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NWI Business Ins and Outs: Despite pandemic, new businesses like Jersey Mike's, Culver's, and Smoothie King continue to open in the Region
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NWI Business Ins and Outs

NWI Business Ins and Outs: Despite pandemic, new businesses like Jersey Mike's, Culver's, and Smoothie King continue to open in the Region

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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.

The coronavirus spread rapidly, to the point of becoming a worldwide pandemic in March, in what feels like a lifetime ago.

Most retailers and restaurant dining rooms were shuttered because of stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of the deadly virus that swept the globe, killing more Americans in two months than the Vietnam War did in a decade.

Despite the business world grinding to a halt across Northwest Indiana and the nation, despite an unprecedentedly challenging environment, and despite unemployment rates that haven't been seen since the Great Depression, new businesses have continued to come to and invest in the Calumet Region.

Open

Smoothie King recently opened a fruit smoothie restaurant at 25B Indianapolis Blvd. in the Main Street Center in Schererville.

The Dallas-based smoothie purveyor also has locations in St. John, Merrillville and Mokena, Illinois. It's known by anyone who's ever watched National Basketball Association phenom Zion Williamson play, as it is the sponsor of the Smoothie King Center, home of the New Orleans Pelicans.

The smoothie shop chain offers a variety of fitness and wellness blends like Keto Champ Berry, the Hulk Strawberry, the Greek Yogurt Peach Papaya, Lean1 Pineapple Mango, Blueberry Heaven and Vegan Mango Kale.

It moved into a much-frequented 27,608-square-foot strip mall at the heavily trafficked intersection of Main Street and Indianapolis Boulevard that also is home to Starbucks, Jersey Mike’s, GNC, Little Caesar's, Great Clips and an Oberweis Ice Cream and Dairy Store. Lately, in the throes of the pandemic, the line to the Starbucks drive-through a few storefronts away has sometimes wrapped around the building, giving the new smoothie shop great exposure in an already busy commercial corridor just south of the Highland Grove Shopping Center.

Smoothie King in Schererville is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, call 219-440-7467 or visit smoothieking.com.

Coming soon

When people think of New Jersey, they think of industrial pollution, "The Sopranos," Philip Roth, Atlantic City, the New Jersey Devils, boardwalks, beaches, the ocean, the bygone New Jersey Nets and bridge-and-tunnel jokes by sneering New Yorkers.

They should think of the highly underrated indie film "Rocket Science" and Jersey Mike's Subs, a sub shop chain that slices all its deli meats and cheeses right in front of you after you order.

Jersey Mike's Subs has a location in Schererville and a few across Chicagoland, where they serve subs with top-shelf old world ingredients like provolone, prosciutto, prosciuttini and cappacuolo served Mike's Way: with onions, lettuce, tomatoes, olive oil, red wine vinegar and a proprietary blend of the usual spices.

Jersey Mike's plans to open its newest Region restaurant at 8153 Calumet Ave. in Munster. It's scheduled to open soon.

For more information, call 219-513-9330 or visit jerseymikes.com.

Coming soon

This is the Midwest.

This is the land of big farms and endless flat horizons, of beef cattle and dairy cows.

While ethically minded philosophies of eating have been gaining in popularity, many people here love burgers. And many more love butter.

So it tracks that the ButterBurgers at the Wisconsin-based Culver's chain would prove so popular. Beyond its farm-fresh locally sourced burgers, it's known for its cheese curds, custard, and crinkle cut fries.

Fred Terpstra, who owns the Culver's in Merrillville, Crown Point, Schererville and Highland, is expanding to St. John. He's breaking ground on a new Culver's restaurant on Wicker Avenue, which was delayed because of the pandemic.

"This was a difficult decision for me and my family to make, but I think it’s the right one," Terpstra said. "Our family began doing business in 1946, in downtown Highland at a clothing store called Highland Department Store. We’re still doing business here in Northwest Indiana today."

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 joseph.pete@nwi.com 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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