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NWI Business Ins and Outs: Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, 219 Taproom, and Eyewear on the Square open; Crown Point Family Fun Center closes
NWI Business Ins and Outs

NWI Business Ins and Outs: Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, 219 Taproom, and Eyewear on the Square open; Crown Point Family Fun Center closes

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

A new fast-casual restaurant that specializes in sub sandwiches has come to the Marina District in north Hammond, by the Chicago border.

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop opened its first Northwest Indiana location at 902 Roby Drive, at the site of the former Roby Speedway which is now an outdoor shopping center anchored by a Walmart superstore near the Illinois state line.

The 43-year-old Delaware-based chain makes hand-crafted sandwiches like Philly cheesesteaks and the Capastrami, a spin on the Reuben that includes Swiss cheese, Russian dressing and homemade cole slaw with hot pastrami instead of corned beef. It makes meat balls in-house and slow-roasts whole all-natural turkeys and hand-pulls them every morning for sandwiches like the Thanksgiving-themed Bobbie, which is made with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayo.

The menu includes cold, grilled and vegetarian subs as well as sandwiches.

Local entrepreneurs Daniel Hoffman, Michael VanderWoude and Barbara VanderWoude opened the new franchise of the chain that has more than 100 locations in 16 states. They plan to open two more locations in Northwest Indiana over the next three years. They've been best friends for more than 25 years.

"The power trio comes from a combined background in finance, commercial real estate and business ownership," Capriotti’s said in a news release. "When Barbara came to the U.S. from Poland more than 25 years ago, she dreamed of opening a physical therapy practice. With her husband, it grew to multiple branches throughout Northwest Indiana prior to selling it.

"Michael tried Capriotti’s for the first time 10 years ago at a conference in Las Vegas and it was love at first bite. Now, looking for an opportunity to bring their unique skill sets and a superior product together, the trio knew Capriotti’s would be a perfect fit."

The Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop employs 35 workers. It has a drive-through for pickup that's ordered ahead and delivers through third-party delivery services that include Grub Hub, Postmates and ezCater.

The restaurant offers on app, online ordering and catering of party trays of both cold subs and a hot homemade meatball bar.

“As Northwest Indiana natives, we have been doing business in Hammond since 1999 and have seen first-hand that the emerging city is poised for economic success,” Michael VanderWoude said. “We were immediately attracted to Capriotti’s and its commitment to offering high-quality, hand-made subs made with ingredients made in-house every day, making it a perfect fit for our community. We look forward to serving the supportive Hammond community and turning Capriotti’s into a community staple.”

The business is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.

For more information, visit or call 219-370-0222.


219 Taproom is pouring craft beer in Chesterton with the slogan "Drink good beer. Do good deeds."

The taproom at 109 S. 3rd St. in Chesterton envisioned "creating a space that’s traditional but unique, experimental but approachable, fun but rich in experience and outreach." The taproom has 16 taps, with four to eight from carefully curated breweries.

Its flagship beers come from Mashcraft Brewing of Greenwood, a south suburb of Indianapolis, because co-owner Joe Juarez is related by marriage to Mashcraft founder and head brewer Andrew Castner. 

219 Taproom serves local and regional craft beer, as well as food, craft ciders, wines and spirits. It will offer board games, card games, trivia nights and live music with full bands, as well as "a baseball game or a big event on the radio every now and then."

The business is open from 4-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, call 219-728-1381, visit or find the business on Facebook.


The Crown Point Family Fun Center announced on Facebook that it is permanently closing after shutting down for the season in late October.

The Mardi Gras-themed entertainment center at 1301 Merrillville Road featured go-karts, mini golf, batting cages, soccer cages and an arcade, with games like Skee Ball and Deal or No Deal. It had two 18-hole mini golf courses, a driving range and a replica riverboat.

The 8-acre family attraction also rented out a 55-foot-tall air dome that could be configured for soccer, baseball, softball or golf.

It had a restaurant that served items like pizza, chicken nuggets and pitchers of pop. The Crown Point Family Fun Center was a popular place for birthday parties and other celebrations involving kids.


Eyewear on the Square saw a business opportunity in the Courthouse Shops in the Old Lake Courthouse at 1 Court House Square in downtown Crown Point.

Optician Chris Gaston opened the eyeglass store, which offers products like titanium frames that snap back into shape when bent and prices them for people who don’t have insurance.

The business is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

For more information, call 219-323-3095 or visit


The Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce had a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday for Charlesworth Financial Services at 2000 Comeford Road in Valparaiso.

Certified Public Accountant Juli Charlesworth offers accounting, tax and investment advisory services there. She helps clients plan for their financial future, whether with "retirement planning, education planning, tax planning, accounting services, investment management, cash flow and debt management, family risk management, business planning and special situations planning."

The firm offers a variety of investment vehicles that include IRAs, mural funds, education savings plans, 529 plans, annuities, and insurance for life, disability and long-term care.

For more information, call 219-531-9519 or find the business on Facebook.


Dollar General, the Goodlettsville, Tennessee-based discount retailer that sells many items for $1, has opened new stores in Gary and Crete.

The dollar store chain, which already has multiple locations across the Calumet Region, recently opened new stores at 801 S. Lake St. in Gary and 1030 Main St. in Crete. 

“Dollar General is committed to delivering a pleasant shopping experience that includes a convenient location, a wide assortment of merchandise and great prices on quality products,” said Dan Nieser, Dollar General’s senior vice president of real estate and store development. “We hope our area customers will enjoy shopping at Dollar General’s new location.”

Dollar General sells both private label and national brands of many items, including food, seasonal items, cleaning supplies, apparel, health and beauty products and housewares. They also carry home decor and party preparation items.

The stores typically employ six to 10 people.

For more information, visit

If you've got tips about new stores or restaurants anywhere in the Region, or just wonder what's under construction somewhere, contact NWI Business Ins and Outs columnist Joseph S. Pete at or 219.933.3316.


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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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