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NWI Business Ins and Outs: Empty Nest opens in Griffith, Comfort Roast closes in Whiting, historic Speakeasy for sale in Porter
NWI Business Ins and Outs

NWI Business Ins and Outs: Empty Nest opens in Griffith, Comfort Roast closes in Whiting, historic Speakeasy for sale in Porter

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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.

Empty Nest Market is getting crafty in downtown Griffith.

The artisan shop opened Saturday at 321 E. Main St. in Griffith. It's billed as "a place you can sip, shop and create."

"We have booths with local artisans. It's all handmade," said Colleen Ravesloot, who co-owns the business with Melissa Whiting. "My friend and I have been making crafts together for years, and the opportunity came up. We make wood signs, T-shirts, pillows and repurpose things. We always dreamed of having a store." 

They mainly sold their artisan goods online and to family and friends, but also attended a few fairs, like the Cedar Lake Winter Market. 

Their new store sells hand-crafted goods from local artisans, such as goat milk soap, birdhouses, essential oils, lotions, quilts, metal art, yard art, wood signs, personalized tumblers, jewelry and unicorn headbands. Vendors include some well-known local artisans like Smudge Organics, Lather Me Up Soaps, Crafty Momma, Something Beachy and "the Soap Lady," who set up at Highland High School craft fairs.

"So many fairs have been cancelled," Ravesloot said. "But there are still creative people out there who want others to appreciate what they do."

Starting in the fall, Empty Nest Market will offer classes on painting, crafting and other skills.

Empty Nest Market is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, call 219-321-8700 or find the business on Facebook.


A downtown Whiting coffee shop has poured its last cup of Joe after closing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Comfort Roast Coffee House & Cafe at 1423 119th St. served a wide selection of coffee drinks, espressos, lattes, frappes, smoothies, baked goods and "real" hot chocolate with steamed milk, and no water or powder, in a laid-back atmosphere.

It opened in 2017 and became a popular hangout spot, particularly among Calumet College of St. Joseph students looking for somewhere to study. It drew customers, including seniors, from neighboring Hammond, Hegewisch and the East Side.

"We are sad to announce that Comfort Roast will not be reopening. We have loved serving our devoted customers and will miss seeing you and talking with you," owners Rich and Patti Banske posted on social media. "The past three years have been very special for us and we will treasure them. We would like to thank our dedicated employees that have helped us serve food and coffee everyday. They have become like our extended family. A special thank you to MVP Builders for understanding our occasional cash flow issues and for the temporary rent reduction when we struggled without our kitchen. We would also like to thank the mayor and the city administration for all of their support and assistance. The city and the community made us feel like we had been here forever. But mostly a huge thank you to all of our customers. It has truly been a pleasure to serve you. We hope to find someone quickly to takeover the business. Thank you all, stay well, and remember to shop local."

The coffee shop supported wounded and disabled veterans through the Wounded Warrior charity. It also served baked goods and light cafe fare to up to 62 people in a 2,200-square-foot space that had sat vacant for a half-decade.

But anyone seeking a cup of java in downtown Whiting should not despair. Grindhouse Cafe just opened its second location a few blocks away on 119th Street.


Supercuts has cut its last locks in Schererville.

The hair salon chain shuttered its location at 136 U.S. 41 in the Town Square Shopping Center in Schererville.

The Minneapolis-based hair salon chain has more than 2,400 locations nationwide, including at 8349 Indianapolis Blvd. in the Ultra Highland Plaza in Highland.

For sale

Anyone interested in history can own a piece of it by buying The Speakeasy Bar, Spa Event Center & Catering at 333 N. Mineral Springs Road in Porter.

It's on the market as an entertainment and events venue.

"Entrepreneur and history lover? This is your opportunity to own a piece of the Roaring '20s, meticulously restored to 2019 standards," Blackrock Real Estate Services posted in a Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors listing. "Originally built in 1928 at the height of the Prohibition Era, whisper the password and enter The Speakeasy Bar, Spa Event Center & Catering. This serene beauty offers 15,600 sf on 3.27 lush acres, overlooking the Calumet River, With parking for 200+, there are weddings, reunions, special events, business meetings, and repeat customers on the books. Adjacent to the Spring House Inn, this business is truly a gem, just waiting for you to take the reins. With close proximity to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and easy access via the Interstate and South Shore Rail Line, this is an excellent opportunity, not to be missed. Schedule a private showing today. If only these walls could talk!"

The 92-year-old property includes a meeting room, outdoor patio and wood bar.

For more information, search for The Speakeasy at


Mezquitacos Restaurant relocated from Ridge Road in the former K-Mart Plaza in Griffith to 138 S. Broad St. downtown.

"The home of the skirt steak" took over the former Sci Fi Donuts space in downtown Griffith. It serves homemade Mexican food, offering chips and pico de gallo with every purchase.

The menu includes tacos, burritos, fajitas, tortas, tostadas, gorditas, sopes, quesadillas, enchiladas, flautas, chimichangas, and carne asada. You get rice and refried beans on the side.

Mezquitacos is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information, call 219-923-2850 or find the business on Facebook. 


Amoco has returned to the Region

Midwest Gas and Food, a gas station at 1130 U.S. 30 in Schererville, has rebranded and reopened under the Amoco brand that BP revived a few years ago.

The BP Whiting Refinery was long known as Amoco until BP acquired it in 1998. BP has been rolling the iconic Amoco brand back out at sites where existing BP-branded gas stations are nearby — in the case of Schererville, there's a BP gas station a few blocks away at the Crossroads of America intersection of Indianapolis Boulevard and U.S. 30.

The Amoco has a large and newly remodeled convenience store with beer and wine.


The Chicago Sports Depot, the official White Sox team store, is reopening on select dates after only being open for curbside pickup through much of the pandemic.

Located at 320 W. 35th St. across the street from Guaranteed Rate Field, the store sells Sox gear like jerseys, T-shirts, tank tops, caps, yoga pants, purses, key chains and pint glasses.

It will be open from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday while the Pale Hose are playing a series against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

Customers must wear masks and practice social distancing.

For a longer list of open businesses, visit If you would like your business to be included in a future column, email

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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