in the heart of downtown. From small plates to seafood to steaks, this new American restaurant offers an upscale urban dining experience for everyone. The extensive line up of seasonally crafted cocktails and local brews are enough to make you linger for an evening. Dogs welcome. Red Seven accepts reservations; although patio seating can be requested, it is not guaranteed.
red7grill.com

Patio Dining in Lafayette Indiana at Sgt. Preston's

Sgt. Preston’s of the North | 6 N. Second St.
Is there a more popular patio in town than Sgt. Preston’s on a sunny day? The Canadian-themed bar has been a staple in downtown Lafayette for decades, serving up delicious grub backed by a full bar with weekly dinner and drink specials. Often featuring live music on weekends, your best bet is to head over early to snag a table or visit on Monday for Schooner Night. 21+ only.
sgtprestons.net

South Lafayette
Patio Dining in Lafayette Indiana at Rusty Taco

Rusty Taco | 3209 Builder Dr.
Relatively new on the scene, Rusty Taco quickly impressed with its diverse menu of street tacos that pack bold flavors. With its festive umbrellas and charming string lights, the Rusty Taco patio gives off the mellow vibe of a place where you want to kick back, relax and forget about your worries for a while. Rusty says, “Tacos are the most important meal of the day,” and we can’t disagree.
rustytaco.com

Teays River Brewing and Public House | 3000 S. Ninth St.
This comfortable outdoor patio bedecked with picnic tables maintains a communal feeling even with sufficient social distancing. An extension of the laid-back scene that permeates inside, outdoor dining at Teays River features the same unique pub fare and tasty local brews. Bring Fido along; the patio is pooch friendly.
teaysriverbrewing.com

Patio Dining in Lafayette, Indiana at Walt's Other Pub

Walt’s Other Pub | 3001 S. Ninth St.
Not only does Walt’s Other Pub have a patio, you might even be lucky enough to score a seat on the balcony. Its immense menu with family-friendly options is sure to please. With 12 beers on tap, a robust wine list and a full bar, you have plenty of choices to accompany your meal. And if you go for lunch you might get served by the friendliest, most outgoing waitress in town. Everyone’s welcome at Walt’s patio, even the dog.
waltsotherpub.com

West Lafayette
Patio Dining in West Lafayette Indiana at The Bryant

The Bryant | 1820 Sagamore Pkwy W
When The Bryant first opened its doors in November 2018, it already sounded familiar to longtime residents. The restaurant’s name harkens back to the much-beloved Morris Bryant Smorgasbord, which occupied the site from 1951 to 1994. After only a few years, the Bryant has quickly gained a place in our hearts, too. Its upscale, contemporary atmosphere and ever-evolving menu are enticing enough. Throw in one of the most inventive cocktail menus around? We’re sold.
thebryantwl.com

Patio Dining in West Lafayette Indiana

Town and Gown Bistro | 119 N. River Road
Don’t overlook this gem of a place. Although located on a busy thoroughfare, the landscaped patio has been outfitted with numerous pots and planters filled with lush greenery that transform this cozy patio into a delightful oasis. Billed as “unfussy American eats” the chef-driven menu features familiar fare exquisitely executed. In addition to lunch and dinner, Town and Gown also is open for brunch and features a variety of vegetarian options. As if we needed another reason to love it.
facebook.com/townandgownbistro

Patio Dining in West Lafayette Indiana at Whittaker Inn

Whittaker Inn | 702 W 500 N
The Whittaker Inn’s picturesque country setting is the ideal location to enjoy a relaxing meal artfully crafted with locally sourced ingredients. Not just for out-of-towners, the Whittaker Kitchen is the heart of this inviting B&B just minutes from Purdue. The ever-changing menu offers new delights with each season, though we’re glad to see the scrumptious butterhorn bread rolls have become a mainstay. We could fill up on those alone. Reservations required.
thewhittakerinn.com

BY RADONNA FIORINI
PHOTOS PROVIDED

While much of life slowed or was outright canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, city improvement and development projects continued, and many will come to fruition in 2021. From penguins to new planned neighborhoods, here’s a peek at what’s coming for our communities.

Columbian Park
Lafayette’s Columbian Park continues to be a beehive of activity with new attractions slated to open this spring and summer.

The recently constructed $20 million Loeb Stadium, located at the corner of Main and Wallace streets, will be dedicated at the end of January, says Lafayette Parks and Recreation Marketing Manager Samantha Haville. Some COVID-related delays pushed the project’s completion back a bit, but everything should be ready for Lafayette Jefferson High School’s baseball home opener in the spring.

The original Loeb Stadium, built in the 1940s of concrete, was long the site for Lafayette Jeff’s home games, the Colt World Series, and more recently the summer collegiate baseball team, the Lafayette Aviators, part of the West Division of the Prospect League. The new brick stadium, which will seat 2,600 people when suites and lawn seating opens later this year, is also designed as a multi-use space where concerts and family movie nights will be planned.

“We hope to make a big splash for the first Jeff home game and for the Aviators’ opener in early summer,” says Haville. “And we’re opening it up to community partnerships for a wide variety of events.”

The newest additions to the Columbian Park Zoo are scheduled to arrive before the zoo opens this spring. Nine African penguins will be shipped from California to inhabit the penguin house constructed in 2020. Their arrival was delayed because of travel restrictions, but the hope is that these warm-weather birds will feel at home and be ready for visitors by late April.

Another exciting addition, an updated blast from the past, will be a new carousel. Construction on a permanent building to house this family favorite has begun, located between the zoo and Tropicanoe Cove water park. The carousel will feature hand-carved and painted wooden animals that represent some of those found in the zoo, along with exotic species and traditional horses. Haville says no date has been set for the opening of this much-loved ride.

While some of these new projects will not be fully used until the pandemic is under control, several planned features in Columbian Park will be open for individual use this summer.

Phase three of the Memorial Island project is proceeding apace. A new amphitheater with upgraded sound system is planned. The lagoon was drained last year, and sea walls are being rebuilt. Lots of new elements are being added to make the area accessible for folks with disabilities including boardwalks, new bridges, and ADA fishing nodes that jut out into the lagoon and accommodate a wheelchair, Haville says. The parks department is working with Purdue University and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to choose fish that will be stocked in the refilled lagoon this summer.

“We are most excited about the fact that paddle boats are coming back!” Haville says. “The boats will be located on the south side of the lagoon near the train depot. We hope to have them available
in July.”

Cason Family Park
Keeping with the theme of public parks and outdoor spaces, West Lafayette has several projects in the works, says Erin Easter, director of development for the city.

Cason Family Park is a planned 14-acre prairie-style space being developed in two phases. The park, located on acreage donated by local farmer Lynn Cason at Cumberland Avenue and U.S. 231, is already home to the historic, one-room Morris Schoolhouse. Built in 1879, the school was moved to the property in 2017 and restored so it can be used for educational programs.

Construction on other park elements is slated to begin this year with completion set for 2022. Surrounding the schoolhouse will be outdoor play places, lawns and waterways. There will be picnic pavilions, public restrooms and several trails throughout the acreage.

“This will be a really fun, whimsical place to play that won’t feel forced,” Easter says. “There will be natural playgrounds with climbing rocks, wooden elements and rest areas.”

For bikers and walkers in West Lafayette, a planned 10-foot-wide pathway project will roll out this year. The path will run along Salisbury Street from Kalberer Road to Grant Street and end at Northwestern Avenue. The project will include shifting some traffic lanes and burying utilities, says Easter. Lighting and other amenities will be added during this two-year project, which will provide a safer way for pedestrians to move from the northern side of the city to the Purdue campus.

And the pathway will lead directly to the new Wellness Center just completed in Cumberland Park. This 73,000-square-foot facility houses a pool, gym, walking track, weight equipment and spaces for health classes, Easter says.

“A lot of our parks programming was put on pause in 2020,” she says. “It was difficult not to do those things last year, but we’ll have a beautiful new home (for those programs) when the time is right.” (See story on Page 22)

A New City Hall in West Lafayette

While anticipating summer activities, Easter and other city employees are spending these colder months settling into newly renovated office space at the Sonya L. Marjerum City Hall, formerly the Morton Community Center. Remodeling of the historic building began in 2019 and was largely completed in December when city workers began moving in.

The city offices have moved around for several years, but the more than $15 million renovations should allow the building on Chauncey Avenue to be a permanent home, says Easter. The name of the building was changed to honor the late Sonya Marjerum who served as West Lafayette mayor for 24 years.

“We moved into the building exactly two years to the date that construction began,” she says. “There are so many advantages to this space now. It’s ADA compliant and accessible. Four-fifths of the building space will be focused on parks or city programming and available to the community. And the new City Council chambers will serve as a true home for (the council’s) work. Before there was a sense of impermanence, but we hope this will be our final and forever home.”

City Hall’s first floor now has community space including two dance studios that can also host art programming and other activities. The first floor also houses the City Council chambers and other meeting space. The second floor is home to city staff including the mayor’s office, parks department, clerk’s office and other departments. A customer service desk is centrally located so visitors can easily get the help they need, Easter notes.

And additional community projects are planned between City Hall and the West Lafayette Public Library. Three public spaces will be added that include art pieces that also can serve as road barriers to temporarily block streets for festivals and large gatherings.

Lafayette projects

Lafayette also is completing some downtown projects and making plans for a new 70,000-square-foot public safety building and parking garage. The first public hearing concerning the facility design was held December 16, and the city hopes to begin construction this year with completion planned in 2023, says Lafayette Economic Development Director Dennis Carson.

The facility, which will be on property just east of City Hall at Sixth and Columbia streets, will house the police department and provide parking for city employees plus extra public parking spaces. The multi-story building will include open plazas for public use and be an asset to downtown living, Carson says.

Several Lafayette streetscape projects wrapped up in 2020 that have made downtown more pedestrian friendly and encouraged both investors and shoppers to see the businesses along Main Street as desired destinations. Paying attention to historic preservation and making the area more consumer friendly has paid off.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback and people say being downtown is now a better experience, in a safer environment that is more interactive,” says Carson. “We’ve encouraged outdoor dining, which has been so important during the pandemic, and we have more retail than we’ve had in decades.”

While the growth of brick and mortar stores is a surprise in this age of on-line shopping, Carson says there are more clothing and other retail stores downtown than have been seen in years. That trend shows that the investment in improving sidewalks, installing public art, and focusing on local businesses has paid off as people feel more comfortable lingering and shopping downtown.

“We’re very excited about it,” he says. “It’s a testament that people like to experience things (in person). We know it’s been challenging for some of these shops but we think they’ll hold up and do really well when things open up again.”

Provenance

Perhaps the biggest project coming to Tippecanoe County is back across the river on the west side of the Purdue campus. As part of the Discovery Park District, the city of West Lafayette, Purdue Research Foundation and Old Town Design Group from Indianapolis have launched a planned housing development called Provenance.

Work has begun on apartments at the southwest corner of State Street and Airport Road to be followed by condominiums, town homes and single family homes, says West Lafayette’s Easter, adding that commercial and retail spaces are also part of the mix.

According to information from Old Town Design Group, this multiphase project will eventually include walking paths that connect to nearby parks, golf courses, shops and restaurants. The development includes lots for 56 single-family homes and 30 townhomes.

So grab your mask and take a drive around our communities to see the changes coming. While it feels as if our lives are shrinking, there are brighter days ahead with much to celebrate. ★

BY HANNAH HARPER
PHOTOS PROVIDED

Follow the leader. Lead by example. Take the lead. It’s safe to say that the concept of leadership has left an unmistakable imprint on the American vernacular, and rightly so, as it determines the course of everything from our countries to our businesses. Cultivating this vital skill in younger generations is an important part of ensuring our mutual success, and it is something in which Greater Lafayette continues to invest and value in the community.

TC Young Professionals

Tippy Connect Young Professionals provides young professionals ages 21-39 in Greater Lafayette an opportunity to discover their community and build lasting relationships with their peers and neighbors. With 151 members and several programs focused on the values of engagement, development, opportunity and service, the Greater Lafayette Commerce leadership program strives to be a connecting force within the community.

As a young professional, David Teter, a member of the Tippy Connect Young Professionals Steering Committee, has enjoyed the behind-the-scenes process of helping to organize opportunities for his peers.

“Knowing the community is the first step to making a difference, and I’m thrilled to know so many people with a passion for the community and developing new leaders and cultivating talent,” Teter says.

Programs such as Adulting 101 and Taproom Takeover are two such opportunities for young professionals to get to know the community.
Adulting 101 partners with local organizations to help young professionals learn or brush up on important life skills such as financial planning or changing a tire. Taproom Takeover allows Tippy Connect members to learn about the local restaurant scene through discussions with the business owners who operate them.

“Adulting 101 helps create those roots in Greater Lafayette because once you know [the community], you feel more at home, less out of place,” says Rebecca Jones, Quality of Life Coordinator and Tippy Connect Liaison for Greater Lafayette Commerce. “[Taproom Takeover] is another way for these individuals to grow roots.”

For Lafayette transplant Tyler Knochel, creating that sense of community for all young professionals is an important part of his involvement with the organization.

“Through my work at Tippy Connect, I want other people like me, young professionals and emerging leaders, to see Greater Lafayette the way I do,” he says. “I want to see more of us rally around our community and continue to make it great.”

In addition to community events, Tippy Connect Young Professionals also offers leadership training through its Success in 60 program and leadership conference. Success in 60 is delivered as a workshop where Tippy Connect members can learn personal and professional development skills that will equip them to become better leaders. Examples of past workshop topics include confidence and StrengthsFinder.

New to the programs offered through Tippy Connect is a leadership conference. The conference is tailored to young professionals and includes opportunities for networking, professional development tracks and keynote speakers.

“As long as you want to professionally develop yourself and personally grow with your peers, we have programming for you,” Jones says.

Although Tippy Connect Young Professionals caters the majority of its programming to a subset of the community, anyone who believes he or she may benefit from the organization’s programming is invited to reach out to attend an event. As a result of partnerships and connections to community organizations, Tippy Connect Young Professionals also gives members an opportunity to continue to serve the community through volunteerism and board representation even after they no longer fall into the designated young professional age range.

“We can talk about our community as a whole as it all relates to Greater Lafayette,” says Jones. “The end point for someone’s professional development isn’t when they’re 39 and aging out of Tippy Connect. It should be never.”

For more information or to join, please visit tippyconnect.com.


Leadership Lafayette

Since 1982, Leadership Lafayette has cultivated leadership potential in the citizens of Greater Lafayette to enrich the community in government, business and nonprofit sectors. The organization is an application-based leadership development program that prepares its cohorts through experiential learning and community engagement.

“Beginning with our Opening Retreat, we focus on identifying personal strengths as well as skills, abilities and passions that make each individual uniquely positioned to give back to our community,” says Kitty Campbell, executive director of Leadership Lafayette.

Each session focuses on a different area of the community to teach them about opportunities available in sectors such as civics, education and youth advocacy, human services, the arts and nonprofits. Participants also learn valuable leadership skills such as conflict resolution and team development.

For Knochel, who was a member of Class 46, several of the sessions gave him a greater understanding of challenges, talents and systems that exist within the community.

“My favorite session was all about building systematic support in our communities – how does the mission and reach of one organization or program connect and build into the mission and reach of another?”
he says.

The organization takes a unique approach to leadership training, focusing on servant leadership to provide exposure to opportunities where alumni can serve the community after completing the program. Through the Leadership Lafayette Volunteer Expo, the organization provides resources for alumni to get involved.

Knochel learned about leadership opportunities from his Leadership Lafayette experience in which he continues to take part.

“I serve on a committee for United Way and Tippecanoe Arts Federation (TAF), I serve on the steering committee for Tippy Connect Young Professionals, and I’m on the board of directors for an X-District and The American Advertising Federation in Lafayette,” he says.

“Leadership Lafayette was the first step I took in really getting involved in our community and helping build a greater Lafayette.”

Although the program is open to people of all ages, the organization has created partnerships to reach young professionals in the community.

“We collaborate with community partners, including Tippy Connect Young Professionals, to encourage businesses and nonprofit organizations to invest in the personal and professional development of their emerging talent, and to encourage young professionals to learn how they can get involved in our community and better our shared quality of life,” says Campbell.

Teter, a member of Class 49, gained insight into how community leaders work together to contribute to the overall success of Greater Lafayette.

“Leaders from various organizations collaborate and think of new events and activities that benefit the community, which is incredible,” he says. “I saw the start of some new ideas and collaborations during Class 49, and I’m sure Leadership Lafayette will continue to be an accelerator for the development of the community and leaders to move our community forward.”

