It looks like the former Jack & Johnny’s will be reopening, but as Purple Mountain Cheesecakes and Desserts.

Two years ago I spoke with Christina Mills and her husband, Jeff Witcher, about their plans to reopen the restaurant and bar with some of the old favorites, including the chisam chicken made with chicken, Swiss cheese and ham on a bun. However, lots of things piled up on the couple, including flooding in the basement that ruined drywall.

So I’ve been watching to see when things might be close when I spotted a huge purple sign in the window at 1137 N. Wells St.

That sign belongs to Glenn Ellenberger, owner of Purple Mountain Cheesecakes and Desserts. The business posted on its Facebook page, “This historic space provides Purple Mountain with the opportunity to expand, while offering a store front and dine-in options for our valued customers! We are looking forward to providing the community with regular business hours and, as always, the finest cheesecakes and desserts!”

Purple Mountain is currently at 424 E. Wayne St. I learned about the business, started in 2007, from a friend a few years ago who served up some of the cheesecakes for a club event she was hostessing.

I ended up ordering a couple for an event I held, including the Mandarin Orange Kiwi — made of lemon cheesecake topped with strawberry sauce, mandarin oranges, kiwis and a cherry. It was a colorful work of art and so delicious. The business uses quality ingredients, including Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate, fresh fruits and nuts, it says on its website.

However, I had to get the order during the few hours the business had for pickup at what amounted to the back door of the kitchen. I did get to go inside, and everything was nicely cleaned up.

Ellenberger, who also owns Keystone Realty, expanded the dessert business in 2017 to include a truck, which I saw parked Valentine’s Day outside his realty business. You may have seen the purple Ford at various events.

If you never went to Jack & Johnny’s before it closed in 2008 when the second generation took over the business, you missed something. Johnny Pence and Jack Humbrecht were quite the characters in the place where “the customer is never right.”

The building served as the local Bernie Sanders presidential campaign headquarters for the 2016 race.

Buono for the ’07

Residents of the 46807 ZIP code are closer to shopping for Italian wine and cheese in their neighborhood this fall.

Hoch & Associates released updated plans for siblings Kerry and Patrick Antonuccio’s new Antonuccio’s Italian Market to be at 4011 South Wayne Ave.

They promise an “authentic Italian culinary experience. We feature locally sourced produce, fine Italian meats and cheeses, freshly baked breads and cookies, and select imported wines,” according to their website.

They’ll have “exclusive wines,” events and samplings. They plan to be open 9 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.

I first heard the name in April when it received one of the 2019 Commercial Facade Grants.

The business received a $30,000 façade grant, “which will match approximately $97,000 of total façade work,” according to Mary Tyndall, city of Fort Wayne community development spokeswoman. Other work is also planned, adding to the cost of the project, which includes brickwork, new windows and a patio.

The 46807 ZIP code continues to be hot and busy with revival and has a special place in my heart because it’s where I grew up and lived for almost 30 years. It’s good to see the changes for a new generation and its needs/wants/loves.

I’ve left messages for the Antonuccios and Hoch Associates owner Jim Hoch to find out more details.

Color me impressed

I’m drawn to color like a moth to a flame, and I’m zapped by the latest Art This Way Fort Wayne mural.

Lebamoff Law Offices, 918 S. Calhoun St., provided the wall as the canvas for 1010, a Hamburg-based contemporary artist who uses “graphic illusions and alluring colors.” He has murals around the world, including in Paris, Delhi and Dubai.

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

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