I was headed down Broadway on July 19 when I saw a lot of rubble where the back half of the building at 2418-2426 Broadway that houses Broadway Aquatics used to be. It took some puzzling before my husband told me that the torn-down half at 2418 was where the former Zoli’s Family Restaurant & Lounge used to be. Zoli’s was where you could get Hungarian goulash and an old ad online lists chicken paprika, cabbage rolls and homemade ravioli. Hungarian native Zoltan Herman Sr., who died in 2003, owned the restaurant for 42 years. It’s one of those longtime restaurants that was just always there. Now it’s gone, but I’m sure many longtime residents have their memories of time spent there.

Broadway Aquatics owner Brian Sharp bought the building in 2003 as a sort of retirement income property.

“We’re demoing it and going to plant grass there,” Sharp said. “...It’s cheaper to tear it down than to fix it up.”

The building is two former houses and needed a lot of work, but Sharp plans to fix the roof and heating and air units in the remaining part of the building that houses his business. He was contacted by the man who created the large stained-glass windows that had been in Zoli’s. One window remains in the wall of Sharp’s business; the other, because he believes it might be worth thousands of dollars, he plans to sell.

As for the future, Sharp has his eye on what’s happening at Electric Works, the mixed-used project underway at the nearby former General Electric Broadway complex, and would be open to a possible buyer for his building.

“I’ve got a lot of land here,” he said.

Pizza Hut Southgate going serverless

The Pizza Hut in Fort Wayne’s Southgate Plaza is undergoing major renovations, but it’s still open for carryout orders.

The restaurant, a decades-old gathering place after football games and shopping trips, is undergoing a complete renovation of the exterior and changes inside as well. It will get the updated look of the West State Boulevard Fort Wayne and Decatur stores, said Austin Freeland, assistant manager, and a grandson of Dick Freeland, the late operator of the Fort Wayne Pizza Hut franchise.

It’s doing away with the buffet and salad bar; it will have a few tables and chairs inside, but it won’t have servers, Austin Freeland said. Customers will order at a counter and then can eat inside or take out their orders. The only menu change will be the elimination of spaghetti. It’s also getting two new bathrooms. It won’t be losing any staff and will only have about a 100-square-foot difference in the final size of the restaurant.

The renovation should be completed by September, Freeland said.

Clean sign for Canton Laundry

The worn sign of the former Canton Laundry at 1014 Broadway, Fort Wayne, has returned. The new sign, with fresh neon, now hangs on the revitalized historic business block.

In 2010, ARCH Fort Wayne bought two Italianate commercial buildings from around 1890 at 1014 and 1016 Broadway and worked with neighbor St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church to get them rehabilitated. In 2016, Julie Wall of Hedgehog Press bought the building and now sells a lot of nature-themed artwork there as the Hedge.

It’s good to see a piece of Fort Wayne commercial history preserved.

Lisa Esquivel Long is a veteran Fort Wayne journalist and Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly editor. To submit items, send email to llong@kpcmedia.com or call 260-426-2640. ext. 3311.

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