For more information or to apply, visit leadershiplafayette.org.


The People Business 2.0

Providing a new and personalized twist for young professionals to build leadership skills, The People Business 2.0 is a personal and professional development organization owned by Sharlee Lyons. Certified as a Gallup Strengths Coach, Growing Leaders Master Trainer, and Fascinate Certified Advisor, among other qualifications, Lyons began the People Business 2.0 in 2020 after a career in multiple leadership and training roles.

“The People Business 2.0 is the collection of the personal and professional development best practices I’ve experienced in my professional career, and now I am blessed to share them with others,” Lyons says.

The leadership coaching provided by Lyons is customized to each individual client, making the leadership development experience personalized to the client’s unique needs and challenges. However, leadership coaching follows the same seven steps: (1) relationship development, (2) leadership competencies overview and assessment, (3) curiosity and learning about leadership competencies, (4) client setting goals for development, (5) assessments that lead to self-discovery, (6) coaching that leads to goal setting, and (7) client-driven action planning.

“I consider myself a ‘guide on the side’ as the client works through self-discovery, development, action planning and goal attainment,” says Lyons.

While leadership coaching is available to clients of all ages, Lyons offers coaching for young leaders through use of the Growing Leaders Habitudes curriculum, which was developed to teach leadership habits and attitudes to youth and young professionals through images.

“Our hope for the future depends on how well we train our young leaders, and it doesn’t happen by chance, it must be intentional,” she says.

Also intentional is Lyons’ choice to use The People Business 2.0 to bring leadership coaching to the Greater Lafayette community.

“My husband and I have lived in Greater Lafayette for 20 years,” she says. “It’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere, and that is intentional. I love this
community.” ★

Additional leadership opportunities for young professionals:

• Evergreen Leadership: evergreenleadership.com

• United Way Emerging Leaders United: uwlafayette.org

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

This year marks the 95th anniversary of Kirby Risk Corporation, founded in 1926 when J. Kirby Risk borrowed $500 from his father and joined Otto Keiffer to open the Keiffer-Risk Battery Company in a small, abandoned blacksmith shop in Lafayette. Keiffer left the company within the year and was replaced by George Tweedie. The company became Risk-Tweedie Electric Service, and Risk was able to repay his father that $500 loan.

After Tweedie’s departure in 1934, the company was renamed Kirby Risk Electric Company, expanded into wholesale distributions of electric supplies and moved to a new downtown location in 1941. Through it all, Risk remained committed to a concept the company now refers to as sacrificial service.

Risk’s son, company CEO James Risk III, describes sacrificial service to mean placing the highest value on customers, employees, vendors and community relations.

“My father felt strongly that your life’s activities and your business should be based on integrity, respect for people and valuing others,” Risk says. “My mother and father were an amazing team. I learned by watching them that true happiness comes from serving others or enriching the lives of other people.”


The second-generation leader recalls accompanying his father to the company warehouse on evenings and weekends as a child.

“I was fascinated walking down the aisles with all of the different products, parts and equipment,” Risk says. “I didn’t necessarily know their purpose or understand how they worked.

Risk first started working at the company during summers while he was in school. After graduating from Purdue University with a degree in management, he began his career at the sales counter and worked his way up to vice president of sales before he was named company president in 1972 at the age of 30. No stranger to leadership, Risk had already served as president of the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce.

A commitment to community service is another value Risk learned from his father. According to Risk, his parents “left us a legacy of valuing others and having a sincere concern for your fellow man.” Among his many contributions to the community, the elder Risk championed bringing Junior Achievement to Lafayette and the younger Risk participated in the program in high school.

“The cornerstone to our company’s success is a commitment to long-term relationships with our employees and their families, with our customers, and with our vendors,” Risk says. “Equally important is having a presence in our communities. Our employees are encouraged to get involved in their communities, value other people and simply do more than what is expected. My parents lived their lives that way and I just tagged along for the ride.”

Family Business

Eddy Del Real was 4 years old when his father, Jose, opened Del Real Auto Sales. Jose still worked at Alcoa at the time. He’d wake up at 6 a.m. to go to the car auction, report to the plant at 3 p.m. and get off shift at 11 p.m. His three sons, Alonzo, Eddy and Tony, began helping out at the lot as kids, washing cars and performing other odd jobs on weekends or after school. Now all three sons — and their brother-in-law — work for the family business. 

“It wasn’t ever expected of us. We were raised to do what we love,” Eddy Del Real says. “For me, it’s an awesome opportunity. We’ve always been family oriented. We were all brought into the business. We each have investment in it. Dad showed us the ropes and we took it from there to broaden the business and expand it.” 

Since its founding in 1987, Del Real has expanded into three locations. Eddy manages the flagship Del Real Auto Sales in Lafayette; Alonzo runs Del Real Auto Connection on Sagamore Parkway, Lafayette; and Tony opened Del Real Automotive Group in Frankfort.
In terms of his father’s leadership style, Eddy Del Real says Jose’s
approach has always been firm,
but egalitarian. 

“There isn’t really a hierarchy of titles,” he says. “We were all raised as equals. We’ve never really had a boss. My dad has the knowledge, so we would ask him for advice and roll with it. He’s shown us that if you put your time and your investments into the business, you’ll reap the benefits. He’s done well for himself, and we want to continue that legacy.”

Eddy Del Real said one thing that sets the family business apart from other auto dealerships is the way they do business. Because their business carries the family name, the Del Reals are invested in every single sale. The company values stem from Jose’s strong work ethic and belief in transparency of the deal — no gimmicks, everything is sold with a warranty and deal the way you want to be treated. Though his sons manage the day-to-day operations, Jose is still involved in the business. 

“We still go to the auction together,” Eddy Del Real says. “Sometimes we’ll talk business at the dinner table when we’re all together. It’s something that will always unite us. My mom and our wives are the ones that keep us grounded.”

Counter philosophy

Basim Hussain started hanging out at his dad’s place of work when he was still too young to be on the payroll. What kid wouldn’t want to spend all day in an ice cream shop? Sabir Hussain operates three Coldstone Creamery locations throughout Greater Lafayette. Once Basim was old enough, he sought employment at one of his father’s stores.

“He considered applying for other jobs, even interviewed for a few. But they just weren’t for him,” Sabir Hussain says. “The way we provide flexibility to young people in school and sports and other activities, we go above and beyond in recruiting and keeping young employees.”

Basim’s only concern about working for his dad? He was worried he’d be missing out on a real work experience.

“At the end of the day, your dad probably won’t fire you,” Sabir Hussain says. “But Basim gets admonished just like anyone else, and to be honest, a little bit more than others. There’s extra pressure if the owner’s son isn’t in proper uniform.”

Hussain takes a long-term approach in developing his young workers. He looks for opportunities to challenge them to see alternate perspectives. He encourages them to be problem solvers. He guides them in cultivating strong customer relations skills that could be applied to dealing with clients in almost any future career path. Basim, now a freshman at Cornell University, remained at home during the fall
semester due to the pandemic. While enrolled in online courses,
he still worked part-time in his father’s store.

“For all my young employees, I hope there is something they pick up from this job that stays with them for the rest of their life,”
Sabir Hussain says. “I truly believe
it takes a village to raise a young person. My role may not be
counselor or teacher or pastor, but at the same time, it’s not nothing. I’m not just a person who signs
their check.” ★

BY CINDY GERLACH
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV
PRODUCTION PHOTOS PROVIDED

The mere mention of coffee evokes smells and imagery that transport people to a place or a time. For many of us, it’s the first thing we reach for in the morning. Or it’s an excuse to gather with friends, to take a break or help us make it through a busy day.

It’s a staple in so many of our daily lives — it’s easy to take coffee for granted. But Brad and Cary Gutwein have taken their love affair a step further by making it their business. The brothers purchased the Copper Moon Coffee brand in 2006. And while they may not have reinvented coffee per se, they have taken this already existent brand to a new level.

This isn’t the brothers’ first foray into partnership in business. Growing up, the two always had a good relationship, says elder brother Brad. Brad graduated from Purdue University in 1989 with a degree in hotel and restaurant management – a good all-around degree with a focus on both business and hospitality – while Cary studied at Valparaiso University.

The two joined forces earlier in their careers when they operated a birdseed business, Morning Song.

“We’ve always gotten along really well,” says Brad. “We have a good balance of talent and skills. Cary is more operational, I’m more marketing and sales.”

But eventually, they outgrew their fledgling operation, ready for a bigger challenge. After they sold Morning Song they were ready for their next venture. And coffee, Brad says, was no accident — it was intentional. He had done a lot of research on coffee and knew that was a venture he was interested in — and one he knew they were well prepared to take on.

For one, they already had a company put together and an infrastructure, a hold-over from Morning Song. And many of their employees stayed on, says Nick Thompson, who currently serves as vice president for sales and marketing but has been with the brothers since 2007.

The concepts of working with birdseed — sourcing, working with an agricultural product, purchasing, packaging, selling to retailers — carry over to the coffee business.

“Those same principles work for coffee,” Thompson says. “They turned it into more of a passion.”

Brad Gutwein attended a trade show in Florida in late 2006, looking for inspiration for his coffee ambition. He visited a booth for a business based in Indianapolis. The brand, Copper Moon Coffee, was owned by a private equity firm; Gutwein knew it was a non-core asset and they might be willing to sell.

“And I was ready,” he says. “I knew what we wanted and what we were looking for.”

So the brothers took the brand name Copper Moon – formerly a part of the now-defunct Marsh supermarket brand – and ran with it. Since the purchase in 2007, the company has remade the entire franchise. Its first roasting facility was on the east side of Indianapolis; in 2012 the entire operation relocated to Lafayette. They have changed the design and packaging, experimented with new flavors and techniques.

“Everyone has an entrepreneurial spirit,” says Thompson. “We’re constantly creating things that go to market. We have that entrepreneurial ability to develop all the way to the end consumer. It’s unreal that we get to do that here in Lafayette. The ability for anyone on our team to come up with an idea on a dry erase board to producing millions of pounds of it.”

The 100,000-square-foot roasting facility on the east side of Lafayette roasts tens of millions of pounds of coffee each year, Thompson says.

Much of the coffee is sold online through its website, coppermooncoffee.com; it is also sold through other online retailers — Amazon, Staples, Office Depot, Wal-Mart.

This year has been better than ever for online sales, Thompson says. The company did a refresh that launched in late January 2020, updating its brand. Copper Moon currently ships to all 48 of the continental United States.

“We expected growth,” he says. “It’s been out of this world.”
But they would like to encourage customers to purchase through the Copper Moon website. If they can see what people order, Thompson says, they are in a better position to help them with future purchases, making recommendations, or letting them know about sales or special offers.

“We get to establish relationships with those customers,” he says.

And the business has expanded into retail operations, opening its flagship café in April 2017 on State Road 26 near Meijer in Lafayette. It gave everyone a chance to see how consumers react to their products in real time.

“I think it kind of served as a good test kitchen for the brand, for what we could produce on a larger level,” Thompson says. “We could take that same coffee to the consumer, see what works. It’s a great marketing tool to reach our local community.”

Copper Moon recently opened its second location. The latest, on Sagamore Parkway in West Lafayette, has more than one drive-through lane, which helps serve customers during these pandemic months.

It’s a challenge, says Gutwein, but they’re learning and adapting.

Yet with coffee shops on nearly every corner these days, how did the brothers feel like they could put their own spin on coffee? Coffee – the world’s second-largest commodity, next to oil — is, these days, ubiquitous; how does one put their own spin on something that is everywhere?

“Coffee is very recognizable,” Gutwein says. “Which means it’s very complicated. You need to find a lane or a niche. We understand purchasing, packaging and selling to retailers.”

Much of their sales were, formerly, to offices that provided
coffee to their employees. Now that the workplace has shifted and so many people are working from home, Copper Moon’s sales and marketing have had to shift as well. People are buying more five-pound bags these days.

“At-home brewing has grown considerably,” Gutwein says. “Consumption rates have gone up.” People are drinking coffee for more of their day, or at different times. Consumer behavior has changed, and the business will have to change with it.

Thus, Copper Moon’s mission, says Gutwein, is to adapt its marketing and advertising, reaching customers in new way.

“The customers we do pick up are sticky,” he says. “We need to continue to advertise to them. That’s a real focal point with us.”

One of the most important pillars of the business model is Reach for the Moon, the company’s philanthropic effort. Copper Moon is committed not only to selling great coffee, but to serving others and giving back to the community.

It’s a term the team takes literally, Thompson says.

“It’s our giveback arm. We think coffee can help you reach your goals.”

We Give a Cup is its offer to provide complementary drinks to health care workers, firefighter, police officers, members of the military and educators.

“We’re trying to fuel our local heroes as they work to protect us,” Thompson says. “It’s a practical way for us to support our frontline heroes at this time.”

The initiative funds pursuits in STEM fields, partnering with the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which provides more than 50 scholarships annually. It supports Purdue Space Day, Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories, a 24-acre research center home to the world’s largest academic propulsion lab. And it supports a number of other organizations, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, Food Finders Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity.

Copper Moon works because of its business principles and how it practices them, says Thompson. It’s a family-owned business, and it has local roots. The company produces high-grade coffee, and it is committed to sustainability as well as social, economical and environmental concerns. And it is committed to giving back to the community.

But in the end, it comes back to family. It’s a business that feels like a family. Because, of course, it is a family. Brad and Cary work very well together, Thompson says.

“It’s very much a family,” he says. “They’re a good yin and yang. It works.”

The brothers try to model excellent relationships.

“In business there has to be a lot of give and take, humility and respect for the other’s point of view,” Gutwein says. “We’ve done it our entire lives. We understand each other; we listen. If there are issues, we talk through them.”

And it’s a feeling that extends beyond the brothers; as Thompson points out, a good number of their team have been with them since the Morning Song days, people who work in operations, sales, marketing, graphic design.

And at the heart of the business: coffee. Because what better way to be successful than to love what you do, do what you love?

“Coffee brings people together,” says Gutwein. “It’s a global beverage — it literally is recognized globally. I love coffee.” ★

BY JANE MCLAUGHLIN ANDERSON
MELISSA MORRIS PHOTOGRAPHY

As we happily flip over the calendar to 2021, discover a new place to pursue wellness for mind, body and spirit in Greater Lafayette. The West Lafayette Wellness Center opened in early January, just in time to pursue your New Year’s resolutions. Located in Cumberland Park on the north side of West Lafayette, it is open to everyone, regardless of residence. A recreation and indoor aquatic facility has been on the city’s bucket list for more than 30 years; the timing couldn’t be better to build a holistic center for health. The Wellness Center has something
for everybody.

Wellness Center Director Kevin Noe says, “This is much more than a gym or a fitness center; we are growing a community and building relationships with a wholesome family atmosphere. You can bring your kids in and drop them off at the Clubhouse while you take a class. You can work out while your kids are at basketball practice.” Having the space to create new programs and room to grow is exciting for the West Lafayette Parks Department, which most recently operated out of the former Happy Hollow Elementary School building.

The 7,300-square-foot fitness floor includes a full line-up of strength training and cardio equipment with a view. Wrap-around windows overlook the park, outdoor playground, pond and the adjacent Michaud-Sinninger Nature Preserve, teeming with wildlife. Inviting nature to indoor and outdoor activities sparks energy and wellness, reduces stress and gives people a place to connect with others the old-fashioned way – in person.

The large hybrid pool can accommodate swimmers of all abilities. There are three different ways to enter the pool: zero depth with water features for children, traditional stairs, and a wheelchair lift. The indoor aquatic facility features four lap lanes and areas for swim lessons and group exercise. There’s even a vortex section to walk with or against the current. Dive-In Movies in the pool area are just one of the fun programs in store. Parks Superintendent Kathy Lozano says, “Swimming is a lifelong exercise and something you can do well into your 80s or 90s.”

Like to play games? Great! There are plenty of opportunities to play sports in the two wooden floor basketball-sized gyms or the multi-purpose gym striped for pickleball. A four-lane running/walking track overlooks the gymnasium and is a great way to keep moving in the winter. If you like exercising in a group atmosphere, the Wellness Center has three studios for classes. The Wellness Center will hold youth and adult sports programs and summer camps in this space, but they are not included in the membership fee.

Membership includes unlimited use of the pool, open gym, strength and cardio equipment, indoor walking track, group exercise and wellness classes, and childcare while you work out. Members receive discounts on swim lessons and personal training, along with special member-only activities. Membership is open to everyone; however, households who pay West Lafayette property taxes and active military are exempt from the joiner’s fee.

