For years, Waynedale watched the sad decline of Quimby Village on Bluffton Road. It was a landmark on the way to Fort Wayne International Airport, but had fallen on hard times since the glory days when the movie theater ran the premiere of the Beatles movie, “A Hard Day’s Night.”
But in the last couple of years, under Chuck Surack’s ownership, the shopping center has become a destination. The Clyde Theatre runs shows six nights a week. You can catch lunch or dinner at The Club Room and get coffee in the morning and afternoon at The Crescendo Café, a coffee shop by the same name you’ll find at Sweetwater Sound, Surack’s original business.
With landscaping, including a row of trees on the east side of the complex, repaired sidewalks and a parking lot spruce up, Quimby Village is the kind of place where you can spend the entire day, Gregg Coyle, executive director of The Clyde Theatre, said.
Another step in the total concept of the Sweet Family of Companies is Quimby Hall, a 4,000 square foot event center once known as Lester’s Hall. You’ll find it behind the former Hall’s Original Drive-In that opened in 1946 and closed its doors in December after operating for 75 years. In May, WANE 15 reported the demolition of a smaller building next to it called “the cake factory,” where Hall’s bakers were busy baking cakes. That was taken down for more parking.
The Clyde opened in 1951, said Sarah Bertsch, special events manager for The Clyde, the Clubroom and now Quimby Hall. It was Clyde Quimby who built The Clyde, commissioning architect A.M. Strauss in 1949 to design it.
When he died soon after, running the business fell to his wife Helen. The staff at The Clyde came up with a pink cocktail – the HQ or pink margarita – in her honor, Bertsch said. Why? Because everything in Helen Quimby’s home was pink. Draperies, wallpaper, carpets, everything.
Quimby Hall was opened as a venue to fill a need for an event for 50 to 200 people that “we say no to all the time,” Coyle said.
It wouldn’t make sense to shut down The Club Room that serves 400 to 600 people a day. The Clyde Theatre runs shows that handle up to 2,000 concert goers, Coyle and Bertsch said.
Holiday parties have already been booked along with a couple of community events. The center has polished concrete floors that look like granite, new lighting, painted brick, and, for this day and age, good Wi-Fi.
Bertsch says the most likely competition would be hotels with smaller rooms that fit the same amount of people or a place like Bergstaff’s in the 2000 block of E. Washington Boulevard. Catering is done through The Club Room.
Although The Sweet Family doesn’t own Foster Park Plaza on the west side of Quimby Village, The Clyde often rents parking for concerts when needed, Coyle said.