FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The Rib Room, the iconic eatery on Fort Wayne’s East State corridor, will reopen, its owners announced Thursday.
In a Facebook post, the owners of Nick’s Martini and Wine Bar, Chris, Kurt, and Matt Henry, said the restaurant would undergo a full remodel and reopen. The brothers said an outpouring of support from the public led to the decision to reopen.
“We cannot thank Fort Wayne residents enough for the outpouring of support that they have shown toward the Rib Room by way of phone call, in-person visits, and social media inquiries,” the post read. “It was this encouragement from the regular clientele, neighborhood patrons, and special occasion diners that helped us come to the conclusion that this Fort Wayne tradition should not come to an end.”
In October, Rib Room Manager Christina Filippou, whose family has owned the Rib Room since it opened in 1957, announced the restaurant would close after serving diners for nearly 60 years. She said her father, owner Sam Filippou, had planned to retire and explained the family could not continue operating the restaurant (it still sold barbecued ribs through the its carryout counter).
That announcement came a year after the Filippou family sold the Rib Room’s building to the Henry brothers, a move that made way for the opening of the trendy Nick’s Martini and Wine Bar within the 1235 E. State Blvd. location. Nick’s opened in February 2015 with the Rib Room continuing on the other side.
Not for long, though, as the closure was announced just eight months later.
Four months after that, though, the Rib Room has new life.
The Henrys said the restaurant’s interior is undergoing a total transformation to include more natural light and a warm, rustic patina design, the post said. The restaurant will still feature an all-ages dining room.
The highlight, though, will be an elevated bar with a 16-tap draft system, the restaurant said in the post. The fresh bar menu will have a “strong bourbon focus,” the post said.
The kitchen will be run by local chef Christopher Hartwig. The restaurant said his updated menu will marry the Rib Room’s classics with new items like gourmet burgers, expanded barbecue offerings and new twists on the original Rib Room staples. The fresh restaurant will still be the Rib Room, however, with prime steaks, ribs and seafood.
The new and improved Rib Room is expected to be open by the end of February or early March, the post said.