Non-residents pay the one-time fee in addition to their membership package. No contracts are required, and members may put their accounts on hold for three months a year if needed. A variety of individual and family memberships are available, as well as daily passes. See the website for details, wl.in.gov/parks, or stop by the Wellness Center at 1101 Kalberer Rd., West Lafayette.
Integrating the Wellness Center within Cumberland Park provides opportunities to commune with nature and increase well-being. A marked 5K trail weaves around the grounds of the building and through the park. Eventually, the trail will lead to the new Margerum Government and Community Center.
In its very definition, recreation is the refreshment of one’s mind or body after work through an activity that amuses or stimulates; play. The Well-

ness Center is a prescription for attaining that refreshment.
“The Wellness Center has something for every health seeker,” says Wellness Coordinator Rachel MacDougall. “It’s no secret that exercise has many benefits. The Wellness Center will be a great tool for the community to focus on physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.”
Community rooms can be rented for meetings or gatherings with a nearby warming kitchen available. There’s even a party room by the pool to host children’s birthday parties. DogStudio is commissioned to create an interactive motion-sensing art piece in the lobby guaranteed to captivate and emotionally engage visitors. Check out West Lafayette Parks’ Facebook page for dynamic news, photos and videos of the Wellness Center and all parks and recreation activities. ★

“The Wellness Center will be a great tool for the community to focus on physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.”

BY KEN THOMPSON
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

On a cold winter’s day, or even a warm summer evening, a bowl of soup can be a meal or a side dish to a grilled cheese sandwich.

A good bowl of soup can bring customers into a restaurant, and there are several Greater Lafayette establishments that offer a variety of homemade soups.

“Soups are comfort food,” says Jody Bahler, founder and owner of The Homestead, which has locations in West Lafayette and Remington. “It’s like balm to the soul to enjoy a delicious steamy bowl of homemade soup.”
The Homestead believes in offering a wide variety of soups each month. Including its tomato basil, which is available daily, The Homestead usually has nearly a dozen soups on its monthly menu.

“There is enough to satisfy everyone’s taste buds,” Bahler says. “Everyone enjoys a steamy bowl of soup, especially during these cold wintry months.”

The Homestead’s website, homesteadbuttery.com, has a daily lunch calendar that allows patrons to see what soups are available on a daily basis. The Homestead also packages its soups frozen for customers to heat up at home, a popular business strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked which is the most popular soup among her customers, Bahler couldn’t stop at just one. There are five on her list: tomato basil, baked potato, Boilermaker stew, chicken noodle and cheesy broccoli noodle.

“We have several that rank up at the tip top in sales. Those five are in constant demand, which thrills us that our soups are enjoyed by so many,” Bahler says. Bahler’s personal favorite is tomato basil in combination with The Homestead’s grilled cheese sandwich. She also recommends getting the Boilermaker stew topped with sour cream, crushed cheesy Doritos and extra shredded cheddar cheese.

“Our soups are hearty and do not contain preservatives or fillers,” Bahler says. “They are made completely from scratch in our Homestead production kitchen in Remington, Indiana.”

In case you were wondering, The Homestead offers several gluten-free soups: chicken and rice, chicken tortilla, Homestead chili, tomato basil and white chicken chili.

The Homestead’s West Lafayette location, which is tucked inside Bell Plaza next to Wolf’s Chocolates and Boutique & Gifts by Michele, boasts 22 different varieties of frozen entrees along with pies, cookies, breads and sweet rolls. If the food isn’t enough, The Homestead sells candles, chocolates, jams, Amish noodles, deli meats and cheeses and locally raised freezer beef.

At Trish’s Red Bird Café in Dayton, chicken corn chowder has the honor of being the most popular soup. Not far behind, though, is the breakfast soup.

“I believe that these are so popular because they are so fresh tasting and just warm you up on the inside,” says Red Bird Café owner Trish Brown, whose personal favorite is her tomato basil soup.

“It’s not a traditional tomato soup,” Brown says. “It is very chunky.”

Brown believes the secret to her soups’ popularity is simple.

“I would say our soups are so special because we make them completely from scratch and I can tell you every ingredient in every one,” she says. “Our soups are not the ‘normal’ soups you see in other restaurants. We offer several that were created just for us.”

Trish’s Red Bird Café sells homemade soups by the quart, hot or cold, for $10. The current list includes stuffed bell pepper, loaded potato, broccoli cheese, chili, chicken tortilla, chicken corn chowder, tomato basil bisque and the breakfast soup. All are gluten-free.

“I feel that the Greater Lafayette area likes soups and chili because it is a good way to fill up, and it just makes you think of family,” Brown says. “Growing up in this area most of us ate a lot of soup, so at least for me personally it brings back happy memories. It’s just good comfort, feel-good food.”

Partially for space reasons, Great Harvest Bread Co. doesn’t offer a variety of soups like The Homestead and Trish’s Red Bird Café. However, Great Harvest owner Jerry Lecy says a great deal of care goes into each batch coming out of Great Harvest’s kitchen.

“We make these soups from scratch, so it’s not easy to perfect so many options,” Lecy says. Those options include butternut squash, cheesy broccoli, cream of mushroom, cheesy potato ham, and chili.

Like The Homestead and Trish’s Red Bird Café, Great Harvest customers list tomato basil as a favorite along with velvet chicken.

“The popularity contest between the tomato basil and the velvet chicken is a toss-up,” Lecy says. “Both are desired just as much. My personal
favorite is velvet chicken. I just love the creamy taste and shreds of chicken. The seasoning tops it off.”

For customers who desire to have Great Harvest soups at home, there are dry soup mixes for sale.

“We offer over 20 varieties of these soups that are easy to make and tasty,” Lecy says. “They can be tweaked to a person’s liking with additional ingredients, or it’s simple to just add water and heat up.”

Just as easy is Lecy’s explanation for why he believes soups are a staple of Greater Lafayette dining.

“I believe soup is so desirous in our area for two reasons,” he says. “First, it is a simple meal – don’t need to figure out which main course you want or which sides you want with that. It’s one easy decision: which delicious soup do I want?

“Second, it’s a comfort food (which) warms the soul and body.” ★

BY KAT BRAZ
PHOTOS PROVIDED

The original idea behind Art with a Happy Heart Gallery and Studio was simple: find a way to share art and support the community at the same time. After quickly outgrowing her barn studio, owner and artist Sarah Czajkowski purchased the building previously occupied by Samson and Delilah Salon and Spa at 2139 Ferry St. in Lafayette. She set about transforming the space and opened to the public on July 1.

The gallery showcases artwork from local, regional and international artists while the studio provides an area for private art instruction, classes taught by visiting artists, seasonal craft workshops and paint parties, which is where Czajkowski got her start.

“Paint parties lend themselves to creativity and connection,” she says. “The experience fosters a real sense of self-confidence and pride. Guests are surprised and amazed that they created the artwork themselves.”
Czajkowski also offers a mobile paint party studio where she brings all the supplies to any location up to an hour away. The parties have been popular with girls’ night out groups, family reunions, children’s birthday parties, corporate events, bridal parties, church groups and fundraisers. Paint party kits are also available for purchase in the gallery. During the pandemic, Czajkowski has focused primarily on private group parties. Future plans for the venue include serving wine, beer and a small food menu on the outdoor patio and hosting live music once a week in addition to building out a full calendar of courses in fine art, pottery and jewelry making.

“To be able to do this for a living brings me so much joy,” Czajkowski says. “All I want is for people to be happy while they are here. It’s truly a magical place.”

Adapting art

The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette was founded in 1909 with a three-part mission to collect art, exhibit art and provide educational opportunities for individuals in the community to learn about art and experience art hands on. The museum has remained true to its mission over the years, but COVID-19 presented challenges for traditional in-person instruction. Instead, the museum quickly pivoted to a virtual environment.

“Many of our faculty members created online learning experiences,” says Kendall Smith, executive director and CEO. “We’re trying a lot of new things.”

Last fall, the museum offered virtual classes in painting and drawing for kids and adults through Zoom and Facebook Live. Additionally, watercolor kits are available for purchase through the museum shop for students to use at home while watching a series of watercolor technique videos recorded by a member of the museum faculty. The pottery studio remains open to advanced students with limited occupancy.

“The reaction from the community has been very positive,” Smith says. “Several of our online children’s art classes have sold out right after they were announced. We plan to continue to offer virtual education and create video productions to enhance what we offer in the future. We’re all learning a lot.”

Art Classes Around Town

» All Fired Up
In addition to its paint-your-own pottery studio, All Fired Up offers off-site parties and pottery-to-go kits with everything you need to complete a masterpiece. Items painted with pottery paints can be returned to the store for firing to make them food safe. Decorative items that do not need to be food safe can be finished in acrylic paints. Learn more at allfiredupwestlafayette.com.

» Art Museum of Greater Lafayette
Find online art activities and tutorials as well as information about virtual art classes for youth and adults at the Art Museum’s website, artlafayette.org.

» Art with a Happy Heart
In addition to private paint parties, artist-led workshops and even yoga classes, this recently opened studio and gallery holds open studio events where you’ll walk away with your own seasonal craft. Find out more at artwithahappyheart.com.

» Inspired Fire
Owned and operated by glass artist Sharon Owens, this glass studio and gallery located in Shadeland offers a range of classes for ages 6 and up with no experience required. See a complete list of class offerings at inspiredfire.com.

» Lafayette Atelier
Modeled after private art studio schools that emerged in 19th century Europe, this nonprofit art education studio was founded by artist James C. Werner. Focused on classical methods of drawing, painting and sculpture, the studio offers weekly demonstration and life
drawing nights. Find them on Facebook @classicalfinearttraining.

» LaLa Gallery & Studio
Owner Angela Taylor teaches lessons, classes, parties, groups and students with special needs starting with children (3+) to adults in her private pottery studio located in the Bindery Artist Studios. Each class offering can be customized according to the student’s interest and level of experience. For more information, visit lalagallery.com.

» West Lafayette Parks and Recreation
Everything from basket weaving to watercolor to photography is on offer through West Lafayette Parks and Recreation. All programs take place at 1200 N. Salisbury St. (site of the former Happy Hollow Elementary School). View the entire recreation brochure at westlafayette.in.gov/parks.

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS

PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV (PAGES 11-17)

A longing for connection in a historic downtown. A desire to share a passion for the arts. The lure of a 19th century family homestead. From urban to rural, and from long-established to brand new, every small business in Greater Lafayette has a uniquely personal reason for putting down roots here. Here are the origin stories for five of them. 

Mad Love Boutique

210 N. Sixth St., Lafayette

store.madlovebb.com

Stephanie and Chris Deckard, owners of Velvet Lotus Photography, lived on Perrin Avenue for nine years before moving to a westside subdivision. “We immediately felt so detached, even with our studio still in town,” Stephanie says. 

Relocating their business from Kossuth Street to the heart of the city, the couple settled into their new digs. Then Stephanie had a brainstorm. “Having clothing to style my clients in felt like a natural shift, without being so overwhelming that I couldn’t work my photography as well,” she says. 

Nearly two years ago, Mad Love Boutique opened next door to the photography studio. In a space that the couple renovated themselves, Stephanie sells women’s clothing, jewelry and accessories among antique furnishings. 

Her favorite offerings: jewelry by Autumn Rose Designs, a mother-daughter team based in Greater Lafayette, and Hiptipico luxury bags, handmade in Guatemala. “All of the textiles and bags are made by female artisans, and that makes my heart happy,” she says. “I’m a proud supporter of BLM, LGBTQ+ and women’s rights.”

When businesses shut down in March because of COVID-19, the couple quickly moved all their inventory online. Chris took photos of Stephanie modeling the clothes, which range in size from extra small to 3XL.

Now that the store has started to reopen, Stephanie says she looks forward to expanding her hours again and seeing some familiar faces. “I love to talk, so if you come in to shop, you can expect a conversation,” she says. 

Wea Creek Orchard

5618 S. 200 East, Lafayette

weacreekorchard.com

Perry Kirkham and his brother were both working in Washington, D.C., when, in 2007, they each relocated to Indiana around the same time. While they got settled, the brothers lived on the family homestead. 

The farmland surrounding the house had been in their family since 1855, and they wanted to continue its agricultural legacy. But, “the fences here had been taken down and we no longer had access to any conventional farming equipment,” Kirkham says. 

“We discussed various options and landed on fruit trees. We formed the orchard in January of 2008, planted 400 fruit trees in April of 2008 and here we are!”

Co-owned by Kirkham and his wife, Lisa, Wea Creek Orchard is located on Lafayette’s south side and sells 19 varieties of apples, four varieties of peaches, and pumpkins. “I like the Akane apples the best,” Kirkham says. “It is a wonderful combination of sweet and tart and is full of flavor.” 

Inside the store are also jellies, preserves, salsas, butters and honey, along with succulents, hanging baskets and sunflowers. The orchard also hosts weddings, on average 27 a year, in the 1869-era barn. School kids also come on field trips. 

“We decided long ago we would never charge to come on the farm, so theoretically anyone can visit and enjoy the property without spending a dime,” Kirkham says. 

“Of course, we hope they don’t.”

Inspired Fire Glass Studio and Gallery 

2124 SR 25, Lafayette

inspiredfire.com

Sharon Owens, a Lafayette native and Indiana University art graduate, fell in love with glassmaking while taking a flame-working class at Purdue University in 1979. After studying the art around the United States and in Europe, she opened Inspired Fire Glass Studio and Gallery in 2002 to share her passion with her hometown.

Her shop, two miles off US 231 on the edge of Shadeland, promotes more than 30 local artists and provides a place for them to work and teach flame-working, fusing and furnace glass blowing to the Greater Lafayette community. Beginner and advanced classes are available, as well as field trips and custom parties. Due to the pandemic, the shop is open for limited hours. A gallery dog, Zing Zang, greets shoppers at the door. 

Since opening in 2002, the Inspired Fire building has undergone several remodels and expansions, including a recent upgrade to the façade and the addition of viewing windows in the gallery so that shoppers can watch artists at work. 

Owens’ personal specialty is crafting vibrantly colored vessels with techniques such as hand-pulled murrini, the making of patterns using long rods of glass that are cut into cross sections. “I draw inspiration from nature, and the glass vessels and jewelry I create are colorful interpretations of transparency and opacity swimming within layers of joy,” she says. 

Blooms and Petals Fresh Flowers & Event Concepts

848 Main St., Lafayette

bloomsandpetals.net

East Chicago, Indiana, native Paula Eve Davis came to Tippecanoe County for college, eventually settling down here with her husband. “I really felt that it was a great area to raise a family, and there were plenty of opportunities. I still feel that way,” says Davis, a master designer, certified balloon artist and founder of Blooms and Petals Fresh Flowers & Event Concepts. 

The Purdue University graduate began her floral career more than 20 years ago, growing and selling flowers at the Lafayette Farmers Market and craft shows. Then she branched out to weddings and proms. “I had flowers all over my home, and eventually my husband decided I needed a retail flower shop,” Davis recalls. “He secretly found the space and leased it. For our wedding anniversary, he brought me the keys to my new shop.”

Davis’ store makes fresh arrangements using flowers from all over the world. “We like dealing directly with our growers to get the most variety and the freshest product,” says Davis, whose business is 70 percent retail and 30 percent event florals. Among her favorite events are celebrations of life and funeral floral tributes. 

This spring, during the height of the shutdown, Davis founded the Good Samaritan Project to repurpose flowers she had preordered for St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and prom. She donated bouquets and gift baskets to police departments, fire departments and nursing homes. 

Escape Velocity Brewing Company

405 Sagamore Parkway South, Lafayette

escapevelocitybrewing.com

Jason Behenna began homebrewing in 2007, and by 2015 he was winning awards. When his Irish Stout won Best in Show at the Indiana Brewers Cup in 2016, he and his wife, Heather Howard, began exploring the idea of their own brewery. 

More than two years after moving back to Lafayette, the Purdue grads found a suitable space. As they were readying to launch in March, COVID-19 grounded non-essential businesses. “We have impeccable timing,” Behenna says. 

After starting curbside pickup in April, the couple, along with managing partner Colin Jelliffe, finally opened their tap room doors in May.

Escape Velocity Brewing Company has a five-barrel Blichmann Engineering brewing system, which can produce around 200 gallons. Within the colorful, space-themed environment, patrons can choose from a variety of beers whose names are all space- or rocket-related. 

Their bestselling beer is the Drogue Chute IPA. Another favorite is Behenna’s award-winning Magnificent Desolation Dry Irish Stout. The all vegetarian/vegan menu includes curried chickpea salad on sourdough bread and grilled cheese with either Irish cheddar, pepper jack or Chao vegan cheese. 

