HOBART | The opening of a new cupcake shop last week is a sweet addition to the Clock Tower Plaza.
The new shop, Annabelle's, is the type of unique business the city's downtown continues to attract given investments made by Hobart in recent years, Mayor Brian Snedecor said.
The shop's opening partners with findings in market studies indicating customers will shop or eat downtown if the right services are provided.
"There's been a change in philosophy with people not just wanting to go to corporate stores but interested in getting back to historical downtowns for shopping. People want to walk the lakefront and see the beauty in Hobart," Snedecor said.
Clock Tower Plaza, in the 400 block of East Third Street, was one of the business areas hard hit in September 2008 after water from nearby Lake George flooded the downtown.
Since then, the city has taken steps to prevent a recurrence.
The city partnered with the federal government and received a grant to make necessary repairs to a broken floodgate on the Lake George dam, Snedecor said.
"The city laid the way to minimize flooding in the city," Snedecor said
New business owners Tracee Pisarski and her daughter Klaire Pisarski said they shopped around for a location in Hobart and found the empty storefront in Clock Tower Plaza.
The women, who couldn't find a job after losing their positions at a local health club, started an online cupcake business, baking out of a Valparaiso-based VFW kitchen.
Their cupcakes, baked fresh every morning, include French toast and bacon and fat Elvis — a concoction made up of banana, peanut butter and chocolate.
"We have a huge following," Pisarski said.
Lakefront BBQ, which is west of Annabelle's, moved into the plaza about a month ago, owner John Skoutaris said.
The business, which serves pulled pork sandwiches, brisket, ribs and hamburgers, isn't the first venture for Skoutaris, who has owned restaurants in Chesterton, Valparaiso and Merrillville.
"We decided to open the business in Hobart because my wife is from Hobart and we like Hobart," Skoutaris said.
Rhythm Rhyme and Party Time, another business in the plaza, opened three years ago, owner Jill Fuller said.
"We were one of the first to open after the flood," Fuller said.
The business attracts some 150 children each week who take music and art lessons and participate in a variety of summer camps.
Classes in art, scrap booking and crocheting are also available for adults.
Mike Adams, executive director of the Hobart Chamber of Commerce, sees a lot of good things happening in the city's downtown.
"There's an energy in the downtown that hasn't been there as long as I've been there," Adams said.