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.

Joseph S. Pete

Joseph S. Pete

NWI Business Ins and Outs: Dairy Belle, Theo's, expanding, while Jansens closes

Dairy Belle in Hammond. The popular ice cream stand is expanding to Cedar Lake.

Dairy Belle, a walk-up ice cream stand in Hammond since 1950, has been called the best ice cream in the Region.

Two years ago, it spread its beloved cones, shakes, malts and ice cream treats south to a former Dairy Queen at 2034 Austin Ave. in Schererville. Now Dairy Belle is bringing its sweet treats, including the googly-eyed Monster and Poodle ice cream cones, to Cedar Lake. 

The ice cream restaurant, which serves a wide array of sundaes, flurries and waffle cones, announced on Facebook it purchased Sundaes on the Lake, a similarly old school walk-up ice cream stand at 13134 Lake Shore Drive on the shore of Cedar Lake.

A staple of childhood for generations of Region residents, Dairy Belle is so popular it sells T-shirts.

"Prepare to be fat and proud. I've never known anyone to try Dairy Belle and not become a repeat user," one Yelp reviewer wrote. "The ice cream here is to die for. The shakes and malts are equivalent to what I imagine to be nectar of the gods."


The longstanding Dick's Restaurant and Bar recently closed at 10808 Wicker Ave. on the south edge of St. John.

The nostalgic supper club-like eatery specialized in steaks and seafood including lake perch, walleye, gulf shrimp, frog legs and wild-caught Alaskan salmon.

But it's been purchased by Theo's Steaks & Seafood, the urbane, sophisticated chophouse at 9144 Indianapolis Blvd. in Highland that's known for steaks, seafood and cocktails in an elegant setting. Theo's plans to keep the Dick's name for now, but is freshening up the place and the menu.

"We are excited about adding Dick’s to our restaurant family," Theo's owner Peter Klideris said. "Our family is thrilled to bring our love of food and serving our community to the people of St. John. We plan to keep the name for right now, but will be updating the menu to feature a variety of steaks and seafood."

Theo's also is extensively renovating the restaurant, which had drawn complaints for its dated decor. One online reviewer had complained last year it looked "like an old folks' home ... in the 1970s."

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"We are working around the clock to enhance the building cosmetically to give it more of a modern feel," Klideris said. "The restaurant will also include a beautiful private room that will accommodate up to 120 guests. Perfect for any occasion. Stay tuned for more exciting plans!"


Two more diners are coming to Broadway in Merrillville.

The long-abandoned Broadway Cafe at 7454 Broadway is being reborn as Cafe Stelios.

Xioties Properties, which owned the family-style Delta Restaurant a fifth of a mile north, hopes to open in June a 137-seat restaurant in the 4,300-square-foot building, after an extensive renovation of the vintage Broadway Cafe, which had a 1950s look.

Broadway Cafe was shuttered so long that burglars looted all the remaining shelves and appliances in 2010. The new Cafe Stelios would be open from 6 a.m. to midnight.

And new owners plan to reopen the former Delta diner at 7600 Broadway as the Breakfast Society, a pancake house open for breakfast and lunch that would seat 94 diners.


Jansens Fruit Market has provided fresh, hand-picked seasonal fruits and vegetables to Hobart since at least 1954. 

But the longstanding produce stand and garden center at 8190 E. Ridge Road has closed after more than six decades.

"It was a very, very hard decision and with a heavy heart and lot of tears I must tell you that we have closed our store permanently," owner Jack Feurgye posted on Jansens' Facebook page. "Most of you were not just customers, you were friends and always will be friends. It has been a pleasure helping and talking to you. I hope to see all of you at some point. I want to wish everyone health and happiness in the future."

Unlike many produce stands in the area, Jansens Fruit Market was open year-round, offering pumpkins, decorative Indian corn, Christmas trees, wreathes and gift baskets during the less fruitful fall and winter seasons. It had a greenhouse filled with perennials, hanging baskets and tropical flowering plants.

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.