It goes without saying that starting a new business during a pandemic is hard. But while Behenna continues to build a following, he hopes locals will support not only him but also his fellow restaurateurs and brewers.

“The pandemic is really hurting the industry, and local support is the only thing that will ensure there are restaurants and breweries to continue … for years to come,” he says.

BY CINDY GERLACH

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY VISIT LAFAYETTE – WEST LAFAYETTE

If someone had suggested 15 or 20 years ago that you take a drive down Wabash Avenue, that suggestion may have been met with hesitation — apprehension, even. 

And a suggestion to view the art? Laughable. 

Today, what was formerly a hidden neighborhood, a sort of secret enclave of life along the Wabash River, is now a bright spot. And much of the credit goes to Wabash Walls. 

This public art installation, a series of murals painted on the sides of buildings both residential and commercial, has breathed new life into this decades-old neighborhood, often considered on the fringe of Lafayette society. 

The project got started back in 2016 and 2017, says Tetia Lee, executive director of the Tippecanoe Arts Federation and one of the curators of Wabash Walls. 

“At the time, as an artist myself, I’m always looking around,” Lee says. “When I see a beautiful wall, I think a mural would look great there.”

Lee was struck by a retaining wall along Second Avenue; the wheels of inspiration started turning. She ran into Margy Deverall with the City of Lafayette at a Neighborhood Beautification Coalition meeting. She threw the idea at Deverall: Let’s do a mural festival.

“It was all very organic,” says Lee. “We were both ready to take a bigger next step.”

And, as they say, from small things, big things come. The conversation began to draw in others — Stephanie Bible with Habitat for Humanity, artist Cameron Moberg, and Dennis Carson with the City of Lafayette. A proposal was put together, and initial funding provided $50,000 for a project that would be transformative, uplifting and engaging.

The result is a project that has indeed reinvigorated and re-branded the neighborhood. Lee has seen buy-in from not just the artists, but from local businesses – Cargill Inc. came on early as a sponsor — and neighbors. Everyone has delighted in watching the neighborhood come alive with color. 

Wabash Avenue has long been considered a marginalized area. The working-class neighborhood, often referred to as the “lower part” of town, is a stronghold of a bygone era. And its reputation has suffered over the past several decades.

It’s a bad rap that seems undeserved, as a current drive through the area reveals tidy houses with well-kept lawns and a diverse population, with younger people gravitating there to live and work. Not to mention a neighborhood spirit that is evident.

“The most important part is that we established a trust with a neighborhood that is marginalized and over promised,” Lee says.

The Wabash Avenue residents were quick to get on board with the project. Early on, Lee says, they opened their doors, inviting her in as the early stages of the feasibility study kicked off. 

“They became the vital and most-important part of informing the neighborhood study,” Lee says. “That really demonstrates trust between the city and the neighborhood.”

People who live there can see the charm that others might not. And the murals helped highlight the beauty hovering at the surface.

“They got excited about having artwork in their neighborhood,” Lee says. And about the influx of visitors, as the artists and those who want to view the art descended on their once hidden part of town. 

“That’s the real reason it’s been so successful,” Lee says. 

Trent O’Brien and his wife, April, run Sacred Ground Coffee House. Like most of the neighborhood, they have seen nothing but positives come out of Wabash Walls. 

“It was definitely a really good thing,” O’Brien says. “The whole area has changed.”

O’Brien has seen people getting more involved in the neighborhood, becoming more welcoming. Last year, Sacred Grounds helped host a neighborhood Harvest Festival. Years ago, maybe a handful of people would have shown up, but this 2019 festival brought out hundreds of people.

“This never would have happened 15 years ago,” O’Brien says. “I do believe the art has helped.”

This opening up of the neighborhood, this newfound sense of community is a credit to the art and the artists, he says. 

“It brought people here who were out to see the art,” O’Brien says. “It has been very positive.”

In 2018, 10 murals were painted in the neighborhood; 2019 saw 11 more added. Artists featured were from all over — not just the United States, but from as far away as Australia. The onset of COVID-19 delayed the progress for 2020, but the project will expand to areas around the avenue, including crosswalk art to encourage more pedestrian-friendly zones. 

Funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and Indiana Department of Health have helped the project continue for a third year. 

The fun and funky murals are a boon for the neighborhood, providing beauty, conversation and a real sense of shared identity. Visitors have come from all over the city, the county, even the state, anxious to check out the project. 

But the real benefits are more far-reaching. Lee says they’ve seen property values increase as the art has helped improve the area, making it a better, healthier place for residents to live and interact with one another. Once-abandoned buildings have been reclaimed and now feature murals. The micro-economy in the neighborhood has improved as the area has rebranded. It’s a huge improvement in the quality of life. 

Working with the neighbors, watching the project come to life has been an amazing process, says Lee.

“Wabash Walls continues to be a highlight to my career,” she says. “I could not have asked for a better neighborhood to work in. They treat me like family. I’m an honorary resident — I love it.”

Because at the end of the day, it’s truly about people.

It’s about the artists who have spent time in the neighborhood, sharing their stories with folks who would stop to watch the work and visit for a bit. It’s about the residents who have opened their arms, welcoming and embracing both the artists and the patrons who come to see the art. It’s about businesses that have come alive and welcomed the partnership of the artists, encouraging the camaraderie among all involved.

It’s the story, Lee says, of the transformative power of art.

“More than ever, we are turning to the arts to remind us that we’re human.”

BY CINDY GERLACH

PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Small Business Saturday is a national movement launched in 2011, designed to get shoppers into smaller locally owned businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Locally, friendly neighborhood businesses partner with Greater Lafayette Commerce and offer specials and swag bags, resulting in a festive holiday shopping atmosphere. 

Small boutique shops offer products that are often local and more specialized, says Richelle Peterson, owner of Richelle in a Handbasket at Market Square. 

“We’re all about gifts,” she says. “We go back to the basics of giving with a purpose.”

At Richelle in a Handbasket, the shopping experience is very low-key and stress-free, very friendly. Customers are always greeted with a warm hello, Peterson says, and the shopping experience is very personal. There won’t be fighting in line or battles over items; instead, people will sit back, enjoy a cup of hot cocoa, and find exactly the gift they were looking for, as Peterson and her staff help customize gift baskets and selections.

“It’s like you’re coming into my house,” Peterson says. “It’s warm, it’s very laid back, very happy.”

Helping customers find exactly the gift they are looking for, and not just settling for what is easy, is part of the shop’s mission, says Peterson. They specialize in customized gift baskets, which can be tailored to meet a customer’s exact needs, thus creating the perfect gift.

“We help people put thought into their gifts,” she says. “We try to make it a little more personal. People can take their time. It’s about the thought — we help with that. We’re here to help, not to push.”

At Boutique LoriAnn, 101 N. Sixth St., the emphasis is on quality and catering to customers’ exact needs, says owner Lori Schlaifer. Holiday shopping in the boutique will be upscale and, again, more personal. 

The shop won’t be as crowded as a women’s clothing retailer at a mall, she says. And because she only orders a very limited number of each item, a customer can be sure that she won’t see everyone she knows wearing the exact same item she buys.

Because her boutique is small, Schlaifer gets to know — really know — her customers, their likes and preferences. When an item comes that she thinks might suit someone, she lets them know. 

“It’s more intimate,” she says. “It’s more personal.”

Down the road at Stall & Kessler’s, 333 Columbia St., the focus is also on personalization and customization, says co-owner Kris Kessler. The shop values all its customers, he says — “We’re excited to see anyone walk in the front door.”

As a specialty business, they do focus on high-end jewelry, and pieces are customized to each person’s needs — everything from earrings, bracelets and necklaces to cufflinks and specially designed rings. People tend to think that means a higher price tag, Kessler says. But that is not necessarily the case. 

Plus, he feels they are selling much more than a mere product.

“We’re selling on a deeper level than most retailers,” he says. “We are selling quality pieces of jewelry that celebrate these moments in people’s lives. I really find the joy and the connection when people come in and are celebrating that engagement or anniversary.

“Yes, what we’re selling is rock and metal. But it’s part of these moments in a lifetime. We really cherish that.”

There are people who might find shopping downtown intimidating, fearful of finding — or, more importantly, not finding — parking, or of stores not feeling welcoming. That could not be further from the truth, say both Schlaifer and Kessler. 

“One of the nice things we have downtown is parking that is 15 feet away from our front door,” Kessler says. “At the mall, it’s a lot longer walk.”

Schlaifer agrees — it’s one of the benefits of her location at the corner of Sixth and Columbia streets, which is surrounded by two-hour parking spots.

“It’s pretty easy to find parking,” she says.  

When people shop in locally owned businesses, much more of the profit stays in town. According to shopsmall.com, for every dollar spent at a small business, about 67 cents stays in the local community. Locally, businesses noted an 80 percent increase in sales on Shop Small Saturday over a regular Saturday, according to Greater Lafayette Commerce. 

Peterson says this is definitely part of the appeal of Richelle in a Handbasket, which proudly features locally made products.

“People shop here because we have Indiana products, a plethora of them,” she says. 

The effects of COVID-19 will certainly affect how people shop this holiday season. Kessler says their store has never been cleaner as they focus on keeping their environment as safe as possible for everyone. 

And Peterson says she has seen a huge shift in how people interact given the limits on how people can be together. She has shipped a lot of gifts so people can send a little love with a gift basket, because people can’t be near those they care about. 

“I think people have forgotten how to be human in their giving,” Peterson says. “A lot more matters. Families, people, neighbors matter. I think it’s brought some humanity back.”

But the biggest benefit of shopping small is the relationships among people. Kessler says he has seen many people turn to online shopping during these days of the pandemic. Stall & Kessler’s is not set up for online shopping. However, he says, their staff can make that work. They were recently able to help a customer purchase a piece of jewelry as an 80th birthday gift — over the phone. It was an accommodation they were happy to make.

“We really appreciate the people who choose to support us,” he says.

Christmas shopping should be fun. Gift-giving should be about the thought and about the experience. Local businesses, Peterson says, are better able to make those connections with customers and make it happen.

“We like talking to people,” she says. “We want people to enjoy shopping and enjoy giving, not break the bank. In today’s world, that matters.” 

Exciting changes for Shop Small 2020

Greater Lafayette Commerce and its Main Street committee are developing a series of scavenger hunts, using the GooseChase app, to promote local businesses this Shop Small season. The scavenger hunts will run through December 31. Participating small businesses will create missions for people playing the games. Players need only download the app on their phones and click the shop small missions.

The scavenger hunts will include missions where participants take photos of special items within stores, photos of the foods they eat, or videos of them making purchases. Players will compete for points; the more missions someone completes, the more points they earn. There will be prizes for top point earners (swag bags filled with gifts and gift certificates from participating businesses). 

To help maintain social distancing the missions will be randomly ordered to drive players to different stores every day. 

“We know our small businesses are gearing up this year to offer consumers unique products and gifts.  We hope the players find the scavenger hunts to be a fun way to get their competitive juices flowing while getting them out to the retailers’ shops,” says Mark Lowe, small business consultant for Greater Lafayette Commerce. 

You can learn more about Shop Small Greater Lafayette at greaterlafayettecommerce.com Or contact Mark Lowe at mlowe@greaterlafayettecommerce.com. To participate in the Shop Small Greater Lafayette scavenger hunts, players can download the GooseChase app at goosechase.com or from the google or apple app stores. 

BY CINDY GERLACH

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY PURDUE MEMORIAL UNION

From the outside, the Purdue Memorial Union stands unchanged, a testament to the past hundred years. The stately brick structure, a mainstay of the Purdue University campus for the better part of a century, welcomes students and visitors alike, as a place to gather and commune. 

Yet the once-familiar interior is undergoing a transformation. In some ways, it will look much as it always has, with its architectural themes remaining strong and constant. Yet in so many other ways — some obvious, some more subtle — the Union is recreating itself, thanks to a massive renovation project.

And all in the name of Purdue.

The Union, as so many students have experienced it over the past century, is much like its counterparts around the country. There was a wave of student union construction following World War I; these gothic-inspired buildings opened on campuses in the early 1920s as a monument to men and women from these universities who had fought and died in that war.

Pond and Pond, the architectural firm commissioned to build the Purdue Memorial Union, also built student unions in the 1920s at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and the University of Kansas.

The Purdue Memorial Union opened its doors in 1924. Shops, restaurants and even a bowling alley, along with offices for student services, are all housed in the Union; the Union Club Hotel opened in 1929 when the building was completed.

The basic function of the Union has not, and will not change, says Zane Reif, senior director of the Purdue Memorial Union. But some intentional rebranding has been worked into the renovations.

“We didn’t have any kind of homage to Purdue,” Reif says. “You didn’t walk in and feel like you were at Purdue.”

The $47 million project was funded in part by a gift from Bruce White, an alumnus and founder of White Lodging, a hotel property management group. An additional gift comes from the Dean and Barbara White Foundation.

The first phase of the project, which includes a renovation of the Union Club Hotel, wrapped up in August. The hotel, whose rooms had felt a little tired and dated, has reopened and now sports an updated, more boutique feel. With 182 rooms, it’s still the largest hotel in Tippecanoe County, says Reif, despite losing about 10 rooms as the space was reconfigured.

The lobby, with its new skylight, has a more open and airy feel about it. With select Purdue-themed memorabilia on the walls, the connection to Purdue is much more evident. All guest rooms have been updated; the fitness center was enlarged and reconfigured. A new lobby bar and a hidden patio add to the amenities guests will enjoy.

And, of course, the hotel is a learning lab, as students in the Hospitality & Tourism Management Program take advantage of the real-life experience of seeing an actual hotel in operation.

Epicureans will delight in the new restaurant, 8Eleven Modern Bistro — the name is yet another Purdue reference, paying tribute to two of NASA’s programs, Gemini 8 and Apollo 11. The upscale menu features an eclectic mix of American dishes with French touches, along with farm-inspired cocktails and local craft beers. And the chef’s kitchen is on display, with large windows allowing visitors to watch food preparation in a space that doubles as a training ground for students.

Bundled with the Boiler Up Bar, which features a bourbon room and signature cocktails, guests will not have far to go to relax at the end of the day.

Inside the rest of the Union, changes are in store. Pappy’s Sweet Shop and the 1869 Tap Room are closed and will not return in those locations, though parts of Pappy’s will return in a different configuration in the Union. 

Some shops and restaurants are moving around. When the food court reopens, it will not feature your typical student union fast food, says Reif. Instead, 11 new concepts are coming, with Asian, Latin and European influences. Included is Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux, co-owned by Drew Brees, the first appearance of that eatery in a student union, as well as a dining option operated by Scott Trzaskus, Purdue graduate and owner of East End Grill in downtown Lafayette. 

The main floor of the Union will be updated and restored. But the building will retain its original character and remain true to the architecture, Reif says. 

“It will have a traditional feel, but a modern traditional feel,” he says. “We’re returning as much original stuff as we can.”

The Purdue branding will continue, he says, and the historic arch motif, visible in the windows and also incorporated into the design of much original furniture — some of it still in use — will also remain. 

Terraces are being built along State Street, on the south side of the Union; doors will open from inside, giving the area a trendy yet traditional feel. This will increase space for outdoor activities, making the Union much more of a destination for locals, Reif says. 

Inside, the space will be modernized. Technology will be updated; there will be better restroom placement, including family and gender inclusive restrooms. 

“We will maintain the best traditions of the building while including modern technology,” says Reif.

The project is slated to be complete by January of 2022, Reif says. When the building reopens, visitors will see the same Memorial Union they have come to know and love. But they will see it slightly updated and modernized. It will be more user-friendly to all visitors — more accessible, more welcoming. It will be the perfect space for students and the community alike. And above all, it will have its own identity, Reif says.

BY KEN THOMPSON

PHOTO BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

In a region that has more than its share of locally owned restaurants competing with national chains, it should be no surprise that Greater Lafayette has a mixture of long-time favorite donut shops, two others on the way to earning that status and a newcomer that is growing its clientele.

Mary Lou Donuts

Mary Lou Donuts opened for business in 1961, but the only thing about it that feels close to its age is its mid-century modern A-frame building on South Fourth Street.

That’s because owner Jeff Waldon is always thinking about the future while making the most of the present. What did Waldon see when he purchased Mary Lou’s in 2017?

“That it could be bigger than that little A-frame on Fourth Street,” says Waldon, a former teacher and Lafayette Jeff girls basketball coach. “The people who came before me – Mary Lou Graves, Keith Cochran and especially Brian Freed, who spent 37 years of his life there – 27 years as owner, 10 as a worker. They made that place. All we needed to do was not screw that up.”

