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NWI Business Ins and Outs: Up Your Alley entertainment center opens soon in Schererville, Arby's coming to Hobart, Essential Nutrition expanding
NWI Business Ins and Outs

NWI Business Ins and Outs: Up Your Alley entertainment center opens soon in Schererville, Arby's coming to Hobart, Essential Nutrition expanding

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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.

Up Your Alley, a 50,000-square-foot boutique bowling and entertainment center, should open in the former Menard's in Schererville within the next 30 days, town manager Robert Volkman said.

The same developers who opened JAK's Warehouse in Schererville are launching their latest venture at 1048 U.S. 41. Up Your Alley will include an upscale restaurant and bar, 20 bowling lanes, 60 arcade games, laser tag and the increasingly popular sport of ax throwing, an activity at bars in Canada that has crept south across the border. 

Up Your Alley, whose tagline is "ultimate entertainment," also will feature Cyber Sport, a team sport that combines lacrosse, basketball and hockey. Players ride around in Cyber Cars, which are electric vehicles that are like bumper cars but smaller and more maneuverable. It's similar to the more widely known game of Whirlyball.

Up Your Alley is now hiring for all positions and plans to have job fairs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. on-site on Feb. 3 and 4.

The new bowling and entertainment center is located in the Boulevard Square Mall, which also is home to Planet Fitness, Last Chance Overstock, United Art & Education, Sky Zone, Kali Beauty, Region Ale and El Salto.

For more information, visit


Essential Nutrition, across from Lake Central High School in St. John, opened a second location in Merrillville last year and is expanding to Lowell.

The Krasnow family, which owns the chain, is taking over the Excel Nutrition across from Lowell High School. Essential Nutrition is a Herbalife retailer and a health and nutrition consultation shop specializing in weight management.

Essential Nutrition sells hydration teas, aloe vera shakes, oatmeal bowls, protein ice coffees and Herbalife meal replacement shakes, which are chock full of vitamins and minerals. It also provides customized diet plans, weigh-ins and health challenges.

Former ironworker Todd Krasnow opened the first Essential Nutrition shop at 8420 Wicker Ave. in St. John about five years ago and then opened Legacy Nutrition at 4911 E. 81st Ave. in Merrillville about a year ago. His 20-year-old daughter Sarah, a Lowell High School graduate, will run the new Essential Nutrition Shop at 181 Deanna Drive in Lowell.

"Both are great locations," Todd Krasnow said. "We're right across from the high schools."

The nutrition shops offer a wide array of meal plans, including for those looking to pack on muscle, lose weight or just eat healthier food.

"We work with people and coach them on all kinds of meal plans for all types of bodies," he said. "Our shakes have what's good: protein, vitamins and fiber. They don't have sugar and what's not good. Our meal replacement shakes taste like Culver's or McDonald's, but have vitamins and minerals instead of sugar and garbage."

Essential Nutrition offers dietary advice to help people with high blood pressure, cholesterol and other health issues.

"Weight loss is a big one," he said. "But people come to us who are not overweight and are just trying to be a much healthier version of themselves."

They also see a lot of business from moms who dropped their kids off at school and seniors who are looking to improve their diets and health. The nutrition shops have cafe-like settings where people are welcome to just hang out.

"Just give me three days and you'll feel better," Krasnow said. "We teach people how to eat and how to be healthy."

Each location is about 1,000 square feet to 1,200 square feet and employs about four people.

The new Essential Nutrition in Lowell will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, call 219-690-3205 or visit


Frank's Backyard BBQ relocated to a new spot a 13106 Wicker Ave. in Cedar Lake in December.

The acclaimed barbecue joint offers both dine-in and carry-out of meats it smokes overnight and sells until supplies sell out. It opened about seven years ago as a mobile barbecue stand and then found a home at 9770 W. 133rd St. before moving to the more heavily trafficked location on Wicker Avenue.

Frank's Backyard BBQ  sells baby back ribs, brisket, burnt ends, pork belly, pulled chicken, rib tips, pork hot links, smoked chicken wings, beer brine chicken and other slow-cooked meats. Every Friday, it offers pastrami.

The menu also includes Wagyu Frankfurters like a slaw dog topped with mayo slaw and sides like smokey beans, smokey green beans, garlic vinegar slaw, smokey garlic potatoes and cheesy spicy corn. It also offers catering.

Frank's Backyard BBQ is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

For more information, call 219-552-1275 or visit

Coming soon

Arby's is a phonetic spelling of RB, short for roast beef.

The suburban Atlanta-based fast food restaurant chain that boasts "we have the meats" is coming to the site of a long-time fruit stand at Ridge Road and 37th Avenue in Hobart. The purveyor of roast beef, roast beef and cheese, turkey, corned beef and brisket sandwiches will take over the old Jansen's Fruit Market location east of CVS in Hobart. 

The Jansen's produce stand and garden center closed after more than six decades in 2018.

Joy Respecke with the city of Hobart's planning department said the developer planned to subdivide the property into two lots, so another business also likely will locate there.


Chalupa lovers have something to celebrate.

The Taco Bell that abruptly closed in downtown Crown Point last April after it started to sink into the ground because of foundation issues finally reopened after being torn down and completely rebuilt.

The Mexican-themed eatery at 1483 N. Main St., known for its Doritos Loco tacos, burritos and hard shell tacos, has been a popular late-night destination for bar-goers and teens. It was demolished for safety concerns after it was deemed structurally unsound.

Irvine, California-based Taco Bell, a subsidiary of Louisville-based Yum Brands, invested $800,000 into the rebuild that resulted in a more contemporary look. The construction ended up taking far longer than initially anticipated.

The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. through 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, call 219-226-0484.


Thermal Tech and Temp, a local manufacturer and distributor of industrial supplies, relocated to a 4,000-square-foot space at 878-880 N. Madison St. in Crown Point. Antony Miocic and Myles Rapchak of Schererville-based Latitude Commercial represented both sides in the deal that closed last month.

Coming soon

Dollar Tree plans to open soon in the Town Square Shopping Center at Main Street and U.S. 41 in Schererville.

The Virginia-based discount retailer, which sells many items for $1, operates more than 15,000 stores nationwide, including throughout rural America. 

Here's a look at retail stores that have opened over the past few years: