By Julie Campbell
Indiana Landmarks Find New Life as Restaurants, Malls, and More
Once upon a time, a John Deere farm implement dealership thrived in the tiny town of Fairmount. Fast forward to today, and the dealership has a new life as a popular destination restaurant, Grains and Grill, along with its sister brewery and pizzeria, Bad Dad Brewery. Instead of hay bailers and seed spreaders, restaurant booths and tables now fill the former show- room floor, where the chef serves up gourmet mac ‘n’ cheese and juicy steaks instead of dishing out the latest news from the farm report.
Owners Joanie and Barry Howard returned to their small town roots after moving to Florida and starting their family.
“Barry and I were both raised in Fairmount, and our parents were raised in Fairmount,” Joanie explained. “We wanted our kids to be here to experience the same kind of childhood we did,”
In 2015, after a 20-year stint of owning a successful auto auction, Joanie had an itch to try out the restaurant business. Now, the whole family is involved in the daily operations of both the restaurant and the brewery, including the Howard’s two sons, Derek and Patrick, and their daughter-in-law, Sarah.
The brewery, which originated from Barry’s home brewing hobby as a way to keep customers occupied while waiting for a restaurant table, has grown by leaps and bounds.
“We have 16 taps with our beer, and we’re the largest self- distributing brewery in Indiana, to over 400 locations around the state,” said Joanie.
For Joanie, working with her family and serving their customers have been the greatest blessings of owning the business.
“It’s so satisfying to know that people want to come and eat in your restaurant,” Joanie said. “One night we had an 80th birthday and a 65th anniversary – people come to us to celebrate a milestone. And we just feel really blessed that people want to do that.”
If a trip to the world-famous French Lick Resort is in your future, you’ll find another fascinating repurposed space there. The Power Plant Bar & Grill was the former electrical switch room for the French Lick Springs Hotel. The focal point of the restaurant is a wall filled with large vintage electrical switches, some over a foot tall. Labels from a bygone era still name each switch from the “main elevators” and “creek pump no. 1” to the “dairy” and the “kitchen.” Don’t forget to try the restaurant’s famed Bourbon Butter Cake for dessert while you’re there.
Built in 1903 and designed by architect Harrison Albright, the Columbus Pump House is a landmark of both design and experience. After many incarnations, today the Pump House showcases its original architectural grandeur while offering a well-designed, yet laid-back local food and craft beer experience. With views of the rushing Flatrock River and iconic Robert Stewart Bridge, it’s the perfect spot for weekday lunch, after work beers, or weekend relaxing.
The historic Barbee Hotel and Restaurant in Warsaw was once a notorious gangster hangout for infamous gangsters such as Al Capone, John Dillinger, and Baby Face Nelson, who used the location as a hideout. The hotel was originally built in 1897 and first called Hotel Ormond. Today, it is a restaurant with some of the best food and entertainment around, serving prime rib, steaks, walleye, ribs, seafood, and pasta.
Madison’s new Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott hotel building used to be a cotton mill that was built in 1884. It was abandoned for decades, then reopened in July 2021 as an 85-room boutique hotel. The stunning renovation created jaw-dropping views of the Ohio River through the custom windows designed as a key feature of the building.
Located inside the historic, renovated Old Leesburg Mill, HopeLore Brewing Co. has earned a gold medal at the World Beer Championships and a bronze medal at the Brewers Cup. The rustic, wooden interior of the giant green mill adds to the earthy, folk nature that HopeLore strives to attain in its beer.
Built in 1906, The Depot served the town of Greenfield as a grain elevator until around 2003. After sitting empty for nearly 20 years, Depot Street Investments purchased the grain elevator to avoid demolition by the City of Greenfield due to concerns for its structural integrity. Following a major renovation, The Depot is now a favorite spot for drinks, burgers and more.
The renovation of Bloomington’s historic Fountain Square catapulted revitalization efforts in downtown Bloomington during the 1980s. This massive structure covers roughly three-quarters of a city block and is home to several art galleries and boutique shops such as Andrew Davis, Ellie Mae’s Boutique, Mirth, O’Child Children’s Boutique, and more. Its restored historical charm, inside and out, has made it a popular destination for photographic backdrops.
In what was once a fiber mill from the 1870s, you’ll find Wabash Woollen Works and Fiber Arts Center, where you can shop for yarn, attend a workshop, or watch artists create.
In Fort Wayne, the Electric Works campus traces its origins to the 1880s with the creation of the Fort Wayne Jenney Electric Company. General Electric acquired the company in 1898 and transitioned production from lighting to electric motor manufacturing. Today, Electric Works is a mixed-use destination, and is home to the region’s first food hall and public market—Union Street Market. Here you’ll find unique, independent merchants offering a diverse mix of local food and beverages, prepared foods, desserts, specialty foods, and much more.