Waldon and his son, Courtney, made sure of that by sticking to what makes Mary Lou’s so popular. They make their own glaze, whipped cream filling and icing. 

“It’s a fresher product,” Waldon says. “The more you can make it like home-made, the better it’s going to be.”

COVID-19 affected Mary Lou’s like it has virtually every business in the United States. Closing time is now at 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Mary Lou’s is closed Sundays, and that will remain in effect even when the pandemic guidelines are rolled back.

Mary Lou’s counter remains closed but the drive-thru is doing good business. Even the regulars have found a way to enjoy their coffee and donuts.

“I used to have a 9 o’clock group, a 10:30 group and I had my 1 o’clock guys, motorcycle riders who would come by and eat every day,” Waldon says. “My 4 o’clock group that was there until we closed, and we usually had to kick them out at 5, now some of those people are coming in the morning and sitting in their lawn chairs in the parking lot.”

One of Waldon’s innovations – the food truck – also has been mostly sidelined by COVID-19. The good news is he’s getting ready to roll it back out this fall in smaller communities.

When the food truck hits the road, demand will be high for Mary Lou’s apple fritter.

“It’s the best one ever, anywhere,” Waldon says. “No one makes one like it anywhere.”

Like elsewhere across the country, the glazed yeast donut is popular. So is Mary Lou’s blueberry cake donut. Waldon looks forward to when he can reopen the front doors so he can sell more iced sugar cookies and cut-out iced cookies. Waldon boasts of having sold 15,000 cut-out cookies at Christmas.

“We just started doing blueberry muffins, chocolate, chocolate chip and banana nut chocolate chip,” he says. “Not everybody loves donuts and when you get something for the family, we want to make sure everybody gets something.”

Mary Lou’s will get a boost when the Big Ten Network airs its third season of “Campus Eats.” The production team spent the weekend of Sept. 12 at Mary Lou’s.

If Waldon gets the chance, here’s the message he’d like to send to Big Ten country.

“Wherever you came from, you probably had a favorite donut. And if it’s unfortunate enough to have been one of the big chain donuts, you really missed out. If you have a favorite hometown donut, you are going to go to (Mary Lou’s) and you’re going to forget about all those other places. The thing about our product—and I hear it over and over and over again—is that people will say I’ve never had another donut like this anywhere. The taste, the texture, the size of donut I get, the quality and the price, it’s ridiculous.”

O’Rear’s

This mainstay of downtown Lafayette has been around since the 1920s when William O’Rear opened the bakery. O’Rear’s moved to its current location, 312 N. Ninth St., in 1957.

Greg and Judy Lintner have owned O’Rear’s since 2005, coming from a family that owned a bakery in Rensselaer for 47 years.

“When we came from Rensselaer … we were more of a breakfast roll and cake bakery but we did everything: cookies, brownies, pies,” Greg Lintner says. “You name it, we did it, just like here. The only difference is we do a few rolls compared to a ton of rolls we did in Rensselaer. We are more of a pastry shop with all our cookies, cupcakes and brownies. I like it a lot better.”

Lintner admits that competing with the likes of Mary Lou and Corlew Donuts is difficult since donuts are “90-some percent of their business.”

“Whereas when you come in here you see just a few pans of donuts we make,” he says. “Sometimes what’s so frustrating is you make six or seven pans and sell three. The next day you sell them out and customers ask where are your donuts.

“My mother and father told me from the get-go when I first got into the business, if you can figure out the American public, you have done something that we have not done yet. You don’t know from one day to the next who is coming through that door.”

When customers do come in to O’Rear’s, they ask for pastries, cupcakes, cut-out cookies and regular cookies. Two big sellers are the butter stars and tea cookies.

“Judy makes those two or three times a week,” Lintner says. “She’ll always tell me, ‘You’re not going to believe this but we have to make tea cookies again.’ Just to show you the difference between Rensselaer and here: the red star cookies that we do are a staple here. In Rensselaer, it was strictly a holiday cookie. 

In addition to closing six days a week at 1 p.m. (O’Rear’s is closed on Mondays), COVID-19 has affected business. With the churches being closed in the early days of the pandemic due to Indiana’s stay-at-home mandate, Sundays were no longer one of O’Rear’s most profitable days. 

But a couple of positives did come out of the COVID-19 regulations. 

“Since coming back now, our cakes are even fresher than they used to be,” Lintner says. “Now we make smaller batches, so they are even fresher and more moist.”

O’Rear’s also changed the way it displays its baked goods. 

“One good thing that’s immensely helped is everything is now packaged,” Lintner explains. “Whereas before people almost frowned on the fact that it was packaged. They wanted it from the pan, open aired. Now our shelf life has doubled or tripled because it stays fresher longer.”

Hammer Donuts

The West Lafayette bakery gets the word out to Purdue University students and the public about its product mostly through social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Owner Michael Cho, who started working at Hammer Donuts as a manager, says marketing was a lot easier before COVID-19 sent most of his clientele packing from Purdue housing.

“We lost a few orders due to the impact of this pandemic. We used to have weekly standing orders from a few churches and wedding orders from time to time. However, we are fortunate that we still have the order from Circle K convenience stores, which can keep our business running,” he says. 

The seven Circle K Stores in West Lafayette are now the only places to buy Hammer donuts. The pandemic forced Hammer to alter its sales from retail to a store-to-store business.

Cho believes in the potential for Hammer Donuts’ growth, so much so that he says he decided to take a risk and take over when the previous owner, a partner of Discount Den, was selling it.

Popular items include filled donuts, glazed yeast donuts and cereal topping donuts.

“We are a local business and we try our best to keep everything local,” Cho says. “Our employees are mostly Purdue students. Almost all of them are inexperienced and for many of them, this was their first job. We taught and trained them how to make donuts from scratch.

“We often support student events by donating free donuts. We are a new and growing company, but we are always trying our best to give back to our community.”

Mama Ines Mexican Bakery

Rosa Cornejo is one of 10 children raised by Maria Ines Cornejo in the small village of Salazares Tlatenango in Zacatecas, Mexico.

There, Rosa Cornejo developed her personal philosophy of “everyone else’s ‘can’t’ is my “I can.’”

After moving to Lafayette and establishing herself in the community, Cornejo likely heard people saying “she can’t” when opening the bakery named after her mother. 

What those doubters didn’t realize was that the decision to open a bakery was not made lightly. Rosa and her sister, Livier Alvarez, saw many Mexican restaurants in Greater Lafayette but not many bakers that were serving Mexican bread. That’s as much a staple in the Latino diet as donuts are to Americans.

From a modest beginning, a 1,000-square-foot location on Greenbush Street and Sagamore Parkway, Mama Ines made the big leap into an 11,000-square-foot building in 2014, once occupied by Ryan’s Grill, Buffet and Bakery.

Mama Ines’ authentic holiday Mexican fare of Day of the Dead bread and Sugar Skulls drew attention from the PBS show “A Few Great Bakeries” in 2015. In 2016, Cornejo was cited by the state of Indiana as the Latino Business Owner of the Year.

In addition to Mexican Sweet Bread, the bakery’s most popular items are tamales and burritos, cakes, flan and specialty desserts, cookies, fresh fruit and vegetable juices. Mama Ines also is proud of its wedding cakes, made with only fresh, all-natural ingredients.

Corlew Donut Co.

The apple fritter is also a popular item on the menu at Corlew Donut Co., which has been in business since 1999.

Debbie and Tom Corlew were among the first to see the potential for business along what is now Veterans Memorial Parkway. They’ve been rewarded with a loyal following that indulges in cinnamon rolls, tiger tails, cream-filled bismarcks and blueberry cake donuts.

Corlew Donut Co. is open Tuesday through Sunday from 5 to 11 a.m.

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY VISIT LAFAYETTE – WEST LAFAYETTE AND NICHES LAND TRUST

“Indiana … is a garden

Where the seeds of peace have grown,

Where each tree, and vine, and flower

Has a beauty … all its own.

Lovely are the fields and meadows,

That reach out to hills that rise

Where the dreamy Wabash River

Wanders on … through paradise.”

In his ode to Indiana, “Indiana,” that was adopted as the official state poem in 1963, Arthur Franklin Mapes (1913-1986) did not specify during which season he most enjoyed the fields, hills and the wandering Wabash River. Most of us today would agree, however, that when the greens of an Indiana summer transition to the golds, auburns and russets of fall, it’s a great time to get out into nature. 

In anticipation of this most colorful season, we laced up our athletic shoes and road-tested several trails in Greater Lafayette, including some far off the beaten path. Here are our recommendations.

Clegg Memorial Garden

Ninety years ago, Harold and Ruth Clegg purchased a plot of land overlooking Wildcat Creek as a country home. After the death of their only son, they turned their private garden into a public memorial and added trails for visitors to enjoy. Today, the botanical garden is owned by Niches Land Trust, a west central Indiana conservation group whose offices are located in the former Clegg cottage. Sloping 100 feet down into the valley, the well-maintained paths meander through a variety of ecosystems, including woodland, prairie and savanna. During fall’s peak, the canopied forest displays an array of vibrant colors. Bridges connect some parts of the trails, but be careful of some narrow slopes on the way downhill. 

• 1782 N. 400 East, Lafayette

• Parking: Gravel lot across the road from the property entrance

• 16.5 acres with 1.1 miles of trails

• nicheslandtrust.org

Granville Sand Barrens

Ten miles southwest of West Lafayette lies a rare Indiana example of a sand barren, a sandy-soiled area that appeared in the wake of glacial melts. The Granville Sand Barrens, adjacent to the Roy Whistler Wildlife Area, includes a restored prairie and savanna. Niches Land Trust has mowed a half-mile trail along which you can enjoy a dense group of golden aster — also a rarity in the state — and other wildflowers. The sandy soil is most visible just before the trail connects with a forested section that is part of the Roy 

Whistler Wildlife Area. 

• Southwest of Granville Bridge in western Tippecanoe County

Closed in November for deer-control hunting

• Parking: Gravel and grass lot at the trailhead

• Size: 80 acres with a .5 mile-trail connecting to the Roy Whistler Wildlife Area

• nicheslandtrust.org

Mulvey Pond

Considered one of the better places in the West Lafayette area to see waterfowl and shorebirds, Mulvey Pond is nestled among farmland, wetland and marshland just off US 231 near Montmorenci, an unincorporated town north of West Lafayette. Niches Land Trust operators have mowed a labyrinth of sorts into the tall prairie grasses around the pond, where birds and insects drown out the hum of nearby roads.

• Near Montmorenci off US 231 

Seasonal Features: Waterfowl migration

• Parking: Gravel lot at the trailhead

• Size: 52 acres with mowed trails through the prairie

• nicheslandtrust.org

Celery Bog Nature Area

Once a large vegetable farm operated by immigrants from Holland, the Celery Bog Nature Area now provides a suburban respite near several neighborhoods and apartment complexes. Operated by the West Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department, it contains both paved and unpaved trails rambling through prairie, savanna, woodlands and marshland. Cattail Trail, which runs through the Celery Bog and passes by Lilly Nature Center, is part of the city’s 27-mile paved trail system and is designated as a National Recreation Trail. Bicycling is allowed in paved areas.

• 1620 Lindberg Rd., West Lafayette

• Parking: Paved and gravel lots near trailheads and the Lilly Nature Center

• Restrooms: Lilly Nature Center 

• Size: 195 acres, with 4.3 miles of paved trails and several footpaths with interpretive signs and viewing decks

• westlafayette.in.gov

Trailhead Park

North of the Celery Bog, tucked away near Purdue Research Park, is the tiny Trailhead Park. The park links to a fairly wide, straight section of the National Recreational Trail-designated Northwest Greenway Trail. Walkers, runners, bicyclists and rollerbladers share this section of the paved path, which starts at the roadside park and connects to the Soleado Vista neighborhood up north. South of Kalberer Road, the trail continues, eventually joining up with Cattail Trail. If you travel east along Kalberer, the trail connects to Cumberland Park.

• Intersection of Kalberer Road and Kent Avenue, West Lafayette

• Parking: Just east of the trail, next to a shelter and picnic tables

• Size: 4 acres

• westlafayette.in.gov

Armstrong Park 

A beautifully landscaped greenspace with tennis courts, softball fields and the Castaway Bay swimming pool, Armstrong Park anchors the corner of South Ninth Street 

and Beck Lane on the south side of Lafayette. Named after Purdue alumnus and astronaut Neil Armstrong, the park features Armstrong Trail, a paved asphalt loop encircling the pond. Lafayette Parks & Recreation maintains the trail, part of 6 miles of paved trails in the city, along with many more unpaved. All Lafayette trails are available for walking, running, bicycling, rollerblading and cross-country skiing. Pets must be leashed. Because of its popularity as a dog-walking destination, Armstrong Trail may not be suitable for dogs that aren’t well-socialized. 

• 821 Beck Lane, Lafayette

• Parking: Several lots, including one near the tennis courts and north end 

• Size: 30 acres with a two-thirds mile trail

• lafayette.in.gov

Prophetstown State Park 

For thousands of years, Native Americans hunted and lived in the area near current-day Battle Ground where the Tippecanoe and Wabash rivers meet. Today, Prophetstown State Park, named for an indigenous village established in 1808 by Tecumseh, who was Shawnee, and his brother Tenskwatawa, who was called the Prophet, features 2,000 acres where park officials are restoring native landscapes. Nine miles of trails ranging from easy to moderate snake their way through the park, which also includes picnic areas, a campground and seasonal aquatic center. Trail No. 1 takes you through a former Christmas tree plantation of Douglas fir before winding its way through tallgrass prairie, a marsh and a field of wild cherry and Osage orange (hedge apple) trees. 

• Mapping address is 5545 Swisher Road, West Lafayette

• Gate fee: Noncommercial vehicles with Indiana license plates are $8, and with out-of-state plates, $10. Fee includes admission to the Farm at Prophetstown next door. 

• Restrooms: Comfort stations and vault toilets in several locations

• Parking: Several parking lots are available, including some near trailheads

• Size: 30 acres with 9 miles of trails

• lafayette.in.gov

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS

PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE PETKOV

Crown Point, Indiana, native Elizabeth Dimos was pursuing a career in front-of-the-house hospitality management. Andrew Whittaker, who hailed from a small town outside Canterbury, England, was passionate about the culinary arts.

When they met in 1999 during a graduate accounting class at Purdue University, the two discovered that while their career aspirations varied, they shared a common interest in serving others. Twenty years later, they opened the Whittaker Inn in West Lafayette. 

Tucked away on a wooded drive near State Road 43, the 25-acre property is equal parts boutique hotel and bed and breakfast, a suburban retreat just slightly down a road less traveled. As Andrew noted during the inn’s groundbreaking ceremony in 2019, “What’s not to love about this site? The Whittaker is just so secluded from everything, yet so close to Purdue University and downtown Lafayette.”

Seven years in the planning, the Whittaker Inn is now thriving as what the couple calls a “Midwestern oasis” and what reviewers have described on Facebook as “spacious, romantic and comfortable;” “top-notch” and “outstanding.” 

The root of their careers and relationship

After Elizabeth completed her bachelor’s degree and Andrew completed his master’s, both from Purdue’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, they each found jobs on the East Coast. Andrew worked in food and beverage finance in New York city properties, beginning with The Waldorf Astoria. Elizabeth started in front office management, then transitioned into revenue management for several different hotels and chains, including five years in Times Square properties.

While they both enjoyed successful careers, by 2012, they were ready for a change. The couple had a long talk about their future while staying at a B&B in Connecticut and decided they had strayed too far from the service side of the hospitality industry. 

When they dreamed up the idea of an inn, it was only natural that they return to the root of both their careers and their relationship: Greater Lafayette. 

After nearly a year of searching, the Whittakers discovered the wooded site where deer grazed and blue herons bred. Located near both I-65 and Purdue, it was an ideal location for football weekends, corporate retreats and romantic getaways. In 2018, they broke ground, and in May 2019, the red-roofed, yellow farmhouse-style inn opened for business. 

A family affair

Just as a travel-loving family furnishes its home with objects from around the world, the Whittakers have outfitted their establishment with 15 themed rooms and suites, each representing a city, region or country. Every continent except Antarctica is represented.

“Andrew and I have always had a great passion for travel and learning about different cultures and the perspective you gain while traveling,” Elizabeth says. “We chose the destinations for each of the rooms based on places we have been to, places we have family ties to, and places we would like to go to someday.” 

