ROANOKE, Ind. (WANE) – How does a small town out in the country attract so many people from all over the United States?
That’s what the town of Roanoke has been able to do over the years with its many local businesses that have come in and have brought in lots of foot traffic.
The town’s population is about 1,800 people and is located between Fort Wayne and Huntington and is right next to U.S. 24, making it convenient for people driving by.
When coming into town, Main Street is filled with local shops and restaurants. One of those shops on the street is Katharos Art and Gift. The store has been in Roanoke for more than a decade and is owned by Kathy Watson. Her shop contains paintings done by local artists and blown glass and other glass art.
Watson said having both the shops and restaurants close to each other works well and that people have the ability to go to places to eat while they’re shopping.
“A lot of the shops here are owned by women,” she said. “We get customers who come from different places, many of them going to Joseph Decuis.”
She said the community has accelerated with all the new businesses that have come in.
“It wasn’t always like this. In the past, many of these buildings and storefronts were vacant and often not maintained,” she continued. “I see a lot more foot traffic here than it used to be.”
Watson likes that the current businesses in town take care of their buildings and make their storefronts look nice.
One of the town’s biggest events it hosts in March to kick off the season is Taste of Roanoke. This year, the event is going from March 1-12 and includes 12 restaurants throughout the town that are participating. Taste of Roanoke started off as an outdoor fair and overtime became an event for local restaurants to offer specials to customers to help draw people to the town.
Roanoke’s famous restaurant is Joseph Decuis. It opened in 2000 and has been the town’s premier attraction for people from across the country.
Dennis Meehan, Joseph Decuis’s manager, said Taste of Roanoke offers people the opportunity to be invited to the community and check out their special menu.
“This is a chance for people to come experience our restaurant and it won’t hurt their wallet,” Meehan said.
Joseph Decuis is known for its wagyu beef, which they raise themselves on their farm. They are offering wagyu burgers during the event as part of their special menu.
The restaurant has been featured in culinary magazines and on Food Network. They have customers that come from Indianapolis, Chicago and and Muncie and will often stay overnight to experience the entire community.
He loves Taste of Roanoke because it comes during the time of the year where they are the least busy in the restaurant business and it helps bring in people during the slow times.
He said their numbers during March reflect the increased traffic when the event is happening.
“People like that we are personal with them and we always see people return telling us stories about our restaurant and how long they’ve been coming here,” he added.
He has seen the town of Roanoke grow over the years and has seen new people coming in to check out their emporium, where they sell wagyu beef and other food items.
“Our whole city invites you here, we are excited to see the amount of interest people have for our town,” he said.
The Taste of Roanoke has played a large role in helping put the town on the map and showcasing its local businesses.
Tina Disch, Executive Director of Huntington County Visitors Bureau, said she has seen the town boom in the last 10 years.
“Much of this began with Joseph Decuis attracting people from all over,” she said.
She said during the day most of the people in town are women and into the evening you get more couples.
“The weekends is where you get many groups of people coming into town,” she added.