Instead of room numbers outside each door, small placards depict the flag of the room’s representative country. Inside, the theme carries through in furnishings and decor. In the Tuscany Room, named after the region of Italy known for its terra cotta villas and sunflower fields, the contemporary bed is adorned with a quilted sunflower-themed scarf made by Elizabeth’s mother. The flowers also sprout from wall art and from the crocheted blanket draped over a chair in the sitting room. The coffee table holds books about Vatican City and Tuscany, and a guest book invites visitors who have been to Italy to leave recommendations for future travelers. Above each nightstand is a pendant light made from Murano glass – the famed glassware that has been manufactured on a Venetian island for 1,500 years.

Similarly, the England Room features Andrew’s homeland, with a framed photo of Canterbury Cathedral and a red phone booth-styled floor statue, given to the couple by Andrew’s mom. Down the hall, looming over the Indiana-themed board room is a 500-plus pound table carved from Douglas fir into the state’s characteristic shape. Shadow boxes on the wall contain memorabilia from Elizabeth’s grandfather, P.L. Owens, the room’s namesake, who was a civil engineer, a Sagamore of the Wabash recipient and the first family member to graduate from Purdue University. 

The entire creation of the inn was a family affair. Along with many quilted pieces, Elizabeth’s mom crafted handmade soaps and crocheted washcloths for the bathrooms. She also bakes the cookies that overnight guests receive upon arrival. Elizabeth’s dad donated his pool table. Many of the Whittakers’ friends supplied original artwork. 

Despite these B&B touches, the inn looks like an upscale hotel, with a two-story gathering room and spa-like amenities such as plush bathrobes and rainfall showerheads. Elizabeth says that she and Andrew planned this juxtaposition of the comfortable and the chic from the beginning, borrowing the best elements from the various places they’ve stayed. Even the check-in is designed to evoke a feeling of comfort; instead of standing behind a desk, Elizabeth registers her guests with an electronic tablet. 

Globally inspired cuisine

Elizabeth’s dad came from Greece, and his ancestry is reflected not only in the Greece Room with its characteristic blue-and-white decor, but also in many of the recipes that chef Andrew cooks up in their kitchen. Among them: a mouth-watering white rice cooked in butter and chicken broth; a roasted fingerling potato salad lightly tossed with olive oil; and the rustic Greek Village Salad, a lettuce-free concoction of tomatoes, peppers, olives and feta. 

Other globally inspired dishes include beer-battered fish and chips, served with both tartar sauce and malt vinegar; and Mojito chicken, marinated in mint, rum, lime and sugar. Andrew incorporates locally sourced ingredients into dishes whenever possible. 

The house specialty is Andrew’s crab cakes. “He has spent several years perfecting the recipe, and it has become a fan favorite,” Elizabeth says. 

The Whittaker Kitchen is open for breakfast only to overnight guests, but to everyone for dinner on select evenings. The 690-square-foot dining room seats up to 50, with additional seating on the patio.

Adapting to changing market factors

Equipped with flat screen TVs and conference call capabilities, the inn can be rented out for corporate retreats, business gatherings and family reunions. The dining room itself can also be used for everything from 50th anniversary celebrations to a private English afternoon tea for 7-24 of your closest friends. Event space has been more limited, of course, during the pandemic. 

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Elizabeth says she and Andrew were fortunate that their inn opened nine months before the pandemic hit. In recent months, they have adapted their approach in response to changing market factors. 

When restaurants were closed by Indiana executive order, the couple put together a to-go menu. Pickups were still available in early September, even though the patio and dining room had both reopened. 

“Carryout literally and figuratively carried us through the pandemic shutdown. It has been very well received by the community, as they wanted a way to continue to support us and the Whittaker while travel was all but shut down except for essential travel,” Elizabeth says. “Andrew’s culinary offerings have always been a big draw to the inn.” 

BY CINDY GERLACH

Everyone loves eating out. Perhaps your ideal evening is sitting down to fine dining, with candles and linen napkins, a fine bottle of wine; maybe you like to be perched on a stool across from your favorite bartender, chatting with other regulars. Or maybe your idea of a fun night out is grabbing hamburgers or pizza with the kids. However you do it, it’s a treat to have someone else mix your drink or prepare your dinner and have it brought to your table, served with a friendly smile. 

And suddenly, in March, it all stopped. Under orders designed to help contain the spread of COVID-19, restaurants around the state were forced to close to dine-in customers, relegated only to carry-out. Restaurants quickly had to adapt and change. Now, as they slowly reopen their dining rooms to customers, what does that mean? What changes have they had to make? And what does the future look like? 

Bistro 501 

The popular restaurant on the corner of Main and Fifth streets in downtown Lafayette is not necessarily known for its carry-out menu, though it’s always been an option, says Theresa Buckley who, with sister, Cheyenne, and mother, Mary, owns and operates the restaurant. 

Most people, says Buckley, choose the Bistro for its atmosphere and service. But when forced to shut its doors, having done carry-out, they were quickly able to adapt.

“We had to adjust what we were offering so it would travel well,” she says. They focused on a menu with entrées that would look appetizing when people opened the box. 

Menu changes were made; staff members who had been servers were suddenly delivering meals — anything people could do to get hours. 

Flexibility has been important. In general, Buckley says, they try to be as green as possible and not order a lot of disposable products. But with the carry-out model, they had to change. And change again and again, as food shortages might mean ingredients were not available, or a particular carry-out box or bag was suddenly not available through their suppliers. 

They used the opportunity to unveil the Bistro Market, allowing customers to purchase specialty food items through the store, including dairy and eggs, bakery and breads, produce, butcher and fresh seafood, meal kits, pantry items (dried beans and pasta, deli items) and even household items such as hand sanitizer and paper products. It was an idea they’d been mulling, Buckley says, but with the shutdown, it seemed like an opportune time to try it. Yet it brought up its own issues, as many of the items purchased arrive in bulk, so plans had to be made for repackaging. 

Following a deep cleaning, when the restaurant reopened in June, Buckley had to oversee a number of changes in protocol. The restaurant created a safety promise to its customers and implemented some changes, including one door for entry and a separate door for exits; all restroom doors have foot openers. Customers must have reservations. Employees are screened for their health every day and will be wearing masks, even in the kitchen. Tables are six feet apart, and parties must be six or fewer. Water service will be different, and salt and pepper will not be on the table. 

Buckley is doing everything she can to keep the restaurant safe for both customers and her staff. She knows how much regulars miss sitting at the bar, but that reopening will have to wait until it’s approved. 

It’s an unpredictable time, says Buckley, as she juggles the already challenging job of day-to-day restaurant business with the extra hurdles of life during a pandemic. Like many people, she has had difficulty getting the proper personal protective equipment needed for her employees. And she is sensitive to the needs of people struggling with anxiety and depression during these difficult days. 

The restaurant’s bottom line has suffered, she says; with no Purdue graduation weekend or Mother’s Day brunch, Bistro lost business. With no downtown events, they know their revenues will be down. Ordinarily Bistro would have had its annual Lobster Bake and jazz Thursdays — sadly, not this year. 

“We have a high ratio of high-risk guests,” she says. “It’s a lot to manage, and we’re trying to do so super-respectfully of our staff. We’re not comfortable taking risks with others’ health.”

Folie

Across the street at Folie, Hallie Gorup and her husband, John, were monitoring the situation long before many locals, as John is a local physician and their daughter was studying in Italy last spring. They were tuned in to what was happening with the novel coronavirus; thus, even before the state mandated closures, the Gorups had decided to shut Folie’s doors for a time.

“We were paying more attention than the average person,” Hallie Gorup says. “We decided the respectful thing to do would be to shut down temporarily.”

Many of their staff members are Purdue students, so when the university closed, they left, meaning Folie did not have to deal with layoffs. 

As they pivoted to a take-out model, they dealt with many of the same issues Bistro did, as they tried to adapt a menu that is based on presentation, on a plate, to a box. The menu was scaled way back, and they used the opportunity to experiment with the menu; knowing that volume was down, if food items weren’t a big hit, they had not made quite the investment.

“It’s been a nice challenge for the chef,” Gorup says, as he would try out his creativity with different entrées. “Sometimes it was robust, sometimes it was nothing.” 

When restrictions were lifted to offer wine as a carryout option, that helped boost the bottom line as well, Gorup says. 

As the restaurant reopened, Gorup says the transition back was not too difficult.

“We were never a crowded restaurant,” she says. “And we have a small kitchen staff, which allows for better distancing.” 

Folie has made accommodations to meet the guidelines, which means no bar seating and not filling the restaurant. And while there is a lot more cleaning, Gorup points out that they were already meeting those sanitation standards anyway. Staff members were already washing their hands frequently, and the sanitizing was already happening. Now they’re just more cognizant. 

“Our biggest challenge is not being able to seat parties of six or larger,” she says. “But we’re more than happy to comply. You have to be a part of the solution.”

While the restaurant is not yet overflowing with business, they do have groups come in, pleased that there is someplace to go for a special celebration or an evening out. And they are weathering the storm. Summer has always been a slower time, and there is uncertainty about when large-scale entertaining will be back in full force.

“‘Recovery’ is a generous word right now,” Gorup says. “But I’m not complaining.”

Christos, The Bryant, Red Seven and Café Literato

For the Christos hospitality group, adding extra hygiene standards is just par for the course, says owner Manny Papadogiannis. 

“For us, all the pieces were there — washing hands for 20 seconds, sanitizing surfaces,” he says. “Those are all in the health department guidelines.”

The restaurants have merely upped the work they were already doing. They’ve added hooks to bathroom doors, enabling customers to open them using their wrists; employees are wearing facial coverings. 

Papadogiannis says they’re adhering to the county health department guidelines. But they are also tapping into other resources.  

Customers are encouraged to use apps for reservations or to get their names on a wait list — available through the restaurant websites. 

“Everybody has to step up their game,” he says. “You want to be safe wherever you go.”

Papadogiannis points out that, for all the worries about restaurants, they are much cleaner than other places. In a big box store, hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people go through each day. Restaurants have much lighter traffic and they are cleaning so much more often. 

“If you compare the number of staff and customers we have coming in, we can do that with that ratio,” he says. 

“It’s a little bit of an adjustment. But you do what you need to do to get through this. It’s going to take a while. It’s going to be a very long road for the restaurant industry.”

La Scala

La Scala used to be known for its farm-fresh food and Italian fare in its historic downtown Lafayette locale.

But that was before. It closed the doors on its dining room right before the shutdown. 

Owner Kirsten Serrano found herself reeling, trying to figure out what to do as the business she and her husband, Paco, opened 21 years ago was shuttered.

The couple’s first response was to found Community Comfort, a plan to feed the community — because, Serrano says, that’s what she does. With donations, they fed between 1,200 and 1,300 people in one week.

“It was a lot,” she says. They were working around the clock.

But what was next?

“I literally just sat with a pencil and paper one day, and thought, what can we do?” she says. “We have all these assets — a community kitchen, a farm, experience.”

And the answer came to her — not out of pessimism, but out of realism. Because she does not see herself reopening La Scala before the time feels rights. 

Hence, she developed Good to Go, a meal subscription service. It is modeled after many other meal-kit services, except with this one, it’s not just ingredients, but food that is chef-prepared, ready to serve. 

“Our stuff is cooked, it’s ready to go,” she says. “It’s farm-fresh food; we prepare it and deliver it to your door.”

Good to Go is delivered on Thursdays. Depending on your plan, you’ll get entrees, sides, dessert, and an extra surprise — local products, extra produce from the farm or promotions.

As the service grows, they’ll be able to bring back more of their employees. It’s satisfying, Serrano says. Because, after all, feeding people is what she does best. And this venture? It’s helping La Scala stay afloat.

“We’re building a model that can survive a pandemic.” 

Revolution Barbeque

Opening a new restaurant is challenging enough. If your grand opening was scheduled for March 2020? Well, it’s tough to open a new business when the entire country is shutting down. 

But Revolution Barbeque has simply rolled with the punches, says Debbie McGregor. They just turned the opening into more of a soft opening. 

“It didn’t stop us!” she says. 

McGregor runs the new restaurant — an off-shoot, if you will, of Revolution Bakery on Fifth Street — with her daughter, Sarah McGregor Ray (the creative force, her mother says) and her son, Jonathan. Her husband, Geoff, a contractor, has helped with the remodeling of the restaurant on Main Street. It’s a true family endeavor. 

The restaurant was already set up for fast-casual dining, says McGregor. So take-out food was easy enough to accommodate. 

Because they ended up rolling out their business a little slower than they had planned, it allowed them to defer some remodeling in the dining room. And when they did open, they had rearranged the space, removing some tables to factor in distancing requirements.

“Not many people are able to reconstruct their whole dining room,” McGregor says. 

Like all restaurants, they’ve paid attention to hygiene and sanitation standards. But of course, she says, they would have anyway.

“You are cleaning all the time; you’re always washing your hands,” she says. “We always wore gloves.” They just added a few extra steps, such as how they take items to and from the table. 

And, sadly, they had to put away the cute napkin holders they had purchased for the tables — they’ll have to make their debut at a later date. 

McGregor knows that for some people, dining out is still filled with some unease. But she is anxious to make everyone’s experience as painless as possible. For people worried about the exchange of cash or touching a screen to sign for a credit card transaction, she will meet people where they are, at their level of comfort. 

Customers who were already regulars at the bakery had been eagerly anticipating the opening of the new barbeque place, McGregor says. And they’ve all been very supportive. From a promotion through Greater Lafayette Commerce promoting purchasing of restaurant gift cards to generous tips from customers, McGregor has felt embraced by the city.

“It has been working,” she says. “We’ve had good support from the community.”

As restaurants work to keep their doors open, anxious to serve their customers, Gorup says she hopes people will stop and realize how vital these businesses are to the lifeblood of Lafayette.

“They live in the community and they’ve always been very giving. When people need donations, restaurants are on the front lines, the first asked,” Gorup says. “I do hope there is better recognition and support for the restaurant community.”

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS

Sporting stained concrete floors, exposed brick, glass-walled conference rooms, and a mixture of bar stools and table seating, MatchBOX Coworking Studio is, as its website says, a “coffee shop mashed up with an office park in an old garage.” It’s also a cross between an open office rental space, a maker studio and a business incubator, all designed to grow Greater Lafayette’s entrepreneurial economy.

Launched in 2014 in an old car repair shop west of downtown Lafayette’s Tippecanoe County Public Library, MBX boasts 11,000 square feet with reserved and open office spaces, conference rooms and a lot of support for its members, including training and networking opportunities. 

“MBX offers a pretty unique vibe and environment for our members,” says Amanda Findlay, MatchBOX managing director. “We also offer members access to the MBX Maker LAB, with laser cutters, 3D printers, and tools and kits for making, prototyping and small-scale manufacturing.”

MatchBOX has evolved over the last six years, says Jason Tennenhouse, executive director. “When we opened the doors, we didn’t know if anyone would come, so at the beginning we were just trying to cast a wide net and educate and survive — classic startup style,” Tennenhouse says. “We have been increasing our acceleration work and productivity steadily since then, and doing some pretty amazing things I think a lot of people don’t realize are happening in Lafayette.”

Making key connections

MBX may still be a best-kept secret among some locals, but not Kirsten Serrano, who co-owns La Scala Italian Restaurant in downtown Lafayette and joined the studio three years ago. “I needed to have a place where I could concentrate on finishing school – nutrition – and do some political advocacy work,” says Serrano, who was pursuing a degree from Bauman College at the time. 

As part of her internship, Serrano conducted a series of nutrition workshops in MatchBOX conference rooms. After graduation, she began seeing clients in the facility. Since then, her nutrition business, Small Wonder Food, has expanded beyond consultations. In 2018, she launched the Food Smarts podcast with local marketing strategist Amie Mullikin. In mid-2020, she published the book “Eat to Your Advantage.” 

MBX has been instrumental in that growth, Serrano says. 

“I have made many key connections at MatchBOX, from my podcast partner to my book publisher and even the person who built my new membership site. I have also attended many great workshops and learning events,” she says. “The staff is just incredible. Every one of them has inspired me or connected me in some way or another.”

A place for quirky misfits

Seasoned entrepreneur Mikel Berger says that MatchBOX is the kind of place that he wished had existed when he started his first company, DelMar Software Development. “I worked from home at first, and it felt like a big leap to sign a one-year or multi-year lease, especially when I occasionally needed another office,” says Berger, a co-founder of MBX. 

Berger’s latest project is Little Engine Ventures, a private investment partnership he started in 2016 with fellow MBX member Daryl Starr. 

Starr, the founder and former CEO of an agricultural company, joined the coworking studio before it officially opened. While Little Engine Ventures has a private office a few blocks away, both men retain memberships at MBX. 

“My membership at MatchBOX has secured several partnerships during the founding phase of Little Engine Ventures. As many members can attest, an invite to meet a prospective person at MatchBOX has a cool factor that makes working with a scrappy startup somewhat less crazy, and more fun,” he says. 

Starr describes MBX members as “quirky and great.” Berger echoes those thoughts, adding, “We at MatchBOX like to think of ourselves as the right kind of misfits. We’re like the junk drawer of economic development projects. Isn’t all the cool stuff that you don’t exactly know where to put in your junk drawer?”

Integrating into Greater Lafayette

Indianapolis transplant Polly Barks says that MatchBOX helped her integrate into Greater Lafayette when she moved here in 2017. Barks, who had launched the website PollyBarks.com while living in Indy, was in the early stages of developing a zero-waste education and consulting business. After taking a five-week course for new and pivoting entrepreneurs, she joined the studio. She now supplements her freelance income as part-time marketing manager for MBX. 

“Doing 100 percent freelance work meant I was constantly at home — too often that meant I was unfocused, and to be honest, probably watching YouTube videos. It was really nice to have a space so I could separate my work life from my home life,” Barks says. “I also really enjoyed the workshops since I could learn — for free — from other members or outside speakers.”

Two other newcomers to Lafayette, Tyler Knochel and Steven Sauder, participated in the first iteration of MBX’s Acceleration Program. Now, they use their MatchBOX membership for meeting with clients of their web development and digital strategy business, HustleFish. 

“The ability to meet with clients in a professional space instead of at a coffee shop or our living room — we wouldn’t do that — is invaluable to us. Beyond that, the community has been huge,” Knochel says. “We’ve been able to do better work thanks to MatchBOX, we’ve gotten new clients thanks to MatchBOX, we’ve clarified our business model thanks to MatchBOX, we’ve been more creative and had better ideas thanks to MatchBOX, we’ve drunk gallons and gallons of coffee thanks to MatchBOX. We have benefited from MatchBOX in so many ways, but ultimately the most important thing MatchBOX provides is community.” 

Supporting businesses in what’s next

Much like the Great Recession of 2008, which sparked the coworking movement in the United States, the first half of 2020 has already been a time of economic upheaval. Findlay notes that some MBX members have been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including restaurateurs and professionals who rely on in-person instruction. To respond, MatchBOX staff have added educational programs on concepts such as pivoting and product expansion.

They’ve also shifted to online instructional models. In early March, when cities and states began issuing stay-at-home orders, MBX staff decided to take their Entrepreneur Development Acceleration program online and open applications to participants across the state. The program yielded a record number of applicants, which Findlay attributes to layoffs, furloughs and uncertainty in the job market. The 12-week Venture Development summer acceleration program also was offered online this year.

“Times of crisis and uncertainty are ripe for innovation. When 9 to 5 jobs are threatened by furloughs, or the future of certain industries are unknown, or consumer behaviors shift significantly, people tend to embrace their entrepreneurial ideas or freelancing talents a bit more,” Findlay says. 

“Greater Lafayette will need coworking communities, workshops and acceleration programming now more than ever. Small businesses will need community support, new founders will need guidance. I think MatchBOX is positioned to be a valuable resource for our members and our community businesses as we move forward. We’re really focused on being there for them, for supporting them in what’s next.”

BY KEN THOMPSON

Decades after his parents lived in Married Student Housing while attending Purdue University, Rich Michal is playing a role in a “once in a century” project that will turn the complex into a memory.

Michal, vice president of the Purdue Research Foundation, is excited to talk about Provenance, part of the $1.2 billion, long-term Discovery Park District project that will transform the west side of campus with the creation of a walkable urban neighborhood. 

Provenance is the latest offshoot of the State Street Project, a combined effort of Purdue and the city of West Lafayette. The $120 million project has, during the past four years, changed traffic patterns from the Wabash River, through downtown West Lafayette and Purdue University out to U.S. 231. Purdue President Mitch Daniels saw an opportunity for the Discovery Park District to take advantage of the State Street work to find industry that would be a good fit with the university’s strengths and then 

build housing and amenities for those workers.

“The original genesis was to help finance and help pay for that State Street investment but the bigger picture is this is an opportunity to attract the best student minds and faculty and to retain some of those,” Michal says. ”We’ve got 40,000 students a year, and the majority of those are gradually moving elsewhere. We want to give them a reason to stay in West Lafayette. It’s about providing that live, work, learn, play opportunity.

“Saab and Schweitzer (Engineering Laboratory) love the fact we’re going to have those homes right there where folks can ride their bikes to work in addition to all the educational, cultural and athletic opportunities the university provides.”

Old Town Design Group of Carmel has come up with a plan that will feature a combination of 500 single-family detached homes, townhomes and apartments. Justin Moffett, a partner of Old Town, says the design will hearken back to early 1900s homes with the majority of home lots having garage access through alleys. That eliminates front driveways and enhances the walkability of the neighborhood.

“They’ve done similar projects in midtown Carmel and we loved their product,” Michal says. “They are more of a traditional looking craftsman-style home. They do the front porches and the alley-loaded garages. We felt like their semi-custom product was more appealing and more original.”

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Old Town’s construction plans remain on schedule to begin this summer according to Erin Easter, director of development for the city of West Lafayette. Old Town hopes to have a model home ready by February and begin selling lots this fall.

“This is the first new neighborhood in the city limits in quite some time,” Easter says. “PRF, the city and the university worked closely on the design aesthetic for the neighborhood.”

Provenance is targeting an upscale clientele with single-family homes starting in the low $400,000 range, and townhomes starting at $350,000. By spring 2021, the first families will be able to move into two- and three-story townhomes that will have a private outdoor living area and a two-car garage.

Single family detached homes will be available this spring as well, ranging in size from 1,600 to 3,536 square feet. These semi-custom homes will have the option of master bedrooms upstairs and downstairs, as well as ranch design.

By summer 2021, Old Town anticipates the completion of 142 apartments spread out over four buildings. The following year, 108 more units will be available over five buildings. Studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units will be available.

That won’t be all of the change coming to the west side of campus.

“Between the Aerospace District and Discovery Park District, we anticipate a lot of growth in the southwest side of the city,” Easter says. “Businesses typically follow residents, so once we have a residential base, you will start to see other amenities popping up in the area,” Easter says. 

Michal hopes those amenities include health care and a large grocery store, which could lead to the end of another long-standing complex.

“What I’m hoping is two things: one, work with the university to put in a micro-hospital or health care facility,” he says. “The other thing … we’d love to get a 20-30,000-square-foot grocery right there off the corner of State and McCormick. With Purdue and access to students, plus 500 rooftops, we think our chances of landing a grocery will increase substantially.

“Purdue West has been a great facility. It was a great complex and it’s helped us generate a lot of revenue over its lifetime. But it’s old, tired and there may be a better use of the land there. We’d love to have a health care facility there and right across the street, just south of Hort Park, have a grocery and some retail. And all of that will help us attract more students, staff, faculty and corporations.”

Saab, which will be manufacturing military training aircraft, is the latest corporation to buy into the long-term vision. It won’t be the last in Purdue’s effort to retain its best and brightest.

“There are folks working right now with the PRF and the university to try to attract similar businesses to Saab, aerospace and aviation companies,” Michal says. “We’ve got a great partnership with Rolls Royce. We’re also trying to re-establish a commercial service with the airport. We’re hopeful on that.

“We’re trying to help promote and support the university as it changes the world through its faculty, students and technology. We’re attracting corporations here to help them in recruiting our students and tapping into our research institutions. We want them to come here, establish roots and plant a flag on campus.”

Years from now, Michal envisions Provenance being a desirable place to live like another West Lafayette neighborhood.

“Look at Hills and Dales and how beautiful a neighborhood that is,” Michal says. “Something like that.” 

BY KEN THOMPSON

In any other year, one of the joys of summertime is an ice cream cone after a ballgame or a day at the park.

But 2020 hasn’t been any other year. Fortunately for Greater Lafayette, two ice cream institutions and a relative newcomer are open for business. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted Silver Dipper more than the Original Frozen Custard and Budge’s, which unlike Silver Dipper, are seasonal businesses.

David Carlson, whose family opened the first of two Silver Dipper stores in 2001, lost about a month of business.

“In mid-March we decided to close out of an abundance of caution,” Carlson says.  “We sold our existing inventory to other small independent ice cream shops in Indiana.  By mid-April our supplier was ramping up production again and we decided to reopen.”

Silver Dipper, which has locations at 201 E. State St. and 307 Sagamore Parkway West, has strictly followed guidelines from the Tippecanoe County Health Department regarding cleaning, masks and social distancing.   

“The reopening has gone well,” Carlson says. “Since we began accepting credit cards in 2016, we were already set up to provide contactless payment options.  We also created an online store thru silverdipper.com, where customers can order and pay online, then pick up their order through carryout or curbside.”

The Carlson family spent years working in Chicago and commuting from northwest Indiana, all with a goal of buying a business in central Indiana. The Carlsons purchased the Baskin Robbins store at Purdue West in 2000, believing the presence of Purdue University and Tippecanoe County’s diversified economy was a good business risk.

A year later, the Carlsons broke away from Baskin Robbins and opened the Silver Dipper location on Sagamore Parkway. Two years later, the Levee store followed.

“We decided to go independent in order to have more control over product quality, pricing and equipment,” Carlson says. 

“We consider the Sagamore Parkway store to be our ‘family store’ and the Levee to be the ‘campus store.’ But we see a lot of families and Lafayette customers at our Levee location too.  Plus being the largest city in the county we see customers from all over the area.”

One of Silver Dipper’s trademarks is a variety of flavors, approximately 40 year-round flavors which are available on the website.

“We try to keep a variety to appeal to everyone, but it is customer demand that determines which flavors we carry,” Carlson says. “We also carry ‘no sugar added’ options as well as Italian ices, which are non-dairy and non-fat.”

When asked to list Silver Dipper’s best-selling flavors, Carlson names Zanzibar, Oreo, Cookie Dough, Zoreo (Zanzibar and Oreo mixed together) and Peanut Butter Cookie Dough.

Only Zanzibar made the lengthy list of Carlson family favorites, which include Toffee Chocolate Chip, This S&@! Just Got Serious, Chocolate Cherry Bomb, Coconut Almond Bliss and Pistachio.

Carlson and his family are grateful that not only have customers returned to buy ice cream but also merchandise such as Silver Dipper themed T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, cups and stickers.

“Lately, we have seen customers purchase them as a way to support their favorite local businesses during this difficult time,” he says.

“We have been touched by the amount of support and concern for our business.  We have loved being a part of the community the past 20 years and look forward to many more years serving our customers.”

When it comes to years of serving Greater Lafayette customers, few local businesses can approach the many decades that the Original Frozen Custard and Budge’s have been open.

The Original Frozen Custard had a humble beginning in 1932, when Florence and Charles Kirkhoff began selling vanilla frozen custard from a stand next to Columbian Park. A year later, the Kirkhoffs’ secret recipe was expanded to include chocolate and strawberry frozen custard.

The Kirkhoffs had to use salt to freeze their frozen custard because modern refrigeration and freezers were not yet available. While the recipe remains a secret to this day, we do know that frozen custard contains 4 percent egg yolk and a fraction of the whipped air contained in regular ice cream.

Another Frozen Custard tradition, the fruit drink, was created because Florence Kirkhoff didn’t care for soda pop. Charles Kirkhoff’s business sense, though, led to a deal with Coca-Cola in 1934. The Original Frozen Custard remains one of Coca-Cola’s oldest accounts.

The iconic art deco building was constructed in 1949 across from what is now Loeb Stadium. Twenty years later, the Kirkhoffs passed the business to their daughter, Charlene, and her husband, Dick Lodde. They expanded the menu to offer more products, flavors and food. 

The Kirkhoffs originally called their business “The Igloo,” a name that was revived in 1998 by Bill and Kathy Lodde. The two Igloo locations on Veterans Memorial Parkway have expanded the line of Frozen Custard flavors, added more sundaes and sandwiches, including an old favorite: the Original Double Decker.

Budge’s (pronounced bud-gees) bills itself as “Lafayette’s best kept secret since 1942.” 

Like the Original Frozen Custard, Budge’s had a simple beginning when Wallace Budge converted a gas station on the corner of 14th and Hartford streets into a root beer stand.

The original stand was razed in the 1950s and the current structure was built facing 14th Street. It was then that Budge’s added ice cream, burgers and other treats to the menu.

That helped Budge’s draw lunchtime business from nearby St. Elizabeth Hospital and after- school lines from Linnwood Elementary students. Budge ran the business until he sold out in 1968.

The years have passed, and St. Elizabeth is no longer in the neighborhood. Neither is Linnwood Elementary School. But Budge’s is still around and approaching its 80th birthday.

Its menu probably wouldn’t be recognized by Charles Budge today, with flavored drinks, a wide variety of ice cream, shakes, parfaits, sodas and sundaes. Food options range from the traditional cheeseburger to chicken tenders and coney dogs.

BY CINDY GERLACH

If you think downtown Lafayette is looking picturesque these days, then you’ve been watching its evolution. Over the past decades, while the downtown had its share of charm, sidewalks were looking as if they needed an update, a little tweaking to enhance the ambience. 

Rejuvenating Main Street, a streetscaping program that has been underway for more than 15 years, continues this summer, improving sidewalks, adding gathering places downtown and planting trees.

It’s a beautification project that not only makes the downtown scene more attractive, but it is a boon to business as well. 

Plans for this project date back as far as the late 1970s, says Dennis Carson, economic development director for the City of Lafayette. Funding was made available in the mid-2000s; the first phase of the plan was rolled out in 2005.

So why the need to change the look of downtown? For decades, when people lived and worked near the downtown, it was the major shopping and business center, with retail shops lining the streets, anchored by the Courthouse, with restaurants and movie theaters. It was the shopping and business district. 

The feel of downtown Lafayette began to shift and change in the 1960s and ’70s, as it did in downtowns throughout the United States. With widespread use of the automobile and people moving farther away from the city center into more suburban neighborhoods, a shift occurred. By the 1980s, many businesses had fled to Market Square or the Tippecanoe Mall; single-screen movie theaters — places like the Long Center and the old Mars Theatre — had been abandoned in favor of larger multiplexes. 

Downtowns were in danger. 

But, Carson says, Lafayette’s downtown fared much better than those of other, similar-sized cities.

“Fortunately, even in that time, there was a lot of interest in downtown,” he says. Along with the Courthouse, many law firms and banks remained, as well as the newspaper and other government offices.

So the city took the lead, focusing on historic preservation. Much of the downtown consisted of buildings dating back to the first half of the 20th century, and the city wanted to preserve that architecture, knowing its value. 

“One of the early efforts was historic preservation, to establish the historic district,” says Carson. “They really tried to preserve the architecture we have. We lost some, too, but we’ve been able to preserve a lot.”

But the need went beyond historic preservation and into safety. The sidewalks were so old that many had the WPA stamps, dating them back to the 1930s.

“It got to a point where not only did we need to do it for aesthetics, but there were several safety and ADA issues,” Carson says. 

Thus the streetscape plan for downtown was meant to enhance the district on several fronts.  Clearly, part of the goal was simply to beautify downtown. Sidewalks have been widened, and the corners are larger, with benches added, making it easier for people to gather. 

And with wider sidewalks, downtown restaurants were able to take advantage and add more outdoor dining space. 

Bike racks encourage people to use other methods of transportation. And public art installations add visual interest.

If you’ve walked through downtown, you’ve seen the improvements. These all make downtown more accessible to people with a specific destination or those who just want to walk and browse, soaking up the small-town yet big-city aesthetic. 

“One thing we really want to improve on is the pedestrian experience,” Carson says. “So they don’t park, go into the shop, then get in their car and leave. We want to encourage people to walk the downtown as much as possible.” 

For summer 2020, the project expands to upper Main Street, between 10th and 11th streets. Both sides of 10th Street, from Main north to Ferry, will see the widened sidewalks, striping and tree installation. The next phase will see the same improvements on the south side of Main Street between 10th and 11th, as well as 11th Street between Main and Ferry. The final phase, wrapping up at the end of September, will take the project south on both sides of 10th Street to Columbia. 

The project is paid for through Tax Increment Financing, or TIF districts. Business owners have been asked to contribute to a portion of the project in front of their buildings. 

“There was a little apprehension at first,” Carson says. “But once it was done, everyone was really pleased.”

The energy and enthusiasm associated with downtown has increased over the past few years, with urban living opportunities and more retail and restaurants than ever, says Carson. 

Over time, that value will continue to increase. With the variety of arts and culture opportunities, the festivals, and more shopping and dining 

options, people will continue to see and enjoy the revitalization of the streetscape project. 

“It’s really transformed Main Street,” Carson says. “We’ve gotten a lot of comments; it’s been pretty well received. Over time we’ll see increased property values. It helps, helps maintain these historic structures. It’s been a fun thing and it’s been well received.”

For details on the project, visit lafayettedowntownisopen.com.

While there are about 20 dog grooming businesses in the area, some newer ones focus on strengthening the human/animal bond or providing services such as doggy day care and spa experiences. 

Paul Whitehurst, owner of Pooch Palace Resort, had an epiphany in 2016 when his beloved German shepherd Zoey passed away.

“She was my kid. She was everything to me,” says Whitehurst. “When she passed away … I was at a crossroads. For a long time I’d had this idea in my head to provide an upscale pet resort. I wanted to target other owners who are true pet parents.”

After 18 years in the corporate world, Whitehurst decided to pursue his dream,  and in 2017 on the first anniversary of Zoey’s passing, he opened the first Pooch Palace Resort on Beck Lane in Lafayette. The business was so successful that in February he opened a second location on Sagamore Parkway in West Lafayette. While ruefully acknowledging that opening a new business during a pandemic is not the best idea, Whitehurst says many customers are grateful that the waiting lists for grooming and boarding are shorter. 

Pooch Palace offers grooming, boarding, daycare and training. Dogs boarded there stay in private “hotel” rooms equipped with toddler beds and a television tuned to DogTV. The dogs get five potty breaks each day and absent owners can check in on, and even talk to, their pets through a private Webcam accessed through their phones. 

The business also offers grooming and full or half-day care where dogs play in groups either indoors or out. The outdoor play park features a synthetic turf called Pup-Grass specifically designed for dogs. That means your pet will never come home muddy, Whitehurst says.

The business closed for a while as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up, but it reopened with limited hours and services in April, and then more fully in May. Whitehurst hopes to be back to full capacity by August.

He affirms that one of the reasons his business has been so successful is pet owners are more invested in their furry friends than ever before. But a disruptive family member can bring chaos and tension into a home, so training and understanding is key to living harmoniously with a pet.

That’s where Julie Shaw and her business, Stepping Stone Animal Training, comes in. Shaw has spent her professional career focusing on animal behavior and is one of only 16 board-certified veterinary behavior technicians in the country. After spending many years in private practice and teaching Purdue vet students, Shaw became convinced that dog owners needed help understanding their pet’s behavior and learning how to work with the animal.

“Animal behavior is very complex,” Shaw says. “If owners get the information (they need) early on, it makes a big difference. We are not just treating the dog, but helping the owner understand the world through the dog’s eyes.”

Stepping Stone, located on Teal Road in Lafayette, is dedicated to strengthening and protecting the human-animal bond. To that end, the business offers programs lasting between four and  eight weeks for puppies and older dogs. Puppy classes focus on training the littlest fur balls to be calm, happy and emotionally healthy pets. Small class sizes and academy-educated trainers also help older dogs that need to learn socialization skills and manners.

“All dogs have their own quirkiness and individual challenges,” says Shaw. “We encourage what is positive in them and help identify what behaviors they need to work on.”

Shaw emphasizes that the programs are not daycare, but provide a very structured environment in which the dogs are always learning, while still being allowed to be dogs. 

Lafayette resident Diana Cavanaugh took her Bernese mountain dog, Jojo, to Stepping Stone in 2017, when the puppy was about three months old. The experience was a good one for the entire family and helped them work together and be consistent with Jojo’s training.

“It was great because we were able to get the entire family involved and everyone was on the same page when it came to training,” Cavanaugh says. “The team that worked with us was very knowledgeable and patient.”

While some of Stepping Stone’s services have been curtailed because of the pandemic, the company’s virtual services have taken off, Shaw says. She offers group, puppy and adult classes online that include videos, reading assignments and virtual check-ins each week. 

Shaw is concerned about the many families that have adopted dogs during the pandemic and been home with little structure or opportunity for the pet to be in different situations.  When school and regular work schedules resume and the house is empty, those dogs will likely have problems, she says, adding that puppies need to be socialized in their first eight to 14 weeks. In the spring, Stepping Stone began hosting pandemic puppy parties for dogs 16-weeks and younger. Once a week, the pups come to Stepping Stone for supervised play and interaction with new people and other puppies. Owners can watch the fun on their phones.

Shaw takes an holistic approach to each dog’s welfare, assessing both the animal’s physical and mental health. Some dogs have chemical imbalances in their brains and need medication, so understanding each dog’s behavior is critical, she says.

That holistic approach also informs grooming at Stepping Stone. Shaw calls the service fear-free grooming, and dogs are trained to cooperate with the groomer so that the experience is less stressful. For example, dogs are allowed to jump off the grooming table and come back when they’re ready. Each one receives a report card with suggestions for the owner of behaviors to work on.

“We are the first in the country to offer this,” she says. “You pay more because we are using behavior modification. Pain can be a factor in grooming so we are constantly grading them on their emotional and physical health.”

And another local business is training groomers in Shaw’s methods. Kerri Wagner, owner of Bark Avenue Day Spa on Britt Farm Road in Lafayette, and her staff of five worked with Stepping Stone to better understand animal behavior.

“(All dogs) teach us something,” Wagner says. “I believe all of the dogs that are scared and unable to be groomed … have taught us that dogs really do learn and react to everything so differently than us. Stepping Stone Animal Training has really helped us learn this and is teaching us how to help all the animals with their behavior.”

Bark Avenue groomers don’t usually cage dogs coming in for a bath and a haircut. Open-top kennels are used if necessary; otherwise dogs are together in the grooming room. And if Bark Avenue can’t effectively help a dog that comes in, Wagner sends that dog to a Stepping Stone groomer who helps with behavior modification.

And the word “spa” in the company name is not hyperbole. Pet parents can choose for their furry family member a variety of luxury experiences, including mud baths, blueberry facials with a mini face massage and hot oil treatments. If you live in Lafayette or West Lafayette, a groomer also will pick up your pooch from home and bring the freshly coiffed critter back at the end of the work day.

Good training and behavior bring many positives to dogs and owners alike, but some dog owners face the additional challenge of not having a fenced yard or much time for long walks. For those with high-energy animals, a trip to a dog park may be a real treat.

Dog parks give owners the chance to exercise their dogs and provide socialization with other pets and their humans, says Tracy Walder, director of operations for the Dog Park Association of Greater Lafayette. The non-profit oversees Shamrock Dog Park on Sanford Street near Lafayette’s Wabash River. The facility is supported by the Lafayette Parks Department.

“Shamrock Dog Park provides a secure off-leash area for dogs to interact and release energy,” says Walder.  “Poor dog behavior is often a result of poor socialization and pent-up energy. The dog park helps owners satisfy the needs of their dogs. A tired dog is a well-behaved dog.”

The facility requires a paid membership and has an extensive list of regulations designed to keep dogs and their owners safe and happy. Dogs must be healthy and up-to-date with vaccinations. Members receive a key fob that allows them into the park.

Shamrock Dog Park enjoys good support from some local veterinarians, who help with fund-raising events and provide information about vaccinations and health issues. Two vets write monthly articles for the member Facebook page and volunteer during special events, Walder says. The volunteer board also appreciates the working relationship they have with Buckles Feed Depot and Pet Supplies Plus, Lafayette companies that support the park’s work.

Walder, who owns CritterSitters (an in-home pet care service) and is a founding member of the park, says overall the members are a close-knit community, working to make their relationships with their dogs a healthy part of their lives. 

“Most people are a little apprehensive about the first time letting their dog off leash in the park, and it is rewarding to see other members assure them that it will be just fine,” she says. “Our members find that their dogs are aware when they are headed to the park and are happy to interact with other dogs. People can socialize over a shared interest and also have a sounding board when there are questions about behavior, health, veterinarian or daycare choices.”

Sarah Huber has been going to the park since she moved to Lafayette in 2016 with her dog Hazel. Hazel has since passed away, but now Sarah goes almost every day with her goldendoodles, Juniper and Ike. 

“I look forward to going to the dog park as much as my dogs!” Huber says. “Walking them on leashes, even long walks, doesn’t tire them out. They are running and playing the entire time (at the park) and it brings me such joy to see them both run in big circles across the field and play with other dogs. They just seem the happiest and their best selves at the park. Both can barely contain themselves as we pull up to the park each day.”

And there are other perks. Huber wanted her pets to be comfortable around other dogs and people, so the park gives opportunities for Ike and Juniper to have new experiences. She’s made friends there and says going is a great way to either start the day or decompress after work. 

“I am as happy as the dogs,” she says. “The members are great. When you go, there’s no pressure to talk to people. You can do your own thing, but if you want to chat, it’s a great group of people.”

Huber’s advice to a pet parent who has never used a dog park is to evaluate your own pet’s behavior and take it slow. If you don’t know how your dog might react to other dogs off leash, first try one of the fields that don’t have many dogs. There are fenced areas for big and small dogs, and the park offers a day pass and occasional free play days. Those dates and other information about rules and requirements can be found on the park’s website.

The park closed for more than eight weeks when the pandemic hit, but it opened again toward the end of May. To help ensure safety, communal toys and water containers have been removed and soap has been added at the water stations. Members are asked to abide by social distancing rules, wear masks and bring their own hand sanitizer.

BY ANGELA K. ROBERTS

Street food in the United States dates back to the late 17th century, when vendors in East Coast cities began selling meals from carts and street kitchens. In the ensuing 300-plus years, food-truck offerings have grown from 19th century chuckwagons to 20th century ice cream trucks and hot dog carts and now to 21st century gourmet restaurants on wheels. 

Today, in towns like Greater Lafayette, a growing number of food trucks can satisfy all but the pickiest of eaters. Here, we feature six vendors along with a more comprehensive list for your culinary journey. Check each website for details.

EMT Food Truck

emtfoodtruck.com

Amber Davis grew up during what she calls the “quick food era, where most of what we consumed involved cans of cream of … boxes or jars of … frozen microwaveable things … powdery mixes of who knows what.” Thankfully, she learned where food really came from by picking vegetables and collecting eggs at her grandmother’s rural home. Now, since 2012, Davis’ EMT (Emergency Munchie Technicians) Food Truck has tended to locals’ homegrown food needs with gourmet vegetarian and vegan menu items, including salads, waffle sandwiches and lemonades crafted from homemade simple syrup and fresh pureed fruit. If you want to kick it up a notch, try the Mac Nugget Poppers, dusted in panko crumbs and fried. “I think mac and cheese is something everyone can get down with,” Davis says. Some menu items are gluten-free. Visit the truck at the West Lafayette Farmers Market, Brokerage Brewing Company and various Greater Lafayette neighborhoods.

Famous Frank’s

facebook.com/famousfranksPU

On most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights during Purdue University’s academic year, around the corner from the line at Harry’s Chocolate Shop, you’ll find hungry college students waiting to feast on triple-layered grilled cheese, wonton wraps and other fried goodies that pair well with beer. Begun in 1995 as a push-cart business, Famous Frank’s first sold hot dogs, Polish sausages and Bratwurst outside the original Von’s Comic Book Shop. By 2005, owner Frank Farmer had acquired his first food truck, equipped with a fryer for expanding his offerings. Later, while cooking for hungry college men at a local fraternity, Farmer created his own version of Fat Sandwiches, which he describes as “some sort of concoction of mozzarella sticks, fries, steak and sauces all on a hoagie.” For people wanting a gluten-free and vegan option, Frank’s sells falafel wraps from a local restaurant.

The Guac Box

facebook.com/guacbox765  |  wherestheguac.com

Avocadoes seem to be one of those foods that you either love or hate. But even if you’re firmly entrenched in the latter group, you should find plenty to savor at the Guac Box. It’s owned by chef Matt Bestich, who tested his recipes at a Purdue fraternity before purchasing a truck “fully loaded and ready to go” in 2018. Bestich’s truck specializes in modern Tex-Mex tacos named after friends and family, including the Kelly, a taco with creamy queso and crispy shoestring potatoes, and the Nick, with street corn, cotija cheese and guac. All tacos can be made gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan; the chips – which you can get with hand-smashed guacamole – are made from gluten-free corn tortillas. Currently, the truck parks regularly at Brokerage Brewing Company and has been visiting local neighborhoods during the pandemic. “Food trucks are the original curbside service,” Bestich says. 

Gypsy Joe Coffee Shop

facebook.com/gypsyjoecoffeeshop  |  instagram.com/gypsyjoecoffeeshop

Working in a coffee shop years ago, Ashley Huff dreamed of opening up her own place where she could serve brewed drinks with a side of positivity. In 2019, when a deal fell through on a building she had her eye on, Huff decided to take her idea mobile. The aptly named Gypsy Joe Coffee Shop sells brewed coffee, lattes, chai tea, lemonade and freshly brewed iced tea. Sugar-free syrups and non-dairy milks such as soy and almond also are available. Unlike most coffeehouse social media accounts, Huff doesn’t post much about coffee at all, preferring instead to infuse her followers’ feeds with words and photos of affirmation. “You will find daily posts from my heart, so if I can’t reach you with coffee, I hope at least that starts your day off right,” she says. For some joe to go, visit her regularly on State Road 43 just outside Battle Ground.

Puritan Coney Island Express 

facebook.com/puritanconeyislandexpress

Gary Dowell has loved coney dogs since he was a child. Back then, while riding shotgun in his dad’s fuel truck, Dowell would disembark downtown at Lou’s Puritan Coney Island to pick up lunch while his father drove around the block. Later, when he was working at a local gravel pit, Dowell spent his winter months helping out at Main Street Coney, which had acquired the Puritan recipe. When that establishment closed, the owner gave Dowell the recipe for the savory sauce made of hamburger and several spices, which he used to open a food truck business in 2019. A café at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana followed in 2020. While coney dogs made with the 75-year-old recipe are still a specialty, nacho supremes are the number one seller. Customers needing a gluten-friendly option can ask for a hot dog without the bun. 

RTB Chefs

facebook.com/rtbfoodtruck  |  rtbchefs.com

Mac and cheese with pulled pork or brisket? Why not. For smoked-meat foodies – especially those who like to wash down their meals with a pint of local beer – RTB Chefs routinely parks next to Brokerage Brewing Company, selling sandwiches, wraps and salads, most with smoked meat. Owned and operated by Jordan and Krissy Mirick, the business, which launched three years ago, grew out of a catering company in Illinois. “Chef Jordan has worked in a variety of restaurants from high-end fine dining to a local bar and grill,” the couple says. “We always enjoyed creating food to bring people together.” The truck, which also can be found at Murphy’s USA gas station on Veterans Memorial Parkway, has some vegan and vegetarian options. The meats are gluten-free without barbeque sauce. 

Looking for more variety?

Here are some other food trucks in the area:

WoJo’s & MoJo’s Grilled Cheese & More, LLC: facebook.com/WoJo-MoJos-Grilled-Cheese-More

By ANGELA K. ROBERTS 

STADIUM PHOTO PROVIDED BY PURDUE MARKETING & MEDIA

OTHER PHOTOS PROVIDED BY PURDUE ARCHIVES

In 1922, David Edward Ross, engineer, businessman and noted Purdue University alumnus, asked Tippecanoe County Judge Henry Vinton to introduce him to another Purdue graduate of note —playwright and syndicated newspaper columnist George Ade, five years his senior. 

After meeting in the judge’s chambers, Ross asked Ade to take a short drive with him. Parking at an old dairy farm northwest of Purdue’s tiny campus, they climbed uphill, then peered down into a vast natural bowl carved into the landscape. 

Then, as Robert Kriebel writes in “Ross-Ade: Their Purdue Stories, Stadium and Legacies,” the engineer gave a pitch something like this:

“’Here is where we [Trustees] will put our recreational field and stadium. You’ll notice that much of the work of grading and providing a hillside of just the right slope for a stadium grandstand has already been done [by Nature]. It’s about the same size as the ancient stadium of Athens. I had a man look up the dimensions. There isn’t much difference.’”

Ade nodded in agreement, Kriebel notes, saying it did indeed seem to be about the same size as the Panathenaic Stadium, which Ade had visited in 1898. But, he wondered, what did this have to do with him? 

Ross said that he hoped Ade would help him finance a stadium for the university, to which Ade responded that he’d tried to promote several projects at Purdue, but had never had much luck. He concluded, “‘To help someone else would be a great relief. So my answer is yes.’”

Ade’s words were his stock in trade, and yet it was the soft-spoken engineer who persuaded him that day. And it was Ross who convinced alumni to give half a million dolla